Mason Alexander Park Talks Their Role on ‘Sandman,’ Fashion and Being Trans on TV

As a fan of comic books and the Sandman series, when Mason Alexander Park heard about Neil Gaiman’s Netflix adaptation of Sandman, they messaged Gaiman via social media asking if the character of Desire had been cast yet. That’s how Park was cast as one of the antagonists of the popular series that made its debut last year. In a panel interview at the entertainment convention Fan Expo San Francisco, Park expressed reverence for the author.

“I adore [Neil], I revere him as an artist and a person. He has signed so many things; my house is just full of Neil Gaiman and signatures on all my Sandman memorabilia,” Park said. “You know, they always say, never meet your heroes or whatever, but it’s a stupid phrase. Neil is different.”

Filming Sandman was a very atypical experience, Park explained. Park was taken to London, and after quarantining, the design team did some fittings, Park got their hair done and then waited around. One day they were called with the plan to film all of Desire’s scenes over the course of about two days. 

“[They] showed up at 6 a.m. and [the team] got me ready and we worked straight all the way through the day,” Park said. “The first thing I ever shot was the last episode’s ‘Dream and Desire’ scene and all the ‘Despair and Desire’ scenes were filmed in the afternoon.” The second day they filmed in front of a green screen and all the photography and promotional material with the rest of the cast. 

While portraying Desire, Park said they didn’t have time to get self conscious or worry about the portrayal. Instead, all they were able to focus on was being able to “chew gum and walk at the same time.” That made it a much more enjoyable experience, because it felt like dress-up and like how a child would play a character, rather than the pressure of appeasing millions of fans and people who have expectations of the character. Park spoke about feeling “more concerned with fulfilling my own expectations as an individual, and what would make my inner child and me as a fan of the show happy.” 

The dress-up aspect of the role resonated for Park, who takes fashion inspiration from designers like Vivienne Westwood and Peter Do. Park noted that especially in British fashion circles, there are a lot of designers that have a tendency to subvert gender norms. 

“My style is always shifting, but recently I’ve discovered it’s things that make me feel like I don’t have much on. I like the feeling of being as close to whatever my singularity as an individual is, and so, it’s a lot of blacks, utilitarian skirts, leather and things that are breathable and don’t have a lot of weight to it,” Park said. “Everything links back to your body and to gender. In terms of style icons, just Tilda [Swinton] — what a nonconforming stylish being; she was a big one for me.” 

One of Park’s personal favorite red carpet outfits to date was the wonderfully “spidery” outfit worn to San Diego Comic-Con. 

An issue that Park has been invested in is the responsibility of media and journalism when it comes to the kinds of stories people choose to tell and the things people choose to fixate on, especially in the realm of public discourse about trans identities and queerness and the links to violence this has fueled in the last few years. 

“Proper, adequate, responsible storytelling does result in really healthy things for society. It results in normalizing things that deserve to be normalized,” Park explained. “I’m existing on multiple shows as a non-binary individual and as a trans person, and that is something that wasn’t happening 10 years ago. But at the same time, there is a lot of legislation that is anti-trans.”

Recently, they have been focused on the responsibility of journalistic integrity and avoiding the creation of divisiveness for clickbait. 

“I hope that any of [what I do] has a continued lasting positive effect on giving people an opportunity to experience and connect with an identity that’s being demonized in the news cycle.” As a gender non-binary person, Park said, “I at least can speak to issues that are specific to me, and hopefully come from a place of love and authority as well.”