"Call Me Adam" once again chats with actor and comedian Alec Mapa. This time around we discuss the revival of his one-man show I Remember Mapa, which recounts Alec's experiences in film, television and performing in the original Broadway cast of M. Butterfly. It is the comic journey of a gay Filipino American actor struggling for work, love and acceptance that examines the role of Asian American actors in American culture. The piece also touches on his humorous and moving recollections of his mother.
I Remember Mapa plays on Saturday, October 11 at Baruch Performing Arts Center in NYC (55 Lexington Street, 25th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue). It is part of Baruch Performing Arts Center's LGBT month celebration. Click here for tickets!
For more on Alec be sure to visit http://www.alecmapa.com and follow him on Twitter
1. On October 11, you are reviving your one-man show I Remember Mapa at Baruch Performing Arts Center as part of their LGBT month. You are performing this show on National Coming Out Day. Does doing the show on this specific day add any special meaning to the show? Absolutely. My show is about finding a place where you belong in a world that appears to have absolutely no place for you. The decision to be completely authentic when everyone else is trying to fit in, is always an empowering one.
2. I Remember Mapa is about your experiences as a Filipino American actor in film, television, and on Broadway in the original cast of M. Butterfly. What excites you about reviving this show? Has it been updated since you last performed it? Obviously I've had to update it. Jokes about Courtney Love and Vh-1 aren't quite evergreen. But the story of my journey from misfit drama nerd to Broadway to Broadcast TV is essentially the same.
3. What makes Baruch College the perfect place to revive this show? What does it offer you that another venue might not? Colleges are such idealistic places. It's easier to do a show about believing in your dreams to a college audience instead of a bunch of bitter old drunks.
4. You were the very first openly gay Asian series regular on CBS' Some of My Best Friends starring Jason Bateman. What did it mean to you at the time to be the first openly gay Asian series regular on network television and what does it mean to you now? How does it feel to be a trailblazer? I didn't feel like a trailblazer at the time, I just needed a job really bad. The Broadway experience had been years behind me and I was so broke. I really needed something wonderful to happen so I wouldn't quit. In retrospect I realize it was kind of a bigger deal than I thought. Network TV didn't employ a lot of people who looked or sounded like me, so it was a big leap forward.
5. You have been a role model for many people who got to see you open doors for those who have come after you. Who do you feel opened the door for you? There weren't really any Gay Asian role models when I was growing up, so I just wanted to emulate the people who made me laugh. Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Paul Lynde, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, and Bette Midler always fascinated me by how much they stood out and how shameless they were. I wanted to be a funny lady. It all kind of worked out.
6. If you were just starting your career out today, do you feel your experience would have been different? I think it would be harder! The audience is now so divided over so many media platforms. It's the difference between trying to find an audience on three channels as opposed to three thousand.
7. I Remember Mapa also touches upon your relationship with your mom. What do you miss most about her? If you could have a conversation with her today, what are the most important things you would want to make sure she knew about your life today? I miss her optimism. My mother always believed in a better future and she always got one. She was my safe place. Moving ahead without her reassuring presence was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'd want her to know most of my dreams came true. I got married, had a kid. I'd want her to know my hair is greying in exactly the same way hers did.
8. Out of all the television shows you've been on either as a guest star, series regular, or recurring role, which ones were your favorite? What made them your favorite? Playing "Suzuki" on Ugly Betty was like winning a prize on a game show. The cast and crew were so much fun. I got to be mean, which is always fun to play. I got to fly to NYC first class twice a month and stay in a fancy hotel and work for two days at a time. While in the city I'd visit with friends and see shows. It was a pretty cushy gig. I'm a work to live sort of person. If a job sends me to a nice location with per diem, color me happy.
9. What do you hope is next for Alec Mapa, both career and personally? I'm visualizing a series regular role on a hit TV show that runs long enough for me to fund my retirement and my son's college tuition. My kid is heading into his teens shortly, so I'm praying he's not a total douche when that happens. As I head into my 50's my therapist said everything resets and you become a very young old person. I'd like to think I may live out the rest of my days as a very young old person. Wise, curious and absolutely ridiculous.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I don't want to fly, because heights give me vertigo and I don't want super hearing because I'd probably get my feelings hurt. I always thought knowing every single language would be a cool super power. I'd also like to give anyone an orgasm just by shaking their hand. How much fun would THAT be?
11. If you could be any original Life Saver, which flavor would you be? What are the ones that make sparks in your mouth? I'd want to be those.
12. How do you want to be remembered? Thin and in my twenties. I was so pretty.
Alec Mapa’s television career has gone from desperate to ugly with recurring roles on ABC’s Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. On Wisteria Lane Alec is known as Gabriel Solis’ personal shopper "Vern." On "Ugly Betty" no gossip report would be complete without the latest from Alec as fashion reporter extraordinaire "Suzuki St. Pierre."
Audiences first discovered Alec on Broadway in the Tony Award winning production of M. Butterfly. He guest starred on over 40 television series, including Alias, Friends, Roseanne, Seinfeld, and NYPD Blue. Alec played network television’s very first gay Asian series regular role on the short-lived CBS sitcom Some Of My Best Friends. He then starred in four seasons of the UPN sitcom Half and Half. Film audiences howled at Alec as N’Cream in the wildly popular drag queen musical Connie and Carla. Other films include Playing By Heart, Marley and Me, and You Don’t Mess with The Zohan. Alec’s stand up comedy specials Wisecrack and No Fats, Femmes, or Asians continue to air on Logo and have gained him a huge cult following.
Alec has entertained live audiences with Rosie O’Donnell aboard her R Family Cruises and all over the world with Atlantis Cruises. Alec was awarded the prestigious Davidson Valentini GLAAD Award for promoting equal rights for the LGBT community. A tireless fundraiser, Alec has toured the country on behalf of The Human Rights Campaign and The Matthew Shepard foundation earning him the unofficial title of "America’s Gaysian Sweetheart."