EXCLUSIVE: Sydney Park Talks ‘Wish Upon,’ Her SZA Obsession & A Few Things She’d Wish For

Sydney Park lives for horror films even though they mostly terrify her.

Sydney Park couldn’t even get through Annabelle in its entirety. “Dolls are not my thing,” the 19-year-old actress explained. It seems ironic then that the Philadelphia native would land a major role in Annabelle director John R. Leonetti’s latest movie Wish Upon.

The terrifying flick follows 17-year old Clare (Joey King), a misfit who discovers an old music box that makes her wildest dreams come true — at a major price. Park plays Meredith, Clare’s brutally honest bestie who tries to reign in her friend as the dark magic of the wish box seduces her. Giving Meredith all of the wit and sarcasm that anyone could hope for in a BFF, much of the comedy in the film falls on Park’s shoulders. And she runs with it.

On the eve of Wish Upon‘s release, caught up with the Instant Mom alum to chat about the movie, her SZA obsession and why she refuses to fit in. Wish Upon is such a departure from what you’ve done previously in your career. Why was it an important step for you to take on the role of Meredith?

Sydney Park: I’ve always loved horror films, even though they used to scare me. My birthday is [on] Halloween, so when I went trick-or-treating my mom would always make [my] costumes. I wouldn’t last very long because I was always so scared. When I was in middle school I used to invite my girlfriends over and we would make little mini scary movies on my computer, and we would put chocolate milk in the sink to make it look like blood. My mom would be worried. She’d be like, “What’s going on, you guys okay?” I’d be like, “Mom, you just ruined my shot.” I’ve always kind of wanted to star in a horror film. Meredith is such an awesome character. She’s so funny. She’s so brutally honest. Her mouth gets her in trouble most of the time, which I love. It was a win-win situation. I love John Leonetti. His work is awesome. He’s helped to create some of my favorite horror films. Annabelle was horrifying. I couldn’t even make it through it. Dolls are not my thing. The script was awesome, and I just was so attached to my character, Meredith, so I just figured why not showcase the comedy and then obviously the scarier side with the grittier scenes. I thought it would be a really fun experience for my fans. What did you learn about yourself while playing Meredith?

SP: I definitely learned you can be honest and truthful and sometimes it can come out a little mean. [However] if it comes from a real place and a sincere place it won’t be as bitchy. It’s kind of interesting, it was a line that we had to create and that’s something I was discussing with the director. He kept saying Meredith is the truth in this film. Just come from a truthful place and it won’t sound as harsh. I was like, “I don’t want to sound too mean!” Obviously, I love Joey [King] and Shannon [Purser], so when I would say harsh things I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m sorry.’ Like, I don’t want to sound so mean. I learned that you can walk that line and still make it light and funny at the same time. What was the most difficult aspect of filming Wish Upon?

SP: Oh my goodness, it’s exhilarating working on a horror film. There’s so much that goes into it with the special effects, the makeup, everything. It’s all so important and we want to create a very real and honest experience so that the audience can legitimately get scared. If they think, ‘Okay, this situation could actually happen,’ or, ‘Oh my God, what’s going to happen next?’ That’s exactly the type of effect we want to create. I would say it was just so intense, especially going there in my mind with the scarier scenes. Even with the normal teenage scenes that we shot that Shannon and I were a part of we had to create some of the foreshadowing— a little bit of this darkness. It was just fun over everything. Claire has seven wishes in the film. If you could wish for anything in the world and you knew nothing horrible was going to come as a result of them, what would those wishes be?

SP: First one, on a serious note, would definitely be I wish that cancer never, ever existed. That’s wish number one. Wish number two, I would wish that there was a breed of cats where they just permanently [stayed] kittens. I know that’s kind of like stunting their growth, but kittens are just so cute and I love cats. The third wish I’d wish to go to Paris, France and be able to live there for at least a couple months. That’s definitely a goal of mine. You’re returning to The Walking Dead this October as Cyndie. What else do you have on your slate and what do you hope for your career as you press forward?

SP: It’s so cool that I get to have the opportunities to play different roles and roles that allow my audience to grow with me. I just finished up my YouTube Red series called Lifeline that [Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson] is actually producing. It’ll be coming out later this year. It’s an action sci-fi thriller. It’s me and Zach Gilford as the leads. My character Nora is super punk rock and kinda kick ass. It’s a character that no one’s ever really seen me play before. It’s a little transformative actually, so I’m really looking forward to that. I just can’t wait to see where I am in a couple of years. As an actor I’m always trying to create, and I write as well so I’m actually working on a project right now that I’ve been writing. I’m just always trying to search for something new, something that isn’t going to be lateral, something that’s always going to keep me moving forward and upward. I’m really excited for you guys to see where I’m going to be. It’s going to be cool. As an actress of Korean and African-American descent have you found it difficult snag the roles and parts that you’ve gone out for?

SP: Oh, most definitely. I’d say it has been very, very difficult to try to fit in. Casting directors, directors and just studios in general, they just don’t know where to put me. I’m not necessarily Black enough for the role, or I’m not full Asian. They can’t really pinpoint me so it’s always been difficult. Ultimately, I’m really thankful for the roles that I’ve gotten because they are universal characters. They’re not really specific to a race, which has been so awesome because I’m representing both minorities, Korean and African-American. It has been difficult and it always will be difficult because that’s just who I am and that’s what this industry is. At the same time, I [will] always continue to push forward and I’m always fighting for the best role possible. What’s on your summer 2017 playlist?

SP: Oh my gosh, so I’ve been in love with the new SZA album. I just came back from Palm Springs with my family and some girlfriends of mine. That was our playlist the whole time. It was like SZA, Frank Ocean, that whole summery nostalgic vibe. I also love discovering new artists. I just did a music video for a friend of mine. His name is Jonny P and his music is awesome. It’s kind of like retro R&B so its got like this ’60s vibe to it. It’s kind of soulful and its got just a happy, cool vibe. I love discovering new bands and artists like that, but girl I’ve got everything on my playlist. I listen to Prince, Big Sean, everybody! My girlfriends get so weird when they’re just listening to my playlist all the way straight through and I have nothing queued up. It’ll go from classical music to Ty Dolla $ign real fast.

Wish Upon hits theaters today.

Photo Credit: Getty/ Marcus Ingram