Grace Park is opening up for the first time about her much-publicized exit from Hawaii Five-0.
The 44-year-old actress left the CBS action drama in June 2017, after playing Kono Kalakaua for seven seasons. At the time, it had been reported that Park departed the series, along with Daniel Dae Kim, due to a salary dispute. In a new interview, Park reveals that pay parity wasn't the only reason she decided to say goodbye to the character and the show.
“There were a number of factors spanning the show that affected the non-renewal of my contract,” Park tells Entertainment Weekly. “I’m grateful for the lessons learned, but I chose what was best for my integrity."
“I know that people are always trying their best, and everyone’s coming from their own backgrounds,” she adds. “Throughout the whole series, I kept trying to see the best in everybody. Would I do it all over again? I wouldn’t be so quick to say yes.... I’m still figuring stuff out. Sometimes people are just really good at burying stuff, and I think I’m like that.”
After Park and Kim's exits were made public, Kim issued a statement last July on Facebook, saying that "the path to equality is never easy." "By now many of you have heard the news, and I’m sad to say it is true," Kim wrote. "I will not be returning to Hawaii Five-0 when production starts next week. Though I made myself available to come back, CBS and I weren’t able to agree to terms on a new contract, so I made the difficult choice not to continue."
Park, who next stars on ABC's upcoming fall drama A Million Little Things, explains that she stayed silent until now because "the whole situation was just a bit too charged for me." She credits the team on her new series for the team mentality being instilled on- and off-set.
“They’re going through a lot of steps to make sure we have the ensemble vibe,” Park says. “We all have the same trailers, the same treatment. We don’t necessarily have the same salaries, because people came from all different places [in their careers], but maybe we’ll be at parity in a few years. If everyone’s bringing their A-games and being a team, those are the things that are more important."
"I’m good leaving the boys’ club, and I’m hopeful for the future,” she continues. “I just look at this time as something that I went through…. You can’t always get back what you lost, but if you made it through, right now is the best time to watch the old structures fall.”
In March, ET asked Hawaii Five-0 star Alex O'Loughlin if there had been any internal discussions about having Park and Kim back for a proper farewell.
"I haven't listened to any talk about any of that stuff," O'Loughlin acknowledged. "All I know is they left and we got two new fantastic young actors [Beulah Koale and Meaghan Rath] who want to be here."