By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
I grew up in an American town where my high school was 99 percent white,” said Filipino-American “Mixology” actress, Ginger Gonzaga during a recent phone interview. “My dad is Filipino and he has about five brothers who live where we live. So we were kinda the Filipino family of my town.”
Gonzaga’s father hails from
mother is Dutch. The actress-comedienne was born in the United
States, and grew up in . She used to dress up as her
Cebuano grandmother, complete with “wrinkles” drawn on her forehead— and
proudly showed off her impersonation to neighbors. In hindsight, she
said, she didn’t do her grandma justice. But that was indeed an early sign that
she wanted to pursue comedy. Modesto,
Gonzaga performed in
comedy clubs and in US
military bases in South Korea,
sometime after gaining a BA in Political Science and a minor in Chinese.
She eventually appeared in the Seth MacFarlane film “Ted,” had parts in the
shows “In Gayle We Trust” and “Legit,” and guest-voiced a few times in
MacFarlane’s animated series “Family Guy.”
What was it like growing up as a half-Filipino? Do you know the customs?
It was great growing up … it made me feel really special and it was a very big part for me. Even when I was getting into college, that’s what my essay was about, being Filipino and being mixed. With the customs, I don’t know if I know everything but I definitely know how to make a lot of the food. I know how to roll the lumpia and all that. It’s funny, the last time I went to the
you know when you take someone’s hand and put it on your forehead? I forgot
what that was called but when I did that to one of my relatives, they all
thought that I was so old-fashioned. I was so embarrassed because I was trying
to be respectful. We laughed and I was like, “We’re not doing this anymore!”
But yeah, I’ve been to the
twice and hopefully I would be able to go again. When my family goes, they go
for about a month. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of cousins … we have a lot of
big celebrations. It was fun. And I know how to karaoke!
Who are your comedic and acting influences, and which of their works are favorites?
I love Sacha Baron Cohen and I love “Borat.” I’ve never tried doing what he did in “Borat” but he’s definitely someone I love. Gene Wilder in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” And [the late] Philip Seymour Hoffman—I really love “The Master.” And I love Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine.”
What makes “Mixology” different and to whom will it appeal to?
It takes place in one night. In this show, the pacing is really fast and it has to focus on different characters every episode. It’s very fresh and new, fun for us as actors, and I think also for the audience. But as far as the audience goes, you don’t have to be in our age group to love this show.
It really is just anyone who has had trouble or who have tried or have experience in trying to find a date, or love. It’s so funny to me, the way that people become whenever they’re approaching people at bars or when they’re trying to hook up with someone. Everyone embarrasses themselves … and I think everyone can relate to that.
How would you describe Maya, your lawyer character?
She’s definitely edgy throughout the show but she softens up a little bit and it’s very unique to see what makes her do that, which is what I love about the progression of her character. I think she’s really well-rounded because she’s fierce but she still has humanity to her because she’s lonely.
How authentic are the dating situations in the show?What’s funny about the show is that we heighten everything that happens in real life. However, even when watching it, and I see some of the really outrageous things that happen in our show, it’s almost true to real life … it actually becomes funnier because even characters that are super-weird or those behaving totally inappropriately, as much as it seems over-the-top, I have seen it in person! Some [parts] are definitely blown out of proportion but some of the craziest things are actually grounded on way too much truth! (Laughs.)