H’wood’s busiest Fil-Am
LOS ANGELES – Only one thing is predictable about the Golden Globe Awards. At one point in the evening, we would surely bump into Christian Moralde, a Filipino-American who has hosted TV shows and works in various capacities at virtually all the major awards shows in Hollywood.
Our once-a-year encounter with the affable Christian, who also did acting gigs and workshops, has become a source of amusement for us. But lately, we’ve been bumping into him more often. We attended his recent 40th birthday party which, typical of his generous self, he turned into a fundraising benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA). Held at the Los Angeles Center Studios (where “Mad Men” is shot), the “2012 Black and Gold Gala” featured a silent auction and a show starring some of Christian’s friends.
Onstage, between numbers, the talents gave moving tributes to him. Tony Award winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia (“Rent’s” original Angel) recalled Christian’s generosity and kindness to him when he was affected by the writers’ strike a few years ago. “Glee’s” Dot-Marie Jones affectionately teased Christian as “the brother I didn’t want to have.”
Two-time Playboy magazine cover girl and former WWE star Chyna and actress Lisa Ann Walter (“Shall We Dance,” “The Parent Trap”) were among those who also saluted Christian. Kaya Jones, who was with The Pussycat Dolls, opened the show in a sexy white gown.
Frenchie Davis of “The Voice” and “American Idol” brought the house down with “Home” and “I Am Changing.” Other guests included Spirit Award nominee Misty Upham (“Frozen River”), the cast of “The Real World” and Christopher Showerman (“George of the Jungle”).
Below are excerpts of our chat with Christian, whose folks are from Quezon City and Bicol.
You are blessed to have such an eclectic group of friends, from Chyna, Frenchie Davis, Wilson Jermaine Heredia to Dot-Marie Jones. How did you get them all together in one place for a worthy cause?
BC/EFA is close to their hearts. The struggle wasn’t to bring together people who wanted to be part of the event; it was scheduling! I was serious when I referred to my event as the “Black and Blue Gala.” There were so many modifications and adjustments, including rescheduling four times.
Since BC/EFA is based in New York City and the theme of the evening was bringing Broadway to Hollywood, several guests and performers were in New York or onstage out of town. In the end, I felt very blessed with my dear friends who made it and shared their talents on such a special night. I consider them family.
How did you get involved with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS?
I’ve always been a big advocate of AIDS awareness. In college, I helped initiate a program called ETP (Education Through Performance) which educated the student body of Arizona State University about HIV and AIDS prevention. I then came to know BC/EFA through their strong presence in the New York theater community and wanted to create an opportunity to bring their message to the West Coast.
Your remarks after blowing the candles on your cake reflected why turning 40 was very significant for you.
Having a long memory and growing up without any friends may not seem like a good mix, but it is. As a result, I do not take for granted any of the friends that I have today. At 40, I am proud to have a truckload of friends. But, I still remember the days when there was no one.
That night, you mentioned how tough it was when you moved to LA. How difficult did it get?
Los Angeles is a tough place. Someone initially moving here is faced with the need to “belong.” Artists need to “belong” to an agency. We need to “belong” to a union. Unfortunately, belonging was hard. There was a multitude of rejection. It was never easy to repeatedly experience it.
How much did having a Filipino family for support sustain you?
My parents come from the frame of mind that Filipinos help their children, regardless if they are over 18 and have moved out. My early years in Hollywood met with some embarrassing circumstances of having my parents help me with money. My mentor, Charles St. Clair, who directed the 2012 Black and Gold Gala, always reminded me that it was OK to accept money from my parents, as long as I didn’t pimp them out.
You work virtually in all the awards shows. Can you describe what you do?
I have many different functions based on the awards show. At the Golden Globes, I’m a talent liaison. At the Independent Spirit Awards, I’m a green-room coordinator. At the Emmys, I cover the red carpet. At the Tony Awards, I’m a seat-filler coordinator. At the Oscars, I work with the seating department.
Working in awards shows is not a full-time job. Each awards show job is the epitome of the word “freelance.” Depending on who the production company is, and who the crew members are and what is needed, I get plugged in. It’s pretty fun to have a variety of functions from show to show.
What other awards shows have you worked in?
That’d be a really long list because there’s an awards show for everything: action sports (ESPN Action Awards), nostalgic television (TV Land Awards), music videos (Video Music Awards), gay community (GLAAD Media Awards), substance abuse awareness (Prism Awards), animals (Actors and Others for Animals), porn (AVN Awards), horror film (Spike’s Scream Awards), AIDS Awareness (Ribbon of Hope Awards), Latin entertainers (Alma Awards), independent film (Spirit Awards), and so on.
After working at major award shows for years, do you still get excited?
I still get excited! The great thing about entertainment is that it is always evolving. There is always a new movie or TV show with artists who don’t have an extensive body of work to their name. I was thrilled to meet the cast of “Slumdog Millionaire” at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards.
There’s a different energy and vibe at each of these shows. Can you describe how the Golden Globes is different from, say, the Oscars?
Combined with table seating and being so early on in the awards season, the Golden Globes is like a reunion, with more of a party atmosphere. People seem to have fun socializing during commercial breaks. Artists catch up with other artists and the energy is a lot less tense compared to the Oscars.
What do you consider are the three standout experiences in your gigs as a TV host and correspondent?
Being flown by NBC to report from London.
Interviewing Adrien Brody two weeks before he won the Oscar for “The Pianist.” Being requested to attend a meeting with E! Entertainment.
What was it like to be in a robe and being with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion?
I’ve been to the mansion a couple of times. The great thing about that place is that it has so much history. Every prominent member of the Hollywood community has been there at some point in time. It is great to be a part of that past.
Being with Chyna, who appeared on Playboy twice—did you get extra perks or privileges?
Chyna and Mr. Hefner have a special, long-standing relationship. She really reveres him and the feeling is mutual. I love just sitting back and watching them interact with mutual respect.
Many Filipino-American actors get mistaken for Alec Mapa. What is your favorite mistaken-for-Alec-Mapa story?
Although it has happened, there isn’t much of a story there. I will say though that Alec’s solo performances have really influenced my solo performance, “Don’t Call Me Walter!” about growing up in a Filipino household.
Reading your “Annuals” on your website is a trip. From attending a Porn Awards show for the first time to watching top female performers undress backstage at the Tony Awards—can you pare down the list to some of the most amusing?
2011: Having the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl chat (on the phone) with a friend in Oregon—her dream come true.
2010: Began a personal collection of authentic movie and television show memorabilia.
2007: Coming to the rescue of legendary actress Celeste Holm by tapping Patrick Wilson on the shoulder, asking him if she could borrow his limo to go to an after-party.
2003: Had a phone conversation with Audrey Hepburn’s son, Sean, about his interest in my Audrey Hepburn collection for his touring exhibition.
2001: Attended a Drag Queen pageant with Debbie Reynolds and Elvira as judges.
2000: Attended a private party for Valentino with Naomi Campbell strutting the intimate catwalk.
E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.