Character Conversations: Desmond Chiam and Victoria Park on Redefining Representation

For the first time since lockdown, Character Conversations brought people face-to-face, and what better pair to sit down together than the actors behind the supercharged characters of the respective Marvel and DC universes, Desmond Chiam and Victoria Park.

Chiam got his start in Hollywood as Riga in MTV’s “The Shannara Chronicles” and was most recently featured in the hit Disney+ series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” as Dovich, one of the antagonistic Flag Smashers, who begins to have hesitations about the methods of the organization. 

Park was featured in the cast of “Sweet/Vicious” as Gabby Cho and currently stars as Kamilla Hwang in The CW’s “The Flash,” a photographer for “The Central City Citizen” who allies herself with Team Flash.

The two bonded quickly over the shared experiences of being an actor who travels a lot, going to film school and working with Wong Fu Productions. Chiam was a part of the star-studded cast of the production company’s “Asian Bachelorette 2” while Park has been in various Wong Fu projects including their first feature film, “Everything Before Us,” and “Yappie.” Both acknowledged the impact that Wong Fu has had on the entertainment industry as many AAPI actors have been in their videos in the past, including Simu Liu, Olivia Liang and Ki Hong Lee to name a few. “They fight so hard for us and they’ve launched all of our careers,” Park noted. “I feel like all the actors that you see working today all started [by] doing Wong Fu sketches.” 

The conversation moved on to discuss the way representation has changed over the years, namely how Asian men have come to be considered as “hot” and “sexy.” Park cites Daniel Dae Kim on “Lost” as the pivotal moment of that change. Chiam agreed with the sentiment but shared that his friends thought otherwise: “The only reason there was pushback was just that we didn’t have that societal precedent of an Asian male as an attractive person.” He continued on to say how it also was important to have a balance with how men were now becoming more traditionally masculine for fear of excluding those who don’t fit in that box. 

While representation is better than it was years ago, it still has a long way to go. “I didn’t know how to say no to anything,” Park revealed about the early years of her career, “and I didn’t know who I was and all that stuff so it’s a lot easier to just take the roles given to you and never say what you think is right.” Chiam agreed, adding that “the system makes it easy for us to sell ourselves out. There are still actors out there who are searching for that first gig and I’m not going to hold that against them [to play stereotypical roles].” 

On a hopeful note, Park and Chiam do mention how there are more opportunities for AAPI actors now as producers and writers aim to diversify their cast, and have the wistful thought that they are now the ones budding actors are geeking over in audition rooms. 

Watch the full conversation above to hear more!