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‘Emily in Paris’ Star Ashley Park on How Laura Linney Taught Her to ‘Trust Your Gut’

The breakout star reflects on her "one-of-a-kind mentor," who she says "believed in me before anything"
Erik Tanner

F OR ROLLING STONE’S THIRD annual Icons & Influences feature, we asked eight of our favorite artists and entertainers to pay tribute to the women who have inspired them, in life as well as in their careers. Broadway and Emily in Paris star Ashley Park credits actress and producer Laura Linney for helping her “transition from being a theater actor to a screen actor.”

I had never been in a costume or hair fitting before when Laura came into the makeup and hair room for [our Netflix miniseries] Tales of the City. I was so scared even to say hi. I felt like an impostor, especially as a young woman of color in this industry, and as someone who had never done anything onscreen. She came up to my chair, and immediately I thought, “Oh, my God, am I in trouble?” But then, Laura Linney looked me in the eyes and said, “Hello. Congratulations, you were so amazing in your audition. If you have any questions, you have any problems, anything you want to ask anybody, do not hesitate to ask me. I’m here for you.”

It was my first job. She didn’t have to give an F about me. She believed in me before Emily in Paris, way before anything. I would not have had a clue how to transition from being a theater actor to a screen actor if it had not been for her. She is a one-of-a-kind mentor who is like, “I see something in you, and I’m going to cheer you on and make it easier for you,” and that is a white ally that I’ve not had in a lot of people, and that is a mentor I’ve never had.

During Tales she really championed me in a genuine way, not just when it was trendy, or not just when she felt she had to because this girl was going to take off. She told me, “Trust your gut, trust your instincts, trust yourself.” I think for a long time, for me, from my background, it was all about, “How do I do what they want me to do and then get an A on it,” and she was one of the first people who was just like, “Hey, I trust you, so you do you, and I think it’s going to be great.”

Laura uplifts without any other agenda. She was the producer. Anything she said went. The Tales of the City reboot happened because of her. But she’s not like, “I need everyone to know I’m at the top.” She’s like, “How do I get everyone else up to this level?” And I think that’s the bigger conversation. That’s why she’s an icon.

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