Star of ABC Family’s hit show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Megan Park took a break from playing her character Grace Bowman, to step into the wicked shoes of Beverly Van Ravensway in A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song.
The contemporary take on a well-known fairytale classic premiered last month on ABC Family and is currently available on DVD. The movie also stars Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) as Katie, who dreams of becoming a recording star. When her stepsister (Park) takes credit for her voice, the guy of her dreams (Freddie Stroma) falls for the wrong sister. Katie has to battle the odds against her stepmother (Missi Pyle) and stepsister to take back her dream and let her voice shine.
Park recently took the time out to speak with various media outlets about her role in the movie, as well as what is coming up for her character on The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
What are similarities and differences did you find between this Cinderella and the original?
The original was more sticking with the traditional Cinderella-esque fairytale, and this one was sort of like a modern day take on it, which I thought was kind of unique and creative. Obviously there’s only one wicked stepsister and it wasn’t keeping with the fairytale. It was sort of a more relatable story to modern day teens today, which I thought was really cool. And then, making it about the music, which is another cool aspect, and the music is so great and it’s so poppy and refreshing. It was just sort of a really refreshing take on the whole story.
Did you draw inspiration from the stepsisters in the movie or is there another villain that you got inspiration from?
I talked to the director (Damon Santostefano) about whether I should draw upon the original stepsisters, and he really wanted me to like just take a fresh take on it. And I guess I could say that I probably drew on past people that I’ve met, [had] personal experiences with, because I really wanted Bev to be as realistic as possible.
And also the original wicked stepsisters are just purely, purely wicked, and Bev is not. She really does have a heart, and she’s insecure and she doesn’t have a great relationship with her mother and so many different things. I wanted to add a lot of steps to her, and make her not so completely one note. She’s not purely, purely evil, so I wanted that to show.
Where was Cinderella shot and can you tell us about your experiences on set with the cast, producers, and directors?
We shot the movie in Wilmington, North Carolina, which is a beautiful little town, and we had a lot of fun there. It’s a cute place. There are lots of cute restaurants and we all were staying out by the beach. It was just amazing. Every night we were sort of like going out to dinner and hanging out with each other, and I really got to bond with Lucy and Missi Pyle the most. And the three of us spent a lot of time together, and they’re both just really inspiring and unique in their own way.
I got to be goofy and silly with Lucy and just have fun and go out and be crazy. Then with Missi, I got to ask her a lot of questions and pick her brain and do lots of different things. It was really cool. We all had a really good time. Again, it seemed like I wasn’t really working, which is the best feeling.
How was the actual shoot?
It was great being on set. The director was really cool. We spent a lot of time rehearsing everything ahead of time, so when we actually got to the set it felt like everybody knew what was happening and what was going on. Honestly, it was just a really simple, great shoot. It felt like a really creative set. A lot of times, we’d film and then the director would be like, “Hey, let’s just improv this one.” Especially working with Missi Pyle, obviously she likes to improv, and it was hard to keep a straight face 90 percent of the time when working with her.
But, it was great. It was just a really simple set and it went really smoothly and other than having to do a lot of dance rehearsal and Lucy, I’m sure having to do a lot of recording ahead of time, that was the only thing I was really nervous about, because I hadn’t danced a lot before. It went well. It was just really smooth and effortless.
You did the movie with Lucy Hale. What was the experience like and are the two of you still in contact?
We actually met in the audition room for Secret Life, which is so weird. And I guess you’re supposed to be competitive, the people I auditioned with, but we just started chatting and became friends, and then she ended up doing Pretty Little Liars and I did Secret Life, so it’s kind of cool. And she’s just really easy going and cool, and when I found out that she was doing the movie that was one of the main reasons I wanted to be part of it, was to get a chance to work with her.
And we bonded pretty much within the first ten minutes of the read through the first day, and never left each other’s side. Every day off we would go shopping in Wilmington and hang out, and that’s continued since we’ve been back in L.A. She’s just a really sweet girl and she’s very easy to get along with and we ended up having a lot in common. And she’s just really fun and dorky and goofy like I am and doesn’t take things too seriously , so we get along really, really well. She’s a cool girl.
And we both have major online shopping problems and online shopped together nonstop when we were filming, so that was kind of the only bad part, that we egged each other on with the online shopping.
What’s the biggest character difference between your role in this film and your role as Grace?
Playing Beverly and playing Grace are literally two complete opposites. Grace is a very compassionate person and she really wants to please everyone, and Bev is pretty selfish and just kind of wants to get ahead. I mean, they’re both really good people at the heart of it, but Beverly is not necessarily the nice girl. So, they’re pretty polar opposites, which was really fun to get to do something so different than Grace. It was kind of fun.
What made you decide to play such a vastly different role from Grace?
I thought it would be really cool and fun, and I just like doing things that I think are fun and exciting. And obviously, meeting Lucy and getting to work with Missi Pyle was a major thing for me. I’m such a fan and I love comedy roles, and this movie is actually very funny. There are a lot of funny moments, and there was a lot of opportunity for me to do some sort of comedic work, and I learned a lot from working with Missi Pyle and that was a major drawing point for me. It was just really fun. It was an opportunity to do something new.
For you character Grace, what can we expect in the new season of Secret Life from your character?
Grace changes as a person the most this season than any other season. She really starts questioning like a lot of major things in her life and really wants to make some serious changes. And she gets confused and she’s not really sure where her life is headed. So it’s like a really big personal discovery for Grace and new relationships, kind of shocking relationships. There’s a lot of growth with Grace. She really grows up this year.
A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song is available on DVD now. The Secret Life of The American Teenager returns to ABC Family on March 26.