Jae Suh Park is the multi-talented actress with a heart of gold and determination to make a change in the world.
Currently starring as Marianne in the Netflix series Friends From College, you may also recognise her from the film The Meddler, in addition to roles in TV shows including How I Met Your Mother, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mindy Project, Adam Ruins Everything, and more.
Outside of her acting work, Jae is also a passionate advocate for the environment, incorporating GreenBeauty into her daily routine whilst continually making lifestyle changes which have a positive impact on the world around us. Additionally, Jae has partnered with Best Buddies to create opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Ahead of the second season of Friends From College, which arrives on Netflix on January 11, we spoke to Jae about what we can expect from her character Marianne, becoming more environmentally friendly, her work with Best Buddies, and much more.
Friends From College is returning for its second season in January. For those who have yet to tune in to the Netflix series, can you tell us a bit about it?
The show is about a group of friends who all met in college who have hit, or are about to hit, 40. Two of them have been carrying on an affair since we’ve graduated from college even though they’ve been living in different states. Crazy stuff happens when one of them moves back into town with his wife who’s also part of our group of friends.
I think the affair is reflective of what the show is really about; toxic friendships, arrested development, holding on to the past, self-loathing, self-pity and love. All these things come out in ridiculous behaviors so we can laugh at them.
You play the role of yoga instructor Marianne. What attracted you to the role in the first place?
Well it was paid…but aside from that, she’s so kooky and fun. It’s really been a pleasure to play her, and I knew it would be great to work with Nick Stoller. Francesca has turned out to be fantastic too.
What can we expect from Marianne in the second season?
Well, there are a lot of changes this season, but we can expect Marianne to stay true to herself. You can also expect more of Marianne.
Are there any similarities between yourself and the character of Marianne?
We both have a Zen-like optimism about life and we love our friends. I can also relate to those crazy off-off-off Broadway plays she’s part of. All actors have been there.
You star alongside a great cast, and we imagine you’ve had some pretty fun times on set. What was the most memorable thing to happen during filming?
We have so much fun on set and we’re constantly laughing, but for me the most memorable times are when we can get together for a nice dinner off the set. We’d joke that no matter what time it is or where we are, if enough of us wanted to grab a bite after filming, we’d tell Cobie and within five minutes she’d have three choices and reservation times. She’s like our den mother.
In addition to starring in Friends From College, you’ve also appeared in the likes of The Mindy Project, The Meddler, and How I Met Your Mother. What kind of role would you like to get involved with next? Is there a particular show that you’d love to be a part of?
Well I’ve done a lot of comedy so it might be fun to sink my teeth into an interesting dramatic role. But you know what would be fantastic? I’m a little bit obsessed with Queer Eye right now. I’d love to go around with those guys on one of their makeovers!
2018 has seen a strong shift when it comes to diversity in films, with the likes of Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther leading the pack, however, there’s still a long way to go. As a Korean-American actress, what advice would you give to a budding actor of ethnic minority when trying to break into the industry?
I’d pretty much give the same advice to anyone starting out and that is to stay true to yourself. Never lose sight of what makes you unique. Early on in my career I spent a lot of time trying to be someone I’m not or someone I thought the industry wanted. I don’t think I had much success with that. I definitely started to work more as I felt more comfortable in my own skin.
Outside of your acting, you’re an advocate for the environment and an active user of GreenBeauty. What three easy lifestyle changes would you recommend to anyone who wants to become more environmentally friendly?
I think it just boils down to respecting the environment and yourself. Treat the environment as you would your home. I mean it actually is. Don’t litter and recycle, it’s pretty easy. You would think anyways. It makes me so mad when I see trash on the street. Animal farming creates a lot of pollution so maybe eat less meat. Just be mindful of waste. We waste so much food. Restaurant portions are out of control. You can easily share a meal. Speaking of restaurants, you don’t need a straw to drink your water. My daughter uses a straw but she’s six. If you don’t have baby teeth, you don’t need one.
You’ve also partnered with Best Buddies, can you tell us a little about your work with them?
I’ve just become involved with them and they do such wonderful work. It’s a volunteer organization that fosters one on one friendships with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as create job opportunities and support leadership skills.
The people I’ve met so far involved in this organization are so hardworking and have the biggest hearts. I do what I can to get the word out about this organization and I hope to do more work with them in the future.
You have a daughter called Ruby with your husband Randall Park. As you’re both actors, has she shown any signs of wanting to step into the acting world too?
Not at all! It’s hard enough to get her to look at the camera and smile!
Do you have any projects in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Not at this point but I’m hoping something great will come along. Something great always comes along. That’s my Zen-like optimism coming out.
Thank you to Jae Suh Park for her time. Friends From College returns for its second season on Netflix on January 11.