What show has humor, a diverse cast, and female crime solvers in Brooklyn? Not that one sitcom on FOX, but “BKPI”: a new online series created, written and co-starring queer Korean American filmmaker Hye Yun Park.
When three friends — Mo, a home health aide (Park), Dawn, an MTA worker (Celiné Justice), and Iram, a local bodega owner (Dina Shihabi) — inadvertently stop a mugging in Iram’s Brooklyn bodega, they decide to team up to form the Brooklyn Private Investigators, or BKPI, and solve crimes in their neighborhood. For Park, the series is a love letter to female friendships, marginalized communities and the real Brooklyn, New York.
Park is a New York-based actress and the creator of the online comedy series “HEY YUN,” as well as the viral video “First Kiss NYC,” which features strangers sharing a kiss on camera. Park was born in Korea and immigrated to the states early on, and has incorporated that story into her work.
“BKPI,” produced by Super Deluxe, screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival last week and will be at Outfest in July. We spoke to Park about the inspiration for the show, creating inclusive opportunities in front and behind the camera, and why she chose to make it about a private eye firm.
How does it feel to screen in the festival circuit?
It feels amazing. We actually filmed our series last summer right around this time, so when we screen at Outfest, it will be exactly a year of doing it. So it feels really celebratory. There was so much love among us, we had a lot of fun, and we’re all just so proud of it, so it’s a big love fest.
It sounds like the sisterhood that you wrote about in the series was reflected in the whole process.
Totally. I mean at the end of the day, I think to me success is about, did we make something that we want to see? And if our cast and crew and producers can feel that, I think that’s a big success in my book.
Was there a specific moment that sparked the idea for “BKPI”?
It was a few summers ago and I was watching a “Law & Order” marathon — and I love “Law & Order” — when it dawned on me: “Wow, it’s always the amazing white detective saving the day for immigrants.” That made me angry, so it was really inspiring to tell a story about people who are happy living in the town that they live in and just wanting to help each other and contribute.
Why did the characters start a PI firm?
That comes from the spirit very much of friends living in New York who are always trying to come up with a new project for a group of friends. Something grass-roots level, and not having to rely on someone to have to give us the opportunity. That comes from the same vein, but instead of a film project or theater project, it was a PI firm.
Did you ever worry about any sort of backlash the series would get?
One backlash I’m still kind of afraid of is, I lived in New York for 10 years and half of that was in Brooklyn, but I’m still a gentrifier. I’m a transplant, and when I walk around, people in Brooklyn see me most likely as a hipster. So I jokingly called our show before we filmed it “The Anti-Hipster Hipster Show,” because a lot of the birth of the show was usually due to my anger toward other fellow gentrifiers who come into the neighborhood. But you know, I want to have this awareness that this is my interpretation of Brooklyn. It’s my love letter to Brooklyn.
How much of the POC, LGBT, women cast and crew was a conscious decision?
Being an Asian American actress for a long time, with all the diversity talk going on, there’s always more work people can do. It was a very conscious decision from the beginning, and also I just wanted to work with a bunch of friends who I knew were brilliant. A lot of my friends are women of color, so it was both conscious and natural.