Ashley Jini Park is an American actor, dancer, and singer, known for her work on Broadway as Tuptim in the 2015 revival of The King and I and for originating the role of Gretchen Wieners in the 2018 Tony-nominated musical, Mean Girls, for the latter of which she received Drama Desk Award and Tony Award nominations.
Date of birth
She was born on June 6, 1991.
Park was born in Glendale, California and grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the oldest daughter born to Andrew and Sara Park and has a younger sister, Audrey.
Early life & Education
She was placed in dance classes at the Oceanside Dance Academy at age 3 and began piano lessons at age 5. Park's love of performing led her to participate in Ann Arbor's community kids’ theatre throughout middle school and high school. She also attended Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in 2003. Park attended Pioneer High School where she participated in both theatre and choir. She also co-founded a women's a cappella group at Pioneer High School, Soulfege, which placed second at a national competition in 2009. She graduated from Pioneer High School in 2009 and then attended the University of Michigan, earning a BFA in musical theatre from the School of Music, Theater, and Dance in 2013. During her undergraduate years, she co-founded the Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop (MPOW).
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In the summer of 2009, Park was cast as Yvonne and an ensemble member in the Music Theatre Wichita production of Miss Saigon in Wichita, Kansas. Park spent the next two summer seasons performing in various productions at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera during which she earned her Equity card.
Park made her Broadway debut as a member of the ensemble in Mamma Mia! at the Broadhurst Theatre on February 17, 2014. She left the production on September 21, 2014.
From October 2014 to January 2015, Park portrayed Gabrielle in the original U.S national touring company of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Park then returned to Broadway on April 16, 2015 in her first leading role as Tuptim in the 2015 revival of The King and I at the Vivian Beaumont Theater and remained with the production until its closing on June 26, 2016. Park was featured as a principal soloist on the cast recording for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award.
In February 2017, she appeared in the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George as Celeste #1 and Theresa alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Annaleigh Ashford, and Ruthie Ann Miles.
In the fall of 2017, Park portrayed MwE in the off-Broadway musical, KPOP, at the Ars Nova. She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and a Drama League Award and also won a Lucille Lortel Award for this role. Park left the production in October 2017 due to her beginning rehearsals for the Mean Girls out-of-town tryout and was replaced by Marina Kondo.
Park starred as Gretchen Wieners in the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical, Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey with music and lyrics by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin, respectively. The show had its world premiere as an out-of-town tryout at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. from October 31, 2017 to December 3, 2017 in which Park originated the role of Gretchen Wieners. The musical, which is based on the film of the same name, began previews on March 12, 2018, and officially opened on Broadway on April 8, 2018 at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City. She received nominations for numerous awards for her role as Gretchen Wieners, including nominations for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, the Drama League Award, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.
In June 2019, it was announced that Park would headline a "revamped" production of Thoroughly Modern Millie from May 6-10, 2020 for New York City Center Encores!. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production was cancelled, and ticket refunds were offered to the public.
Philanthropy and Social Activism
As a student at the University of Michigan, Park was the co-founder of the Michigan Performance Outreach Workshop (MPOW), a student-run organization with the purpose of bringing performing arts educational opportunities to students in southeastern Michigan to, "foster creative expression, build self-esteem, and strengthen the community." MPOW hosts an on-campus workshop each semester for 130-200 public school students that includes performances by University of Michigan students as well as immersive and collaborative workshops in all arts-based disciplines.
In 2013 Park was awarded with the Willis Patterson Diversity Award for using her "talents and scholarly abilities to enhance the development of, and appreciation for, a more culturally and ethnically diverse community in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance" at the University of Michigan.
During her undergraduate, Park was also involved with the Prison Creative Arts Project, an organization that engages "those impacted by the justice system into artistic collaboration" with University of Michigan students for "mutual learning and growth through theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, slam poetry, and music" in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Since moving to NYC, Park has participated in events supporting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA).
In June 2018, she participated in the 28th annual Broadway Bares, an annual burlesque/striptease show fundraiser for BCEFA and personally raised nearly $3,000 for the organization.
In August 2018 Park participated in Covenant House's Stage & Screen Sleep Out along with Mean Girls co-stars Kyle Selig and Curtis Holland, and together they raised over $14,000 for this organization which provides shelter, food, and crisis care for the homeless and runaway youth.
She also has served as a mentor and held masterclasses for various programs and organizations, such as The Broadway Collective and Broadway Workshop.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Park set up a second Instagram account from which she began offering ten minute one-on-one lessons and daily question and answer sessions via Zoom in exchange for donations to the Actors Fund.
|Born||6th June, 1991|
|Home City||Glendale, California, U.S.|