Actress Grace Park of “Hawaii Five-0” believes that a little gender difference remains a good thing when discussing her character, Officer Kono Kalakaua.
“I think it is damaging to put that out there constantly — that if you are female, you should have the same physical prowess as men,” Miss Park said. “There is a reason sports are divided between the sexes.”
Miss Park has no problem with her character’s physically challenging storyline, which begins Friday at 9 p.m. Sure, it makes sense that Kono takes a solo outrigger trip around the Hawaiian Islands in honor of her mother, hits a patch of wild weather and fights to stay alive. Since 2010, when CBS rebooted the classic cop show, Kono has proved she is able to keep pace with her superathletic male cop cohorts.
Friday’s episode, in which Miss Park takes on the tricky water stunts herself, is no different. Still, Kono is no superwoman, and Miss Park doesn’t play her as such.
Remember, Miss Park more than proved she was adept at breathing life into characters long before she was cast as Kono. Fans still take to social media to discuss her time on SyFy’s “Battlestar Galactica” as Lt. Sharon “Boomer” Valerii and Lt. Sharon “Athena” Agathon. Her performance earned her accolades, including a place in TV Guide’s “100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History.”
In a way, Kono is as much as a stretch for Miss Park as were her science fiction counterparts. The late Gilbert Lani Kauhi, known by his stage name, Zulu, played the original Kono. He was a member of the original “Hawaii Five-0” task force but was one of the stocky crimebusters who backed up lead Jack Lord, the original Steve McGarrett.
Miss Park’s Kono is still a secondary character to leads Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), but her character has romantic, familial and career peaks and valleys that were nonexistent for Kauhi’s character.
Still, she thinks it’s important to keep some realism in her portrayal of the young cop who joined the major crime-fighting task force fresh out of the police academy. That is one reason she has resisted the efforts to make Kono proficient at martial arts.
Not only is that skill too stereotypical for the Asian actor — although she is quick to point out that she doesn’t feel any type of pigeonholing because of her heritage — it’s also stereotypical for a female cop.
“You are supposed to be [athletic] and supersmart, proficient and cutesy,” she said noting that actresses such as Zooey Deschanel have helped change those stereotypes. “It’s important to find females being females. That’s one reason I make Kono the way she is. She’s young and eager and human.”