16 December 2006

seven sticks for darrel gamotin

I don't hear much about our kababayans north of the border, maybe because I don't really have family there (is that even remotely possible?!), but hearing about Ang Pamana (The Inheritance) is a great eye-opener to the accomplishments of the Filipino-Canadian community. Ang Pamana premiered at the 26th Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival and opened in Manila theaters last month. I really want to watch it. I feel like peeing my pants. Okay, enough.

Darrel Gamotin plays Johnny de Jesus-Reyes, a homecoming Filipino who, along with his sister is representing his family for the reading of his deceased grandmother's last will and testament. Darrel was trained at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, performed for numerous Forward Theatre (formerly Candy Factory Theatre) productions and is graduating (congratulations!) from the Second City Conservatory Program. Read about his roots, his views about typecasting, and the San Miguel, Bulacan house which provides the backdrop of this eerie tale.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Quezon City, Philippines. I moved to Queens, NY when i was 4 years old. I moved across the river to Jersey City when i was 8. And I finished growing up in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, Canada after moving here 6 years ago.

Being a Filipino in the performing industry, do you think there have been hindrances along the way because of your ethnicity?
For a lot of people it's a gift and a curse man. But for me it hasn't been a hindrance yet. I have been hella lucky dude. Super lucky. I think. Right from the get go I was fortunate enough to be just looked at as a performer and nothing else. I was never the asian performer.

Right from high school I would be offered the typical "white roles". I was lead in "Grease". I played Oliver in "Oliver" the musical. I played Seymour in "Little Shop of Horrors". I also played Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet" in a local theatre production. I was fortunate enough to be encouraged to play leading roles which I considered the typical white person roles.

And there is thing too. I was the only one who considered them white roles. It took me a while to learn that nobody cared I was a filipino playing these roles. If I start considering myself an ethnic performer that would only put a hindrance on myself.

I'm not delusional either. I know a lot of people see my ethnicity because it's obvious and there. And sooner than I think, I will be pigeon-holed as the "asian dude". But for myself, I can't limit myself to certain roles. I have to let them do that on their own, if they can. Watch out. LOL.

How was it working with the filmmakers, the other actors and the crew?
It was inspiring to work with such talented and driven pinoys. It was like we were all on the same boat. We're all struggling and trying to work no matter how experienced or rich they were.

It was however uncomfortable to be called sir constantly. They knew I was the lead so they automatically thought I was a superstar or something. But I tried to avoid it as much.

On the set, did you experience any kind of paranormal activity?
Not me personally. But the cast and crew had their share of things moving around and weird images in the camera shot. Crazy vibes all over the place though.

As a child, were you ever told stories about Filipino folklore?
The white lady was something that I was always afraid of.

What would say was the best part about making Ang Pamana?
For me it was a crash course in film. It was like taking a year of film in 4 weeks. And not just the acting part. I learned a lot about marketing, film making and all that jazz.

Are you doing anything, as Rex Navarrete would put it, "hella Pinoy" for Christmas or New Year's?
I was going to hit it up in Las Vegas with my grandparents but I ran out of money to go.

Photo credit Ang Pamana

Posted by ilovesecondhandsmoke @ 7:08 AM