There was a time, just a handful of years ago when Andrew Park was sitting in an office in Toronto’s financial district, wishing he were on a stage.
Now Park, 29-years-old, having not yet finished his Acting Diploma, has been featured on a television show, has done background work on movies like Suicide Squad and Pixels and gained enough credit to join ACTRA. This weekend will perform a lead role in Toronto Film School’s stage production of Much Ado About Nothing.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Park moved to Canada when he was 13. He had, since his time in university had been drawn to acting, but had struggled to make the decision to pursue the art form because of his parents and his own fear of taking the leap.
“But even after working in the office I still wanted to explore this artistic side of myself,” Park said.
After six years of doing commercial and background work in his spare time, he decided to follow his true passion and pursue a career in acting and enrolled in the Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, Television & the Theatre Diploma program.
“I wanted to do it the proper way, but I didn’t want to go into a four-year theatre program,” Park said. “And that is when I decided the Toronto Film School Acting program was the best program. It was a year and a half, without any breaks and it teaches me theatre, camera acting, how to audition. It teaches me how to write a script, how to direct and produce films. It was the whole package.”
Currently, in his fifth term at Toronto Film School, Park has appeared in numerous projects, including his recent work on CBC’s Kim’s Convenience. He was encouraged to audition for the role by the co-coordinator of the Acting for Film and Television program, Hart Massey, who had received an email from a contact in the industry looking for Korean actors.
“They wanted someone who could portray a 40 to 60-year-old, male or female Korean server at a restaurant,” Park recalled.
He didn’t exactly fit the description called for, but Park said he still wanted to audition so that he could work towards getting his name out there and meet the casting director.
“I replied to the email Hart forwarded me and they contacted me with an audition time,” Park said, adding that he left the audition and said he forgot about because he didn’t expect that he would get the role.
“After a few months the casting director called and said that I got the role,” Park said.
He said the experience of filming the television episode was incredibly exciting and varied from his background work on feature films, but he felt prepared because of his training with Toronto Film School.
“School taught me what to do and what not to do on set,” Park said. “It prepared me to be professional right away.”
The episode aired in November and Park said he only appeared on screen for a total of three lines, which gave him a credit to join ACTRA, The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists is the union of professional performers working in English-language recorded media in Canada.
This weekend, Andrew will take the stage as one of the leads in the Toronto Film School stage production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Park will perform the role of Claudio, which the story centres around.
“Shakespeare is something new to me, I learned a bit about it in high school,” Park said. He went on to explain that having moved from Canada from Korea, English is his second language, so Shakespeare is a challenge, but at the same time it is a great deal of fun.
“I would never have experienced Shakespeare and the language and perform it on stage before I came to the Toronto Film School,” Park said. “I am lucky to get to perform in this play.”
Thinking back on his former life, on when he was working in the office, Park said he never expected that taking the step would lead to so much so soon. He said he is very proud of the work he has done thus far and what is more, his family is proud of him as well.
“They didn’t support the idea of quitting my job and going back school back then, but now they are supporting it, and they feel proud,” Park said.
Park and his classmates perform Much Ado About Nothing this weekend as part of the Acting program showcase week. Performances take place on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 17, 9 p.m.
Also as part of showcase week, students will perform Toronto The Play on Thursday, Dec. 15, 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 5 p.m.
Finally, Blood Wedding will be performed at on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16 at 5 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.
All performances take place at Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement at 6 Noble Street, Toronto. For tickets to any of these plays visit Eventbrite.ca.