Warning: There are spoilers for Emily in Paris episode 6 ahead.
At the beginning of episode 6, "Ringarde," on Netflix's Emily in Paris, Mindy (Ashley Park) reveals she used to be a singer and shows Emily (Lily Collins) a video of her competing on a fake reality television series called Chinese Popstar. Her voice cracks during her rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier,” but it’s obvious that Mindy has an incredible set of pipes. In fact, Park’s vocals are so impressive that her musical background was specifically added to the show because creator Darren Star (Younger, Sex and the City) had just discovered her talent, courtesy of one Gretchen Weiners.
Park’s character Mindy is first introduced in Emily in Paris as a cosmopolitan woman from Shanghai who moved to Paris and became a nanny. Mindy’s past as a musician, which is a bit of a mid-season plot twist, wasn't actually in the cards until after Star saw Park perform the role of Gretchen Weiners in the musical version of Tina Fey's beloved teen movie, Mean Girls.
“Darren Star had actually come to see Mean Girls, which is how he became familiar with me. I think he said he saw it twice, which I didn’t know until recently,” she recently told Refinery29 over the phone. He must've still had her performance of “What’s Wrong With Me?” (below) playing in his head for weeks, because he decided to add the singer element to the plot after the first table read.
“I think they had written about three of the episodes and he called me on my way to the camera test and asked if it would be okay if they wrote in singing for Mindy,” says Park. “It was really cool that they wanted to add that and use that to open up the character and the friendship and the story a bit more.”
Mindy fears performing after her viral, pitchy moment, but theater fans know that Park would never shy away from the stage. Her character Mindy is her first major, starring role on a television series after gaining recognition working on Broadway. Park made her Broadway debut in 2014 as a cast member of Mamma Mia! She then played Tuptim in the 2015 revival of The King and I and the musical’s album was nominated for a Grammy. She also starred in the plays Sunday In The Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal and KPOP.
And then came the big one: In 2017's Mean Girls musical, Park originated the character Gretchen Wieners, the role that caught Stars’ attention. He wasn’t the only one who was dazzled. The part of Gretchen landed Park a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Park left the Mean Girls production in 2019 and was set to headline a new version of Thoroughly Modern Millie this year before the COVID-19 pandemic happened. She may be off the stage right now, but that has not stopped her from performing. She frequently posts videos of her showing off her vocal and dancing skills, including one of this catchy song about an Amazon delivery guy that really shows off her range:
Mindy's vocal talent isn't revealed until halfway into the season (Mindy’s killer fashion and carefree attitude are more than enough to keep your attention for episodes 1 through 5), but trust me when I say it is worth the wait to hear her finally croon "La Vie en Rose."