Ok, so I’ve been an actor for most my life now, well over 20 years… When you stop to think about it, it kind of sounds crazy for me to say I’ve been an actor over twenty years… think I’ve had my SAG card since 1985. (That’s a Screen Actors Guild card, simply meaning I’m in the actors union[for those that didn’t know]) See, I started acting as a kid, my whole family really, we came down to LA from the Bay Area, a little blue-collar town called Pittsburg. Well, when we moved down here, I was fortunate enough to book the first audition I ever went on for a television show. The show was called “The Wizard”, it was an hour drama and it starred this actor who is a “little” person. I think that’s the pc term these days. Anyhow, it was an hour show and I actually booked the job and I played a Native American (another pc term). Funny thing, another kid actor booked that episode named Kenny Morrison, who was also playing a Native and would eventually become a really good friend of mine… neither one of us actually being Native American, matter a fact, his mother might have been part Filipino… and he went on to play Atreyu in the Neverending Story II.
Basically, I started working in Hollywood as a child and I actually started working a lot. So much so, I would end up missing school pretty frequently and what I was sad about, missing school functions like the eighth grade dance. Things like that seem almost trivial now, but back then, it was like life and death… Well the point is, I was working and this was actually before I did “Hook”.
One day I remember I had this conversation with my then manager about the possibility of me getting a nose job! Yeah… a friggin nose job! I don’t know, maybe I didn’t get a particular job, probably due to how I looked. See growing up in Hollywood, there weren’t many Filipino actors and there was absolutely no Filipino roles, so my jobs consisted of me playing anything and every thing from any form of Latino to any form of Asian and even some black or white roles for characters that they couldn’t find good enough black or white kids. So this question of a nose job arises… I must have only been 14 and was seriously asked to give it some strong thought…
A nose job… First of all, it was the eighties and nose jobs were in. Of course the manager sighted people like Michael Jackson who got a nose job and how it helped his career.(at least that’s what she said) Even my then acting teacher told me Elvis Presley had a nose job early in his career.(still not sure if that’s true) She even offer to set up the appointment to the doctor that did a friend of her’s nose.
As a teenager, this is a weird thing to think about… Hell, thinking back on it now it’s a little weird. The thing about it is, there were several people putting pressure on me about geting this procedure done and not just business, I know that there are certain people in my family, one aunt for certain that would’ve jumped at a chance to get their nose “fixed”. And its a pretty big thing to go and change the thing smack dab in the middle of your face.
Ok, growing up I was always teased by my other brothers about having a “big” nose… and I can’t lie, it was kind of big, especially on my little body at that time. I look at old pictures of me back in the day and boy did I have a big nose. I guess I was teased, like stories of young Michael Jackson being teased by his brothers. But it was my nose…
Now I’m not sure if the actual appointment was set, but I do remember realizing something… See, my management and what I felt at the time, as “Hollywood,” wanted me to get my nose “fixed”… “fixed”, “changed”… but “changed” to what? I realized they wanted me to change my nose to look more like a white person’s nose. See, I’m Filipino, I’m not a Latin actor or light-skinned Black actor, who maybe if I just changed a little thing, like my nose… all of a sudden I can maybe pass for white. I just figured no matter what my nose looks like, I’m never going to be able to pass for white and all those “white” roles are never going to open up for me, at least not in that way and ultimately, that’s not how I wanted to play this game in Hollywood… I planned to make it another way.
So I kept my nose, my Filipino nose, some may say “black” nose… this ethnic nose any way you look at it. This Basco nose, the same one that is on my dad’s face, his brothers’ face, my cousins’ and my grandmother’s… & I succeeded in this town anyways.