Entertainment Weekly interviewed former BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and HAWAII FIVE-0 star Grace Park, as she was making the rounds promoting her new show A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, which debuts this fall on ABC. Park broke her silence regarding her abrupt departure from HAWAII FIVE-0 two years ago. She had left alongside co-star Daniel Dae Kim over accusations of gender and racial pay disparity with their white male co-stars.
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In June 2017, Park and her Hawaii Five-0 costar Daniel Dae Kim departed the CBS series ahead of its eighth season after failed salary negotiations. Their exits became highly publicized — fans questioned why, after 168 episodes, the network didn’t pay the pair the same amount as their white costars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan. According to Variety, Kim and Park had been offered 10 to 15 percent less than their costars’ salaries and had not negotiated as a unit, with Park seeking a deal for less than half a full season’s worth of episodes the next year.
The headlines also fueled the ongoing conversation around Asian representation in Hollywood: As Vanity Fair writer Laura Bradley pointed out at the time, Park and Kim were “arguably the most prominent actors out of the four when the show launched in 2010,” with both coming off hits — Park from Battlestar Galactica and Kim from Lost. “In this case,” Bradley wrote, “it’s also worth asking why Park and Kim were ever cast in supporting roles in the first place.”
Amid the controversy, CBS said it had tried offering Kim and Park “significant salary increases.” Executive producer Peter M. Lenkov tweeted that Park had been “away from her family for seven years,” implying she’d left to reunite with them. Kim wrote in a Facebook post that “the path to equality is rarely easy.” But through it all, Park remained silent. “The whole situation was just a bit too charged for me,” she tells EW, though she notes that she did call Lenkov after reading his tweet. “I let him know, ‘That wasn’t cool that you made a statement on my behalf.’… I know he did it to be helpful, and I care about Peter as a person, but I didn’t leave for that reason.”
That said, she’s not about to reveal her actual reason. “There were a number of factors spanning the show that affected the non-renewal of my contract,” she says slowly, carefully choosing her words. “I’m grateful for the lessons learned, but I chose what was best for my integrity.
“I know that people are always trying their best, and everyone’s coming from their own backgrounds,” she continues. “Throughout the whole series, I kept trying to see the best in everybody.” She pauses. “Would I do it all over again? I wouldn’t be so quick to say yes.… I’m still figuring stuff out. Sometimes people are just really good at burying stuff, and I think I’m like that.”
To read the entire interview, head over to EW: Grace Park breaks her silence on Hawaii Five-0 exit: ‘I’m still figuring stuff out’