Bidyo’s Filipino American Hall of Fame: Rob Schneider and Jo Koy

Rob Schneider and Jo Koy are the fourth and fifth honorees in Bidyo’s new show, Filipino American Hall of Fame and the fourth and fifth episodes airs this Sunday, September 25th! Bidyo is a new YouTube channel created by FilAm Creative and its mission is to produce and promote content from emerging Filipino American talent.  Subscribe to the Bidyo Channel here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-cvvEYApGwFOO337gUZuQ    

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You know of those late, late, late night fringe stand-up comedy shows you would watch during your college years that play on late, late, late night television after 2am in the morning on a Saturday night while during your laughter, you accept fate you’ll be alone for the rest of your invalid life because you’re not out on a date, clubbing or kickin’ boots instead?

It is there you discover comedy gems you can boast to your friends when they become popular a few years later!  Especially when those comedy gems are Filipino Americans!  And as the saying goes, “You write what you know,” both Rob Schneider and Jo Koy tell jokes about being Filipino!

Rob Schneider

A year before landing as an Emmy nominated writer and a “Not Ready For Primetime Player” on Saturday Night Live, the first time I saw Rob Schneider was on HBO’s 13th Annual Young Comedians Special at my friends’ house in 1989.

He soon skyrocketed thru the ranks of SNL along with “The Frat Boys” Adam Sandler, David Spade and the late Chris Farley.  And it all began when he was still a writer and only a featured performer with his popular sketch character Richard Laymer, better known as “The Richmeister,” “Copy Machine Boy” or “Copy Boy” debuted on January 11, 1991 “makin’ copies” hosted by musical guest, Sting.

He soon took his comedy to the movies and introduced and incorporated Filipino culture to each one of them starting with 1999’s Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.  Whether they were a t-shirt with a Philippine island emblazoned on it, the rarity of a raspberry bibingka or even cameo appearances of his Filipina mother, Fil Ams laugh and applaud you for implementing our heritage into the mainstream!

In October, 2009, the independent film, Brown Soup Thing made its Los Angeles premiere to a sold out audience at the Filipino International Film Festival.  Written and directed by our own Head of Long Term Planning Edward J. Mallillin and starring Kimee Balmilero, Jenilee ReyesBernardo Bernardo, Cheryl Noe, Rona Par, Earl Baylon, Wil Olandria and Sari Arambulo, the film attracted many Filipino Americans of Southern California including Rob Schneider.  He even spoke about the film and lent his continuing support of our Filipino heritage in cinema. [link]  

In December, 2015, along with his wife, Schneider wrote, directed, produced and starred in his new sitcom for Netflix, Real Rob about his life in Hollywood.  The hit comedy is renewed for a second season by the streaming service.  Season 1 of Real Rob is streaming now only on Netflix.

 

Jo Koy

Word spreads fast like wildfire in the Filipino American community once you hear of a new standup comedian making the rounds at various clubs and theaters across the country.  And, he got my attention when I was with E! Entertainment from 2006 to 2010 of a Fil Am comedian named Jo Koy.  Just by the name/moniker alone screams Filipino.  After many of those late, late, late night stand-up comedy shows on television like the following…

…Jo Koy made his debut appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2005 where he was one of a select few to ever receive a standing ovation on the show.  Before his standup, the first thing everyone noticed was the Filipino flag tailored into his jacket…

In 2008, I was the line producer for Edward J. Mallillin’s sketch comedy and interview YouTube magazine show, Flipped Switch and we were on-location at FilAm Arts’ 17th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) in San Pedro, California filming our next episodes.  One of the interviews we conducted was with Jo Koy as he mentioned about his upcoming 2009 live special for Comedy Central, Don’t Make Him Angry, among other subjects like family, FPAC and about being Filipino.

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He became a frequent and regular guest panelist at Chelsea Handler’s roundtable discussion late night show on E! Entertainment Television, Chelsea Lately from 2009 to 2014.

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Jo Koy’s star continues to rise in his second feature-length, uncensored stand-up special, Lights Out, filmed at the Alex Theatre in Glendale California in 2012. Infectiously funny and painfully honest about the joys and struggles of fatherhood, growing up with strong, opinionated and honest Filipino women, sleep apnea and role playing.

In October of 2015, the White House Initiative on AAPIs and the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted the first-ever White House Celebration of Filipino American History Month.  In line with celebrating the diverse talents of the community, the Celebration highlighted prominent Filipino Americans in different sectors of society, including the arts, entertainment, and dance industries.  Billy Dec, member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, moderated a panel with Filipino American trailblazers, which included Jo Koy as well as Cristeta Comerford (the first Filipino American White House Executive Chef); Apl.de.ap (Co-Founder of the Black Eyed Peas); Cassie (singer); Geena Rocero (model and founder of Gender Proud) and Ronnie del Carmen (Co-Director of Pixar Animation Studios).  The speakers highlighted how they have blazed the trail in their respective fields, and recognized the role that their families – especially their mothers – played throughout their experiences.

The best comedies are the ones that relate to family because the stories are universal and they transcend every culture and every generation moving forward.  Both Rob Schneider and Jo Koy have successfully implemented their stories of their Filipino heritage in their live performances and in all media platforms  They are the pioneers of what it means growing up Filipino American thru the hardships of identity, the differences of upbringing related to their parents, themselves and to their own children and the acceptance of who we are that continues to this day.

Written by Edwin Santos (9/25/16)

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

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Bidyo’s Filipino American Hall of Fame: Dante Basco

Dante Basco is the third honoree in Bidyo’s new show, Filipino American Hall of Fame and the third episode airs this Friday, September 23rd!  Bidyo is a new YouTube channel created by FilAm Creative and its mission is to produce and promote content from emerging Filipino American talent.  Subscribe to the Bidyo Channel here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-cvvEYApGwFOO337gUZuQ     

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Growing up, there were no Filipino American faces on both television and film.  My friends have all mentioned it was the character of “Sulu” played by George Takei on the original 1960’s Star Trek television series as representation of an Asian American image in media.  For some strange reason, I saw Wayne Newton (in the 1970s) the closest to look like a Filipino even though he wasn’t.  But, it was not until I saw a little Filipino boy in a 1980s episode of The Wonder Years

“Cow’s ears” was replaced three years later with “Rufio!” when Dante Basco starred in Steven Spielberg’s 1991 fantasy, Hook along with Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Maggie Smith and the late Robin Williams.

Like any performer, Dante long searched to play a Filipino American character and to tell Filipino American stories to a mainstream audience.  After Hook, his momentum continued landing roles on television and film but playing other Asian characters not specifically Filipino.  Until another decade later when he was cast as Ben Mercado, a talented high school senior who rejected his Filipino heritage in order to fit in.  That film was The Debut directed by Gene Cajayon and also starring Joy Bisco, Tirso Cruz III, Gina Alajar and Eddie Garcia.  The film became the first Filipino American film to be released theatrically nationwide.

In recent years, Dante has been inspiring and supporting young Filipino and Asian American artists to create their own content and tell their own stories.  Sometimes being involved in them such as 2008 NewSpeak TV’s Sketch Comedy Show, 2012’s Hang Loose with KevJumba (Kevin Wu), 2014’s Awesome Asian Bad Guys with Stephen Dypiangco and Patrick Epino (National Film Society) and even being one of our special guest panelists in both our 2nd and 3rd Annual Filipinos In Entertainment and Media events in 2013 and 2014.

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His latest project is an artistic and creative free form endeavor he and others developed in 2014 for Filipino and Asian Americans.  It is called #WeOwnThe8th, an arts collective promoting diversity in media thru music, poetry, comedy, film and etc and meeting once a month on the 8th.  A mixed media movement delivering such creative expression thru social media showcasing original works and having monthly gatherings on the issues facing AAPIs today while presenting live stage performances, film works and seminars held at The Great Company in Downtown Los Angeles.

Actor.  Poet.  Writer.  Producer.  Dante Basco has become a trailblazer for the Filipino American artistic scene for more than a decade.  He continues to work on film, television and New Media (I see him at auditions all the time), supporting Asian American projects from the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival to a friend’s YouTube sketch video, to opening opportunities for current, upcoming and future FilAm talent both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes and providing a free space to FilAm artists to express their voices to the voiceless in hopes that the Hollywood machine itself can pause and take notice.

Written by Edwin Santos (9/22/16)

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

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Bidyo’s Filipino American Hall of Fame: Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars is the second honoree in Bidyo’s new show, Filipino American Hall of Fame and the second episode airs this Sunday, September 18th!  Bidyo is a new YouTube channel created by FilAm Creative.  Bidyo’s mission is to produce and promote content from emerging Filipino American talent.  Subscribe to the Bidyo Channel here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-cvvEYApGwFOO337gUZuQ   

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On September 7, 2010, I had an opportunity to see Bruno Mars perform live on stage at E! Entertainment’s annual private Courtyard Party on the Wilshire Courtyard.  It was my fourth and final year with the cable television network.  But, he was not the headliner.  B.o.B. was the headliner due to his hit song, “Nothing But You” featuring Bruno Mars.  Sadly, Mars was not scheduled to appear as I found out later.

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Interesting facts about Bruno Mars:

– Then Peter Gene Hernandez was given the nickname of “Bruno” because his father said that his son looked a lot like WWE’s 2013 Hall of Fame legendary wrestler, Bruno Sammartino.

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It must be the hair…

– Bruno Mars began impersonating Elvis Presley when he was 3.  At age 4 in 1990, he was featured in a UK documentary about Elvis impersonators.  His early development in stage presence and performance began with the King of Rock N’ Roll.

– Which led to Bruno Mars having a cameo in the James Caan / Nicholas Cage / Sarah Jessica Parker / Pat Morita film, Honeymoon In Vegas in 1992.

You can hear it in his music and see it in his choreographed dance performances at live concerts and on the Grammy stage that his influences are of Doo-Wop, Motown, Michael Jackson and Prince.

– Bruno Mars was the first Super Bowl halftime headlining performer under 30 AND of Filipino descent when he shared the stage with Red Hot Chili Peppers at 2014’s Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

– Bruno Mars became the fourth artist to have held the Super Bowl halftime show twice when he performed and shared the stage with fellow guest performer Beyoncé and headliner Coldplay as 2016’s Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

All this began with his first collaboration with the Korean American Los Angeles group Far East Movement as “Peter Gene Hernandez” on 2009’s “3D.”  Since then, he has written, produced and was guest vocalist for Flo Rida, Travie McCoy, Sean Kingston, Brandy, Adam Levine, the Sugababes and Cee Lo Green, to name a few.

However, with all of his success in the music industry, much like all artists, he, too, faced Hollywood’s ill attempts to place him in a marketable category.  Mars stated that the song “Nothin’ on You” was rejected because of his race by a music industry higher-up.  When they couldn’t place him, in terms of race and ethnicity, he was told his career would not go far [link].

In an April, 2013 interview with GQ Magazine, he used his childhood nickname ‘Bruno’ and changed his surname to ‘Mars,’ in an effort to “avoid being stereotyped.” [link].

He returned to his roots by giving back to the community.  Mars had partnered with the Hawai’i Community Foundation and the GRAMMY Foundation to establish a GRAMMY Camp Scholarship Fund, in order to support the next generation of music makers with funds to provide financial assistance for qualified needs-based applicants from Hawaii.

And, he donated $100,000 to the kids of Bantay Bata, who were among the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (Typhoon Yolanda) in the Philippines, in order to bring back the esteem and morale of the orphans who lost their families and homes.

Multiple-time Grammy award winner Bruno Mars’ success as a solo artist does not stop him from continuing to collaborate with his friends as a featured guest artist.  Mark Ronson’s latest, 2016’s “Uptown Funk” recalls the early days of funk of the 1960’s, 1970s and the 1980s from Motown to James Brown to Parliament to George Clinton to The Gap Band to early King of Pop, Michael Jackson.  These are the musical ingredients that bring all walks of life together into the 21st century.

 

 

– Written by Edwin Santos, 9/17/16

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

Newsletter Subscription: filamcreative@gmail.com

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Bidyo’s Filipino American Hall of Fame: Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens is the first honoree in Bidyo’s new show, Filipino American Hall of Fame and the first episode premieres this Friday, September 16th!  Bidyo is a new YouTube channel created by FilAm Creative.  Bidyo’s mission is to produce and promote content from emerging Filipino American talent.  Subscribe to the Bidyo Channel here:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7-cvvEYApGwFOO337gUZuQ   

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Jack Hernandez and Tony Garbanzos in FILIPINO AMERICAN HALL OF FAME

Vanessa Hudgens is known as a triple threat.  She is an actor, a singer and a dancer — all successful in all three areas — thanks to her breakthrough role as Gabriella Montez in the High School Musical television series and movies.  But, her roles outside High School Musical are what truly made her shine.  Like most performers whose fan base watch Disney, Nickelodeon, Glee…and even High School Musical, actors are known to break out and challenge themselves as artists rather than be typecast in just one role.

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Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in “High School Musical” (2006)

In 2013, my longtime colleague and friend, Marvin Cheng, who I have worked with on three previous films was the production supervisor for Vanessa’s first dramatic lead film to date, Gimme Shelter and he referred me to the production manager about an assistant director’s position.  The interview went well, but I didn’t get the job.  It would have been an interesting observation to witness an artist transform; creatively make choices to authentically play the distraught and troubled Agnes “Apple” Bailey character in a way her fan base have never seen before.  After the film’s release, she won the Pioneering Spirit Best Actress Award at the 2013 Heartland Film Festival for her role in Gimme Shelter.

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Vanessa Hudgens stars in “Gimme Shelter” (2013)

Vanessa confronted her next challenge earlier this year when she was set to perform live on national television in Grease Live! on the last day of January, Sunday night.  On Saturday night, her father passed away from stage IV cancer.  As the old adage goes, “the show must go on.”  Audiences saw Rizzo throughout the live telecast, but one couldn’t help see glimpses of Vanessa during her musical number, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”  A source told US Weekly “it was incredibly hard for her, [link] but she’s a true entertainer so it was on with the show.”  She dedicated the live event to her father.

See Vanessa next in her upcoming new NBC and DC Comics superhero comedy series, Powerless on Monday, January 2, 2017.

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Vanessa Hudgens and Daniel Pudi star in “Powerless” (2017) on NBC

– Written by Edwin Santos, 9/15/16

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

Newsletter Subscription: filamcreative@gmail.com

Blog: filamcreative.org

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Filipino American Representation: Moving Forward

Filipino American Representation:  Moving Forward

                                                                                                                    Written by Edwin A. Santos 

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Early in my career as an actor, I usually was the only Filipino-American on any given project. Many of my contemporaries felt the same way early in their careers — whether as an actor, a producer, an editor, a writer, or even as a background actor. I brought up this subject seven months ago, with editor friend, Dexter Adriano, who now works on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He told me that early in his career, he felt a lot like he was the only one, not just in the company or on the project he was working on, but in the entire industry. Part of the reason I became an actor was to break through these barriers and make Filipino Americans a regular sighting.

EUGENE CORDERO

Six years ago, acting took me to the Upright Citizens Brigade and in 2011, I was taking my UCB 301 class. One night, a bunch of us went to see Diamond Lion, a musical improv show at the UCB Theatre. And I will always remember that show, because that night I saw a Filipino guy support an initiation by starting a rap. It was hilarious to me, because his inflections were just like the mid-to-late-80’s KDAY 1580 AM hip hop I listened to. That was the first night I saw Eugene Cordero.

My initial reaction to him was: “Whoa, another Filipino!” I had just seen Rene Gube (now a writer on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) with his team, Hip Hop Penguin at Cagematch the year before, and he was the first Filipino performer I saw while at UCB. Was this the start of a trend? A year later, I just happened to see Eugene on East Hollywood’s Theatre Row while I was walking to my UCB 401 class. He was just standing outside with his notepad while on his phone. And a few months after that, I saw him again, as one of four teachers I had in my intensive advanced improv class.

During his tenure as both instructor and performer at UCB, he carved out a good chunk of projects – appearing in Drunk History, Kroll Show, House of Lies, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Parks and Recreation, Key & Peele, Playing House, Silicon Valley and as one of the leads in Paul Feig’s Other Space.

 

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CD Billy DaMota and Eugene Cordero at 2015’s 1st FAC Actors Panel

Last year, when I was putting together the inaugural FAC Actors Panel, Eugene was my first choice — to represent not only as an actor, but also as a teacher. The panel was created to be a place for young Filipino American actors to see people who look like them successfully climbing that Hollywood ladder. And who better to show them than Eugene?

In Eugene’s pre-interview, he was asked: “What representation is out there for Filipino American talent to be improvisers?”

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Erica Fortes interviews Eugene Cordero at 2015’s 1st FAC Actors Panel

“To be improvisers, there’s plenty of room for us,” he said. “To find each other and create that group will take some time, but there is definitely a voice that needs to be heard as far as Filipino improvisers are concerned.”

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Eugene Cordero (center) in 2016’s “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”

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Eugene Cordero (right) in 2016’s “Ghostbusters: Answer The Call”

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Eugene Cordero in 2017’s “Kong: Skull Island”

Eugene’s momentum continued onto the big screen this summer with two movies, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Ghostbusters: Answer The Call. And next year, we can look forward to seeing him in Kong: Skull Island. Could he be the Filipino American version of #StarringJohnCho?

NICO SANTOS

I met Nico Santos for the first time on the morning of this year’s FAC Actors Panel. On the main cast of NBC’s Superstore, Nico is playing one of the most highly visible roles for Filipino-Americans on television, so he was definitely at the top of my list. But I didn’t personally know him – I brought him on with the help of 2x panelist, Tess Paras (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).
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Nico Santos and Tess Paras at 2016’s 2nd FAC Actors Panel

Nico shared an interesting story about the origin of his character.

“None of the characters of Superstore were written for any specific ethnicity,” Nico said. “The only part that had a specific ethnicity was Mateo and he was supposed to be a Latino thug. A butch gangster.  He was supposed to be this huge tough guy. But, you know, they were open-minded enough to see me in the role and so I did it as a version of me.  And they ended up really liking it and changing it to a Filipino gay guy.”
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Nico Santos with the cast of “Superstore” special episode, “Olympics”

When asked how Filipinos and Asian Americans have reacted to his character, he said, “They’re super excited!  I also didn’t realize how big a deal it was until I started getting a lot of messages on social media.  Not only Filipino but like also seeing like a queer Filipino on television. When I was getting into the business, all I knew was Alec Mapa, the only ever queer Filipino I ever saw on television.  When I saw him, I was like, ‘Oh! My God! Yes, there’s hope!’  It actually just made me think, wow there really isn’t a whole lot of us if we’re getting this type of response from everybody.”

At the same time, he pointed out that there’s still a long way for Filipino-Americans to go.

“We’re the second largest community in the United States, the largest Asian community in California but we are hardly represented in media at all.”
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Look!  It’s typed out as “Filipino!!!”

In 2011, my agent sent me out to a co-star audition for Raising Hope. In the breakdown, I saw the words  “Filipino / Asian” used in the description for a guest-starring role. Specifically, Filipino / generally Asian. I was ecstatic. I’d never seen “Filipino” before on a television casting breakdown. I was also happy because it meant that writers were starting to create Filipino American characters!

In the end, talent should win, and more and more, that’s the change we’re starting to see. We’ve seen at both of our panels that Hollywood is starting to open up [link].  They will cast POC talent to roles originally written for Caucasian talent. In addition to Nico, Eugene mentioned that his role in Other Space was originally written for an African American character, and his role in House of Lies was originally written for a Caucasian character. And now I’m being brought in on auditions for characters written with Caucasian names such as the case in 2015 when I auditioned for a guest star role of a character named ‘Michael Patrick’ for The Real McCoys.

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FilAm Creative (FAC) Actors Panel & Networking Events

We’ve had some amazing guests on the first two years of the Actors Panel. It makes me excited to see who might join us next year and beyond. There’s a community of us out here, and it’s growing. The future can only get brighter.

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

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See Stars of Superstore, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Mary Poppins @ 2nd Comedy Comedy Fest’s Opening Musical Show, 8pm Thursday, Aug. 25 @ JACCC DTLA

Opening night of The 2nd Annual Comedy Comedy Festival kicks off with a night of musical comedy from the stars of your favorite television comedies and Broadway shows!

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Co-produced by Tess Paras, THE MUSICAL MUSICAL SHOW: A MUSICAL COMEDY SHOW is part of THE COMEDY COMEDY FESTIVAL: A COMEDY FESTIVAL produced by Disoriented Comedy and Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) and it is taking place on Thursday, August 25, 2016 from 8:00pm – 9:30pm.

LOCATION:
Aratani Theatre at the JACCC
244 S San Pedro Street
Los Angeles, California 90012

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FEATURING:
~ HOST Amy Hill (Lifetime’s UnReal, The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
~ Vincent Rodriguez III (The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
~ Nico Santos (NBC’s Superstore) – 2016 #FACactorspanel guest
~ Rodney To (NBC’s Parks & Recreation)
~ Parvesh Cheena (The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, NBC’s A to Z)
~ Tess Paras (The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, YouTube) – 2015 & 2016 #FACactorspanel guest
~ Kevin Yee (Original Broadway cast of Mary Poppins).

JUST ADDED INTO THE MIX:
~ Haneefah Wood (BET’s Zoey Ever After, Broadway casts of Rent and Avenue Q)
~ Ayana Rechenberg
~ Cynthia Kao (staff writer for TBS’ Ground Floor)

BUY TICKETS NOW: $20 for General Admission / $15 for JACCC members:  https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/10106032

—– REFRESHMENTS —–
Beer, Wine and Soju available for purchase.

—– 7PM-8PM OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION —–
Opening Night Reception // Listening Party “Voices of Our Vote: #MyAAPIVote Album” co-presented by Traktivist.com – Asian American Music & Radio (http://www.traktivist.com/) and 18 Million Rising (http://18millionrising.org/)

Walk the red carpet, celebrate the opening night of the festival, and get a preview listen to the “Voices of Our Vote: #MyAAPIVote Album” – a mixtape of 32 tracks by Asian American musicians encouraging folks to turn out to vote on Election Day November 8th. The album will officially drop on VoicesOfOurVote.org on on Sept. 6th and including Rocky Rivera, St. Lenox, Gingee, Priska, Mandeep Sethi, Joules, Gunrolla, Connie Lim, and DANakaDAN.

Featuring:
~ DJ Richie Traktivist
~ Light refreshments and wine, beer and sake.
~ Gourmet cupcakes from Chef Dara Yu (Top 2 Finalist of Master Chef Junior, Season 1)
~ Donuts and treats from Cafe Dulce, Little Tokyo

—– SPONSOR THE FESTIVAL —–
Be a friend to comedy.
Email: sponsors@comedycomedyfest.com

—– TICKETING / BOX OFFICE —–
Got a ticketing question?
The box office is open Tuesday – Friday from 12 to 5 PM and one hour prior to a show.
Phone: (213) 680-3700
Email: boxoffice@jaccc.org

—– CONNECT WITH THE COMEDY COMEDY FESTIVAL —–
comedycomedyfest.com
facebook.com/comedycomedyfest
twitter.com/itscomedycomedy
instagram.com/itscomedycomedy
#ComedyComedyFest

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Below are photos from Opening Night’s Musical Musical Show (August 25, 2016)  

Listed ComedyComedyFest

We are a Community Supporter for the 2nd Comedy Comedy Festival (3rd line, 2nd column)

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Jenny Yang and Alison De La Cruz – stage left – before introductions

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Ayana Rechenberg, Tess Paras (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and Haneefah Wood sang “Typecast.”

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Nico Santos (NBC’s “Superstore”) doing stand up.

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Nico Santos doing karaoke with friends Amy Hill, Cynthia Kao and Rodney To.

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Parvesh Cheena (The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) about to do a song from “Hair.”

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Vincent Rodriguez III, Kevin Yee, Nico Santos, etc. sang/danced Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”

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Vincent Rodriguez III (The CW’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) sang Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”

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Word.

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Vincent Rodriguez III and Tess Paras sang a song from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

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Vincent Rodriguez III and Tess Paras in a duet with “Suddenly Seymour.”

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The Musical Musical Show of the 2nd Comedy Comedy Festival at Aratani Theatre

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

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Self Acceptance vs. Self Denial: This Is My Filipino American Story

Self Acceptance vs. Self Denial:  This Is My Filipino American Story

Written by Edwin A. Santos 

1st FAC Banner Blog 2016

Why are Filipino Americans still forgotten and invisible?

 

Filipino American professor and community activist E.J.R. David asked that question (link) after reading a piece from the New York Times series, “Conversations on Race” (link) where Asian Americans talk about how stereotypes unfairly brand them as the “model minority.”  He noticed that out of the twelve participants whose stories were featured and shared, not one name appeared to be Filipino.

 

He pointed to five key reasons why Filipino American are still forgotten and invisible, even today:
(1)  Uniqueness of Filipino American History
(2)  Huge Filipino American Population
(3)  Large Immigrant Population
(4)  Significant Contributions to “Asian American” Identity
(5)  Filipino Experience Racism at a Very High Rate

 

I’d like to add a sixth point:  Self Acceptance vs. Self Denial. Identity.  This is my story, a Filipino American story.

 

I first wrote about this subject on my own blog (link), after Filipinos reached a milestone in American TV history…twice on the same week.  While every Pinoy and Filipino American publication reported on Crazy Ex-Girfriend when the musical comedy introduced the first Filipino American family on primetime broadcast mainstream television, I noted that history was also made when two different shows that featured Filipino American storylines in the same week.  And, it was the lesser known NBC comedy I related to the most.
 
Truth Be Told
starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Vanessa Minnillo-Lachey as parents, with Sophie Mackenzie Nack as their daughter.  The episode was about self acceptance.
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Vanessa Minnillo-Lachey and the cast of the NBC comedy, “Truth Be Told”

The Thanksgiving episode of Truth Be Told (link) was a long time coming for me. The subject of denying your cultural heritage wasn’t new — I first saw it in Gene Cajayon’s 2000 film The Debut, when Dante Basco’s character rebelled against the Filipino heritage of his immigrant parents. But the experience of seeing it on television, in prime time, on a broadcast network — the power of television — it was an eye opener.  For someone who spent most of his life denying being Filipino, I saw my life speaking to me from the screen for the first time. It was like holding a mirror up to my face.

 

In the show, it was the first-generation, American-born Filipina mother, the parent, who rejected her culture her entire life growing up — only to embrace it later when she finds her daughter rejecting her Filipino Barbie doll, subjecting it to stereotypical and almost derogatory terms. It hit below the belt for me, hearing a child say that. I realized how ignorant I was.
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Sophie Mackenzie Nack avoiding Filipino food on Thanksgiving in “Truth Be Told”

I do not speak for those who came to the United States of America as children and decided to deny who they are.  In my opinion, it would be a difficult task because they spoke Tagalog and carried the traits that are specific to the culture.  I do not. I was born and raised in the U.S. and my parents never taught and spoke to me Tagalog. I’m English-only.  And, despite being exposed to the culture — from family gatherings in the U.S., to summer vacations in the Philippines, to being part of cultural organizations, to even living in the Philippines for one entire year — I continued to deny my ethnicity.  Even when faced with choosing my identity on a job application, rather than checking off Filipino, instead I check off Asian.  Most of the time, it was not even an effort.  In Los Angeles, I listened to KROQ music than the R&B music on KJLH or the KDAY jams Filipinos love. I enjoy baseball more than basketball.  Moreover, I told people I am American Filipino.  And so on. There was nothing in common between us.

In an interview from Yahoo Style (link), actress Shay Mitchell of Pretty Little Liars admitted she was once deeply unhappy with her half Filipino-heritage and went out of her way to look more Caucasian.  
Pretty Little Liars - Episode 7.03 - The Talented Mr. Rollins

Shay Mitchell in “Pretty Little Liars” on Freeform

“I hated being asked who I was, and all my friends had blonde hair and blue eyes,” Mitchell says, having grown up in a predominately white area of Toronto.  She dyed her hair lighter, wore colored contacts and hid from the sun to leave her skin pale.

 

I always believed only first-generation Filipino Americans would go through this experience of self denial, and every generation after them would proudly accept their culture.  But, every Filipino American faces the question anew, of how to identify with and accept their heritage.

 

As I matured, I began to embrace the Filipino culture and my early exposure to it in earlier periods of my life.  I also started having more Filipino American friends, most of them much younger than me — because they have an experience like mine:  American-born and English-only. I felt a sense of guilt of my past denial of my own culture. I finally spoke about this in 2008, at the Chicago Filipino American Film Festival, in a group discussion among other FilAm filmmakers. It was a load off after carrying it for years.

 

Truth Be Told was quietly cancelled at the end of last year, as NBC struck down the sets and cast lead actor Tone Bell in another series.  The final two episodes were burned off on Christmas Day.  But, the spark was already lit.  Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian ancestry group in the United States of America (link: Page 15, Column 2).  We haven’t been fully seen yet.  We haven’t been fully forgotten.  Our next breakthroughs will come from getting ourselves first, and continuing to share what we see in ourselves.

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FilAm Creative (FAC) is an all volunteer community organization dedicated to the advancement of Filipino-Americans in entertainment and media.

Newsletter Subscription: filamcreative@gmail.com

Blog: filamcreative.org

Facebook Page: facebook.com/filamcreative

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Twitter: @FilAmCreative 

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