Any Less Human

Last night I received a racist comment about myself from a guest.

While making a purchase, the guest asked me where I was from. “I’m from Southern California.” He looked and me said ” No like, where are you actually from, because well I can see you have a darker skin color.” I just continued to answer saying, I was born in California and have lived here my entire life.
” But where are you ACTUALLY from, what’s your parents nationality”
“Well sir, my mother is from the Philippines, while my father and his family were born in Nebraska”
“Oh well, It’s a good thing your dad is white, and you have that good side of you. But hey, at least your mom is probably a good cook- it’s probably what she could teach you”

I know a lot of people would be wondering why I didn’t say anything to him, or tell my lead, but to be quite honest I was too shocked and appalled that someone would want me to be my proud of my white side versus my Filipino side.
It’s clear just by looking at me that I am completely of white descent. I’m brown- I always will be,and I’m so happy that I am. But it wasn’t always that way.
I grew up often wishing I could have white skin because that’s what all the princesses were. I refused to watch anime and often avoided hanging out with other Filipinos because I didn’t want to fit into a stereotype I thoroughly grew up believing my white side, was the better side of me because of what was presented to me through the media, the same media that I wanted to make a career out of..As much as I could go on and on about this, I eventually learned to love my biracial heritage.
However part of me accepting and loving my heritage also comes along with me accepting that though I am a woman of color, I myself have to check my privilege because I don’t have to worry about just being another statistic if I let my grades slip. I don’t have to fear for my life when I see police officers. I don’t have to fear getting assaulted or even murdered when I go to the bathroom.
Racism is very real, that one comment I received doesn’t even begin to describe the brutality that occurs everyday. And the fact that we have a man runs on the fears of others possibility becoming our president terrifies me. And should terrify you too.
Racism and oppression still thrive in this country. And just because it’s not always as clear as Donald Trump wanting to ban all Muslims from entering the country doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen every moment of every day. To say that racism is over because segregation is just means you aren’t opening your eyes. Fear has created so much hatred and close mindedness. But if you truly look around, you would see the world is actually a magical place.
Immigrants and people of color are what make this country beautiful. They aren’t any less human than you are.

***And actually my mother never taught me how to cook, she did however teach me to treat everyone I meet with kindness and understanding.

It’s about time…

16 tony nominations.

That’s more than any other musical in the History of the Tony’s

As the musical leaves for it’s US tour next year, casting calls around the country have people lining up desperate to be apart of this new hit.

Yet the casting directors themselves have spoken; most of the main cast is going to made for someone who is not white. I’ve watched as people of white background complain saying it’s racism and they should have right to at least get you the part. Okay maybe it’s not fair, the biggest musical in the world right now is asking for people of color to audition. So wrong. Or is it.

My self growing up as a women of color in the performing arts scene have found my roles limited due to the character being written as white and not intended for someone who looked like me. It breaks my heart because all my dream roles: Eliza in My Fair Lady, Donna in Mamma Mia, Velma Kelly in Chicago, Anastasia in the musical of the same name, and now Sylivia Llewyn Deevis in Finding Neverland, are all traditionally white. And I spoke for many other people of color who have been told they just don’t fit the look of their dream role

Please don’t speak about “reverse racism” when you have never experienced true discrimination as a minority. I’m glad Hamilton is being direct in their casting and to anyone who is upset they cannot audition for the lead just know that’s probably because there are over 100 musicals already written for you.

And if this leads you to hate the musical then all I have to say is this; You don’t have to LIKE Hamilton. But to pretend it isn’t good as opposed to just chalking it up to not being your cup of tea is ridiculous. There is a REASON it’s so popular right now. It’s educational. It’s accessible. It’s racially inclusive. It’s well written and clever. It’s bringing a whole new audience to the theater.

You don’t have to like it. But you not liking it doesn’t make it bad.

I can’t wait to watch it annihilate the Tony Awards.

( Ah yes but my heart for Finding Neverland is sad that it wasn’t nominated for anything)

Finding Neverland

New York City was my emerald city and I was Dorothy following the yellow brick road to this place I had never been, but it was going to be were my dreams could come true. It was the place I would beg my parents to plan a vacation too instead of another camping trip. In all my favorite movies, New York was romanticized as this incredible city where people fall in love and people would all move to their own beat, and no would ever criticize you because your punk rock style was different from there jazzy blues.

The more I grew up, the more NYC represented a freedom away from a strict childhood, and as I fell in love with Broadway I was convinced of that faithful day that I would own an apartment right on Times Square and see a Broadway show every week. This is the life of the glamorous writer going to the Met Galas and walking down the street in my high heels I wanted for myself. I’ve written about this image I’ve created for myself not only in my previous articles, but throughout my whole life. Imagining the bustling movement of the city created excitement and I waited for that faithful day where I could call New York mine. One day the greatest city in the world would be my home.

I’ve always imagined knowing that I’ve found a home, would be the same feeling I’ve had whenever I’ve fallen in love. Like knowing that I was exactly where I needed to be; I wouldn’t be thinking about anything else, only about the feeling over overwhelming excitement, that moment you forget to breathe, and it’s terrifying, but in the best way possible.

When I got out of my taxi cab and stepped onto the streets for the first time, I felt excited, and proud that I had finally made it to New York. Yet it took me all of a minute to realize, something wasn’t right. Why wasn’t I crying the tears of excitement, why wasn’t my heart beating fast, had  I hyped up this city too much?

The next 24 hours I spend getting lost in the city, admiring my hotel views, and fulfilling the dream of finally running through central park singing along to That’s How You Know from Enchanted. New York was lovely, and I didn’t mind the crowd and loved the ability  to fiercely independent. I took hundreds of pictures for the views were truly something my Californian self wasn’t use too. Manhattan truly was the greatest city there was, yet as much as it killed me, I didn’t think I was going to be able call this place my home.

Then finally at night, my real childhood dream was about come true; my first Broadway show. When given the selection among the myriad of shows I could see, the choice was simple: Finding Neverland. A fellow thespian might wonder why I chose that as the first Broadway show I would see when there iconic shows such as Lion King and Kinky Boots on the scene. Simply,Finding Neverland is my favorite movie, in fact I love the movie more than I love Peter Pan itself. As a writer I find inspiration and as a human I find the messages of the film always leave me in awe. I had been following the production of the musical for years; it would be foolish of me of to not choose this as the first official Broadway musical to see.

My seats were orchestra and my body shaking of pure happiness as I held up my first  Broadway playbill. With the sound of the first song, the lights dimmed and the curtain rose as I see Peter Pan chasing after tinker bell, laughing ever so giddily. The opening number began intensely and I was completely unable to hold back my smile. I love the film ever so much and the musical had captured all the elements that made the film special in my heart. I clapped profoundly after each number and found with each smile and each burst of laughter created by the musical, I wasn’t worrying about what frightened me or made me feel alone. It wasn’t even 2 minutes into intermission before I decided to buy around 100 dollars of Finding Neverland merchandise, the money didn’t bother me; I knew it was the right thing to do. I could have taken the whole production home if I could

Now onto to the second act, where I found myself for the first time in over 7 months finally able to sob as I watched my favorite character get to travel to the eternal magical place called Neverland. As the ensemble sang and she flew off into the sky I all I wanted to do was jump out of my seat and fly with her- after all I had enough faith and that’s what flying is, having absolute faith. And when I walked out of that theatre and back onto Times Square I felt like I was leaving a part of my heart behind and I just wanted to go back even for a simple moment.

Everything about being in that room was overwhelming in the best way possible. Finding Neverland  the musical enlightened my imagination and left me speechless, in tears of happiness, completely oblivious to anything else that could possibly be happening. It had been so long since I’ve last felt this way that I almost didn’t realize I had fallen in love, not with a city, with a musical. The world is in love with Peter Pan, but I, I was in love with the land of J.M Barrie’s creation and wanted to join Sylvia in her journey to Neverland.  I wanted to go with her and escape that crocodile called time that constantly seemed to chase after me and tell me that I needed to figure out my life and I was getting to old to be a dreamer.

The rest of my time in New York I spent either listening to the Finding Neverland soundtrack, talking about it like a giddy school girl, or wishing I was already back at my job at the Disneyland resort. 19 years thinking New York, as wonderful as it is, was my home and I spent it wanting to go back to Disneyland. In that very moment I realized I spent my life in search of a home, but I was already there. Not a single day in my job goes without a smile and song. Every adult guest I’ve encountered carries the spirit of the 5 – year- old on their way to meet Mickey Mouse, a spirit full of promise and enthusiasm. Disneyland is timeless magical, and Disneyland is forever. Everyday I get to see and be apart of the magic that makes dreams turn into a reality, that alone gives me the strength to carry on with my life that at most times doesn’t feel like I’m getting something right. And that’s a home, a place where you’re surrounded by so much love and magic that life seems timeless.

Just like Dorothy the Emerald City isn’t my home. New York is beautiful, thriving, and I hope to come back and visit. I spent a lifetime on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, but this whole time Neverland was where I’m meant to be and where I’m going to stay. After all: There’s no place quiet like home.