Filipino-American actor Nico Santos is having a great time in Hollywood right now.
Not only is Santos a main character in hit comedy series Superstore, but he’s also getting ready for the release of two upcoming films.
One is an animated film titled Wish Dragon, in which Santos will be offering his voice alongside Jackie Chan.
The other is the hotly anticipated film Crazy Rich Asians. The film is based off of Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name and boasts having an all-Asian cast. Many anticipate the movie for its focus on Asian-American and Asian experiences as well as for its hunky lead Henry Golding.
Nico Santos recently spoke with the Huffington Post to share his thoughts on the project and the future of LGBTQ characters in film.
Santos says he at first had a hard time in Hollywood. Coming from a stand-up comedy background, the Philippines-born immigrant found the requirements of acting in Hollywood to be constricting.
“It was actually really hard to go from stand-up ― where I was so used to being myself ― to becoming an actor, where you had to fit the mold of what they were looking for,” Santos stated.
That said, he also realizes how film is going in the right direction in terms of representing dynamic queer characters.
“Some queer kids are just more straight-passing than others. I was not one of those kids. If you saw ‘Love, Simon,’ I was not Simon. I was Ethan … I feel like it’s harder for people like me who are obviously gay. I did go through a phase of trying to fit in more. But I just reached a point where I was like, ‘This is who I am. And I can’t hide or deny that part of myself.’ Because why would I want to?”
“Once I became more comfortable in my skin, that’s when things started opening up for me. The fact that I get to play a queer Filipino on television and another queer character in 'Crazy Rich Asians' is huge. I never thought I’d have a career being myself. I always thought that being an actor in Hollywood meant that I would have to put that side of me on the back burner. A lot of times with queer representation, it’s always like the masculine or straight-passing characters that they want to put out there. First, it was broad stereotypes of sissy florists and hairdressers, and then it became straight-acting white guys. And now it’s really great to see the queer landscape really change to include everybody and make the rest of the world understand that gays are not one or two things.”
But, Hollywood still has some room left to grow says Santos.
To him, there are still so many different stories that need to be told and so many different kinds of characters that can be created. This means that not only can we get characters who live in intersections like being Filipino and gay, but also characters who are dynamic in their actions too.
“Like with Mateo in ‘Superstore,’ said Santos, “I love that he’s allowed to be a little bit of a villain. I feel like, before, people were like, ‘You can’t have the Asian gay guy be a villain. That’s putting a bad name to the community.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, that’s just part of his personality. Some people are bad. Some people are good. Not all the time.’ But you have to show what’s real, right?”
Nico Santos is giving us intersectional realness on our tv screens and our movie screens. Here’s hoping that we see more of him in the future and that his movies Crazy Rich Asians and Wish Dragon perform well at the box office.