Stars Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim left Hawaii Five-0 last year due to contractual disagreements with CBS. They were reportedly each making less than their white male co-stars Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan and were seeking parity, but an agreement was not reached and the actors chose not to return. At the time, Kim addressed his exit in a statement that discussed his contract impasse as well as how much he would miss playing a well-developed Asian-American character, an unfortunate rarity on television. But Park remained silent — until now.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly to promote her new show A Million Little Things, Park talked about the circumstances surrounding her exit from Hawaii Five-0 — on which she starred as Officer Kono Kalakaua for seven seasons starting with the pilot — for the first time. While she didn't say exactly why she left, she alluded to it being a complex situation, and it sounds like her departure was not on great terms.
"There were a number of factors spanning the show that affected the non-renewal of my contract," she said. "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 continued. "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."
The actress also addressed the fact that amid the controversy last year executive producer Peter Lenkov said she left the show to spend more time with her family.
"I let him know, 'That wasn't cool that you made a statement on my behalf.'... I know he did it to be helpful, and I care about Peter as a person, but I didn't leave for that reason," she said.
Hawaii Five-0 returns for Season 9 Friday, Sept. 28 at 9/8c on CBS.
A Million Little Things premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 10/9c on ABC.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS.)