We posted a list of Filipino American Media Makers, including auteurs and actors, for PART I of our list of folks to watch. Here’s Part II.
The Reality Standouts
Manila Luzon: Flamboyant, beautiful, and the perfect amount of diva, Manila Luzon won us over in the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Born Karl Westerberg, she was a fan favorite and always received praise from the judges. She may have been the runner up in her season, but she definitely worked it out enough to be the best damn Fil-Am drag queen in the business today.
Dale Talde: On the fourth season of Top Chef, Dale was kind of a lose cannon. His temper was fiery, but he still managed to not be the crazy villain of the season. He managed to inject Filipino culture into some of his dishes he cooked on the show, but sadly, he did not win. He went on to compete in Top Chef All-Stars and in 2012 opened his own restaurant in New York called Talde, which gives a twist on Vietnamese, Japanese, and Filipino cuisine.
Jessica Sanchez: During her run on the 11th season of American Idol, her pipes got her high marks from the judges week after week performing songs by power divas like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Celine Dion. She made it to the finals, but ended up being the runner-up. After the show, she signed to Interscope records, released her debut album Me, You & The Music, appeared on Glee, and sang for President Obama. It sounds like she is coping well with her runner-up status.
The Comedy Brigade
Christine Gambito: You may know her as HappySlip on her uber-popular YouTube channel. With her character acting background, Gambito brought her arsenal of comedy skills and her uncanny impressions of her family members to YouTube. Her channel (all written, directed and produced by her) quickly became popular and earned her a YouTube Video Award nomination for Best Comedy in 2006. Her popularity even got her a gig as the ambassador for tourism for the Philippines. She is truly one of the trailblazer YouTube stars.
Eugene Cordero: The actor/comedian/expert improviser is climbing up through the ranks. I first heard him on the “Comedy Bang! Bang!” podcast as the character “Tito Ben” and then later discovered that he was on Showtime’s House of Lies and is 1/3rd of the sketch group Buffoons. He’s also stretched his improv skills on the musical improv show, Diamond Lion and a guest improviser on Upright Citizens Brigade’s ASSSSCAT. Next up for him is a spot in Paul Feig’s half-hour comedy series, Other Space. on Yahoo!.
Charlyne Yi: I knew there was something special about Charlyne Yi when I saw her on Knocked Up as the odd giggling girl. I would later discover that she was a stand-up comic with her own charming (and slightly peculiar) sense of humor. She would later go on and star in TV shows (House M.D.) and other movies (This is 40 and Paper Heart—which she also wrote). But my all-time favorite video of her is an amusing reenanctment of a dramatic scene from Dirty Dancing with Channing Tatum. It’s the best.
The Music Maestro
DJ Bonics: There are many Filipino DJs out there, but one that you need to know is DJ Bonics, the DJ of rapper Wiz Khalifa. When he’s not DJ’ing for Wiz, DJ Bonics (a.k.a. Brandon Glova) is lending his DJ’ing skills for 96.1 Kiss FM in Pittsburgh and Wired 96.5 in Philly.
Caterina Fake: Caterina Fake began her career working on websites for big-time Fortune 500 companies and Salon.com. She later went on to be the co-founder of one of the most popular photo-sharing websites on the Internet—you may have heard of it—it’s called Flickr. The site was eventually acquired by Yahoo! and Fake went on to do more of her own ventures including her most recent project, Findery, an app that allows people to leave notes in specific geographic locations to help travelers discover and explore new places.
The Super Overachiever
Robert Lopez: If you have ever uttered any lyric to the song “Let it Go” from the Disney blockbuster Frozen you can thank Robert Lopez for planting that catchy tune in your ear. He and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez co-wrote the song which went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. This put Lopez on the prestigious EGOT list. He was the first Filipino American and 12th person ever to win an Emmy (The Wonder Pets), Grammy (The Book of Mormon), Oscar, and Tony (Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon).
Jose Antonio Vargas: Last and most certainly not least, Jose Antonio Vargas is a triple threat. He’s a journalist, a filmmaker, and an activist—all of which has made him a prominent figure in media. As a journalist, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting in 2008 with his coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting. This eventually led him to write for more publications including the New York Times Magazine where he “came out” as an undocumented resident. This not only served as a platform for him to become an advocate for immigration reform in the United States, but it also served as a bridge to Documented, a compelling autobiographical documentary he wrote, produced and directed.