In a recent interview with Vulture, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, star Darren Criss commented his favorite thing about himself is being able to pass for white. Criss, who is half-filipino speaks on how hes had it easier in the entertainment industry becasue he doesn't look half filipino. The entire interview is pretty cringeworthy and Criss is an example of whats wrong with the world.
Is this the first time you’ve played a half-Filipino character?
Yeah, it is, and the harsh truth is like, when else would that be a specific character? And that’s not a bad thing or a good thing. Somebody was talking about Asian-American representation, and he’s like, “I don’t see a lot of stuff for Filipinos specifically,” and I went, “I guess not, but I guess I don’t think about it.” I have the luxury of being half-white and looking more Caucasian, so it doesn’t weigh on my conscience as much, like, “Ugh, why aren’t there more roles?” I think as an actor, you just study and you wanna bring your A game all the time and hopefully it doesn’t even matter.
But a great story about Jon Jon Briones [who plays Andrew’s father on the show]. Ryan Murphy, everybody was blown away by Jon Jon, and Ryan asked me, “How come I’ve never heard of him? How come he doesn’t get cast in stuff?” And I’m like, “Ryan, he does. He’s been working for a long time. He’s a tried-and-true Broadway actor, man. Just because he’s not on billboards and glamour magazines doesn’t mean he’s not a working actor.” He’s like, “Well, I don’t get why I still haven’t heard of him.” I’m like, “He’s a Filipino man, dude.” There’s only so many opportunities that people can lock themselves into accepting when they’re casting shit, unless he’s playing the Thai terrorist on CSI or something. And what I hope happens is this will be a great stepping stone for him, for people to go, “Ah, he’s a good actor,” and then just cast where race isn’t a thing. But it’s a weird and unfortunate thing that you have to wait for an opportunity like this one. Luckily, Jon Jon did the thing we all hope for, which is you’re just a good actor. He just fucking knocks it out of the park and that transcends his type, and what you hope for any actor, really, if you took race out of the equation, like, you get cast as the hot blonde ingenue and hopefully you’re a good actress, and then they go, “Oh, okay cool, well, we can make her this look,” and everybody gets surprised even though they’re, guess what? A good actor.
Anyway, to answer your question, yes. This is the first time. It’s really an amazing serendipity that I’m the same ethnic makeup, more or less. I was joking with Ryan when he wanted to do this, “Of course I’d love to, but even if you decide to do it with somebody else, good luck finding somebody in your camp that’s the same age range, looks like him and is half-Filipino, because if you don’t cast somebody who’s half-Filipino, the community’s going to cry bloody murder, so don’t not do that.”
And rightfully so.
Yeah. I mean, I’d like to think that there’s some guy reading this who looks the same, maybe the same age, half-Filipino, that’s like, “Ugh, I could have done it.” And he probably really could have. I lucked out. The timing worked out really great.
Has it played a part in casting for you at all?
No. No. I’ve been really happy and really thrilled. I always say one of my favorite things about myself is that I’m half-Filipino but I don’t look like it. It’s always like an ace up my sleeve of like, “Oh really? How nuts.” So it never really has. I just look like a Caucasian guy, which is nice. I’ve got the multiethnic thing going on. People think I’m like Italian or Mediterranean. No, my mom’s very Filipino. I grew up with a Filipino mom. Anybody who’s grown up in that world knows that’s a thing you share.
Did it ever in your life?
No. I suppose I’m very lucky because any people of color, it’s a thing. It’s a thing that is your best asset, and when it doesn’t work, is your greatest enemy. And it’s tough, yeah.
Do you identify as Asian-American?
No. I think that’d be unfair. I think that’d sound like I’m reaching for the minority card on a college application. I think that would be unfair. Yeah, my mom’s Asian-American. She’s from the Philippines and came here and then married a white guy, and here I am. But maybe it’s because of the way I look. Maybe if I looked a little more pan-Asian and I was put in that box then I would be like, “Yeah, I identify as Asian-American,” but maybe because the obstacles that may come up haven’t that I don’t think about it. But that’s a really interesting question. I’ve never thought about that. For better or for worse, I guess not. But I guess I am. What do you think? Am I? On paper I guess I kind of am.