Ashley Park is asking for allies to speak up in the wake of a rise in anti-Asian hate incidents.
Just days after her social media video about stopping violence against Asian communities went viral, the Emily in Paris star had a candid conversation with Drew Barrymore about her experience as a Korean-American. During the discussion, Ashley explained why she has been wanting to hide parts of her Asian culture.
"I just remembered very recently that when I was really little, I didn't even realize it was trauma at the time, but I remember somebody telling me, ‘Oh you're not American, you're Asian American,'" Ashley recalled on the March 19 episode of The Drew Barrymore Show. "And, at the time I thought, ‘Huh. Okay great.' Well I want to belong. All I've ever wanted to do is belong. That's all we all want to do right? And the only way to belong was erasing the Asian."
The 29-year-old actress went on to describe her life in New York City where she was extra careful when she stepped out.
"I was living in New York where every time I was going outside for the past month, I was putting on not only my cap, my mask, my sunglasses, my headphones and not listening to music so I could be aware of my surroundings," she admitted. "I was fearful and I was hiding the fact that I was Asian because I didn't know who was going to jump out at me and I think that the grief that happened with this Atlanta shooting was knowing that it was malicious, was knowing that someone had thought about it and wanted to target people who look like me. I am a big scared-y cat. I am scared of everything but I am not a fearful person, and I am right now."
On March 16, a gunman opened fire at various spas in and around Atlanta. Six of the eight people killed were of Asian descent, according to NBC News. The suspected gunman was arrested and is being charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.
According to NBC News, investigators are not ruling out the possibility of a racial motive.
In her latest interview, Ashley expressed the power of words and need for allies as the Asian community continues to grieve. As she explained, "In moving forward, we need allies to be there with us on the ground level. When someone says something, I should be able to stand up for myself, but I'm so conditioned in growing up in this world and in this industry where I cannot speak up for myself because the only person who leaves that situation harmed is me."
"It's my job to try to infiltrate and try to be a lovely person to work with and a good human because that's what we all want to be," Ashley continued. "We have to be able to stand up for each other...It's the act of ally-ship that's going to move us forward."
The Drew Barrymore Show airs weekdays. Check your local listings online.
Following this week's tragedy in Atlanta, E! News renews our commitment to amplify the voices of our AAPI colleagues, partners and friends, and pledge to fight with them against hate.