Binge watching this season was definitely on an all-time high – being the last resort for most who wanted to take their mind off the lockdown situation. Have you ever thought about how many of these TV stars have Filipino blood in them? I’ve realized, that there are a few. So as much as we celebrate all the international stars like Apl d’Ap of the Black Eyed Peas, Nicole Scherzinger, Hailee Steinfeld, Rob Schneider, Enrique Iglesias, Dante and Dion Basco, Jocelyn Enriquez, and so many others, here’s a new list of interesting television personalities who have conquered the boob tube around the world.
I was so excited to watch the second season of “THE ORDER” on Netflix only to be surprised that one of the characters who constantly “stirs the pot” is Pinay! LOURIZA TRONCO plays Gabrielle Dupres (Dupree) in the horror-drama-web-television series that premiered in May 2019. Louriza was born and raised in Canada to Filipino immigrants. She started singing and performing at age 5 and after graduating from the Canadian College of Performing Arts in British Columbia she pursued a TV career that has given her roles like Jodi Mappa on the Nickelodeon and YTV nusical comedy, “Make it Pop” and her current role on “The Order.” Her film credits include “Zapped” where she played Yuki and “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” where she played Andrea.
For the “vampire-lovers” out there who’d like to re-live the perpetual love triangle of Elena Gilbert and the Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon, the supernatural teen drama “VAMPIRE DIARIES” now streaming on Stan and Netflix features STEVEN MCQUEEN who plays Jeremy Gilbert, Elena’s brother. Steven comes from “the” McQueen clan with dad Chad who is an actor and his grandfather, the late actor Steve McQueen (Towering Inferno). He got his Filipino blood from his grandmother Neile Adams whose niece, Isabel Preysler got married to Julio Iglesias which makes Steven and Enrique Iglesias cousins once-removed. After leaving the Vampire Diaries, Steven played Jimmy Borelli on the NBC drama Chicago Fire. Steven also reprises his Vampire Diaries role in its off shoot CW's "Legacies."
If you’re a fan of folk and bedtime stories coupled with action and adventure, “GRIMM” on Netflix is a good binge-worthy series that ran from 2011 to 2017. Here you’ll find one of my favorite Tv actors, REGGIE LEE who plays the part of candid and funny Desk Sergeant Drew Wu. The fantasy series combines supernatural issues and police drama. One of the great contributions of Reggie was suggesting the story of the “Aswang”, a Filipino mythical character that supposedly shapeshifts and eats the unborn fetus from the mother’s womb. This episode did not only feature Reggie’s acting chops but also gave viewers a peak into the Filipino culture. Reggie’s film achievements include “The Fast and the Furious,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and has appeared on several TV dramas like “Prison Break,” “Chinaman’s Chance” , NBC’s “Person’s Unknown” and “NCIS: New Orleans.”
On the NBC sitcom “THE GOOD PLACE” which can also be found on Netflix, we see the loveable character of Jason Mendoza played by MANNY JACINTO whose family emigrated to Canada when he was 3 years old (1990). Manny earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the University of British Columbia but was drawn to the limelight after participating in a hip hop dance competition that brought him later on to acting as a career. From Vancouver, her moved to Los Angeles, US where he became part of several TV series like “Once Upon a Time,” “Supernatural,” and “iZombie.” After his 2015 win for best supporting performance in a dramatic series on the Leo Awards for his role in the Canadian spy drama “The Romeo Section” things started to look up for Manny. In 2016, he landed the role of Jianyu /Jason Mendoza, the EDM-obsessed “lovable doofus” from Florida on the mutli-awarded TV series (Including the Peabody award in 2019) “The Good Place” – an American fantasy comedy TV series exploring the funny disasters one can encounter in the afterlife. Here he plays opposite Kristen Bell (Bad Moms, Frozen), Jameela Jamil, William Jackson Harper and Ted Danson (Three Men and a Baby) and D’Arcy Carden. Manny will soon be soon on the Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise.
One of the most celebrated roles to date is that of Josh Chan played by TV and theatre actor VINCENT RODRIGUEZ III on the multi-awarded TV musical romantic comedy series called “CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND.”Created by the show’s lead Rachel Bloom, the series does not only feature Josh as the romantic lead but also showcases his Filipino culture from the strong Catholic faith, to holidays spent eating dinuguan and adobo with a massive extended Filipino family, to a singing aunt (Played by Lea Salonga as Aunt Myrna) at Josh’s sister’s wedding. Vincent was born in San Francisco but 3 of his sisters were born in Manila. He graduated with a degree from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. After the 4-season series, Vincent now portrays a recurring character on the Netflix series “INSATIABLE.” He plays Detective Rudy Cruz opposite the shows’ Debbie Ryan, Dallas Roberts and Alyssa Milano.
When I first saw him on “Crazy Rich Asians,” I never thought that the actor playing the fab role of Oliver T’sien was Filipino. Manila-born NICO SANTOS moved to the US when he was 16. He attended the Gresham Centennial High School with his brother and later on discovered his love for theatre when he attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s summer seminar for high school students in his junior year. What got him the break that we see on binge-worthy TV now was all because of a happy accident when one of the Asian actors performing on the CBS Diversity Showcase dropped out. The show’s regular audience were industry professionals which includes agents and casting directors. Consequently, he got invited to more auditions until his landed the his life-changing role in the NBC comedy television show, “SUPERSTORE” acting with America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Ben Feldman and a host of equally funny actors in a rib-tickling series about a group of people working in a fictional big box store. Running on 5 seasons so far, “Superstore” is available on Amazon Prime.
On more serious TV, CONRAD RICAMORA plays Oliver Hampton on the law drama “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.” Conrad’s father is Ron Ricamora was born in the Philippines and moved to the US when he was 10 years old. In 2013, Conrad played the role of Ninoy Aquino in the musicale “Here Lies Love” where he won a Theater World Award and was nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical. He first appeared on the Viola Davis-led series in 2014 playing an HIV- positive IT hacking whiz. But after seeing what Conrad brought to the role, his initially recurring charcter was made a regular on the show and on season 5, featured his characters wedding where he wore a barong and as his on-screen mother, Manila-born actress Mia Katigbak walks him down the aisle, she affectionately says, “Ang aking anak.”
The next actor is BOB MORELY who’s Australian-Filipino (His mom’s Filipino and his father is Irish-Australian). He was nominated for most popular new male talent in 2007 for his role as Drew Curtis on Home and Away. He later on joined the cast of Neighbours as part of the series’ first TV gay couple. However, the binge-worthy TV series he is currently apart of is CW’s “THE 100”, a post-apocalyptic science-fiction drama that chronicles the lives of the 100 people sent back to earth from outer space to check if the earth is liveable again. Here he plays the broody anarchist Bellamy Blake the show’s main character opposite Clarke Griffin played by Elyza Taylor who he recently got married to.
If you’ve been binge watching‘PRETTY LITTLE LIARS,” you should definitely know that SHAY MITCHELLwho plays Emily Fields (beautiful, strong and bisexual) is Kapampangan from her mother’s side (Precious Garcia). Shay’s father is of Scottish and Irish descent. Born in Ontario, Canada, she began modelling after high school allowing her to travel cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong and Barcelona. She then focused on an studying acting in Toronto and bagged her first starring role in the musical drama “Dreamland” in 2016. In the same year she played Tina in the comedy Mother’s Day and later on Megan Reed in the thriller “Possession of Hannah Grace” in 2018.
In the realm of sweetness and pretty awesome is VANESSA HUDGENS who captured our hearts as Gabriella Montes on the Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” and surprised us with her 360 degree transformation as Blondie on “Sucker Punch.” She continues to captivate us with a controversially limited TV series called ‘POWERLESS.” This features her as the lead character Emily Locke, head of Research and Development of Wayne Security in this series set in the DC Universe which includes “The Flash” and “Supergirl.” Interestingly, Emily Locke acknowledges her Filipino heritage by telling everyone, “I’m half Filipino.” Vanessa’s mother Gigi is from Manila.
And of course, the binge worthy series that has the most eventful happenings on and off screen brought on to centre stage the recent Emmy and Golden Globe winner who played Filipino serial killer Andrew Cunanan in the “Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”, DARREN CRISS. Darren played Blaine Anderson on “GLEE” – the Fox musical comedy-drama which inspired a number of musical series to date. Darren’s mom, Cerina is from Cebu, Philippines and is the youngest of two kids. Glee in now playing on Netflix.
Did I miss anyone else? If I did, we'd like to read from you! Tell us what you think on the comment section and be part of the making of The Australian Filipina. If you want to watch fellow Filipinos bust their acting chops on different binge-worthy Pinoy TV, go to The Filipino Channel - Australia for more information on what's happening to the Philippines' showbizdom and witness homegrown talent at its best!