Victoria Park never had plans to be in front of the camera. She graduated from Palatine’s Fremd High School in 2006 and headed to Northwestern to pursue dreams of directing and producing, and graduated with a degree in radio/television/film. “I was always influenced by the visual aspect of movies, which is why I concentrated on cinematography,” she says.
But “things change.” And within a year of moving to Los Angeles, Park was scouted by a talent manager to go in front of the lens. Now with a decade of acting under her belt, the 31-year-old is best known for her role as photographer and bartender Kamilla Hwang on The CW’s “The Flash.” Currently in its sixth season, the show builds suspense with a plot line about a supersized crisis that spans across its sister shows, “Supergirl,” “Batwoman,” “Arrow,” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
How is acting in a superhero series different from other roles? There is a weight when you’re working on a show that has characters who have been loved for years and years. Kamilla is not in the comics, so I have a little more freedom to play. There’s a certain responsibility in playing the characters and portraying the story well. It’s a good challenge. I never really found a character [who’s] this similar to me. I read the script and said, “I understand her.” The initial [draw] was her sense of humor. She’s a very positive person … a little snarky and sassy.
Acting was not a plan for you. What changed? I [moved] to L.A. to pursue directing and ended up joining an acting class. It’s a good tool for directors to be able to understand actors [and I wanted] to meet people because I didn’t really know anybody in L.A. I ended up falling in love with it. I always loved playing pretend and make-believe. Acting is a way to never give that up. For superhero series in particular, there’s that imagination. It’s more fun to play in those roles because you are playing pretend.
When someone believes in you, how does that affect your performance? I have the best team ever and I know that’s rare in this industry. My manager discovered me through that class and really believed in me and took a chance on me and took my career and made it what it is today. It is the greatest thing ever to have their support and guidance. Acting is a very tumultuous and emotional journey. When you’re joining a show like “The Flash,” which has such a huge fan following, it’s a little nerve-racking. There are definitely times when I get down on myself and lose hope. They’ve never lost hope in me; they’ve always believed in me.
How do you maintain confidence in Hollywood? It’s really easy to compare yourself to others and that makes it difficult, especially with how connected everyone is these days in the pervasive culture of social media. Comparing yourself to others and saying, “This person seems ahead of me” or “Why don’t I have what they have?” is a difficult obstacle to overcome. But unplugging and grounding yourself in people who are not in the industry and encourage you for being who you are has been helpful for me to not fall into that trap.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? If I could continue to eat all the things in the world without getting full, getting sick, or gaining weight, that would be a really practical superpower and benefit my life greatly. When I lived in Chicago, I didn’t eat deep dish pizza that much, but now that I’m in L.A. and can’t get it, I crave Lou Malnati’s and Pequod’s all the time.
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on The CW.
Photos by Paul Smith