Ruby Ruiz on ‘pivotal’ scene with Nicole Kidman in new series

Ruby Ruiz on ‘pivotal’ scene with Nicole Kidman in new HK-set series

/ 12:30 AM January 30, 2024

Ruby Ruiz on ‘pivotal’ scene with Nicole Kidman in new HK-set seriesRuby Ruiz attended the premiere of "Expats" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York--RUBY RUIZ

Ruby Ruiz attended the premiere of “Expats” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York–RUBY RUIZ

When the series “Expats” premiered in New York City recently, its director Lulu Wang chose to screen Episode 5, which she described as the series’ “penultimate episode” because it is the “most complete” and is dedicated to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong.

This was according to Ruby Ruiz, who plays Essie, a nanny to the family of architect-turned-expat’s wife Margaret (played by Nicole Kidman). Ruby walked the red carpet, made the rounds of interviews with the Hollywood press, and attended the premiere held on Jan. 23 at the Museum of Modern Art, no less.


The 96-minute episode talks about the lives of OFWs living in Hong Kong. “They followed our trail during one Sunday,” Ruby said of her character and Puri, played by Amelyn Pardenilla. “They showed what domestic helpers in Hong Kong do during their days off. The episode also showed our relationship with our employers. It’s actually a standalone episode. Even if you fail to watch the whole series, that particular episode is the most complete,” explained Ruby in an interview with Inquirer Entertainment the day after she arrived in Manila.


“Lulu also chose that episode because ‘Expats’ shouldn’t only speak with the voice of the expats, but also of other people involved in their lives, primarily the domestic helpers who serve them. Without the domestic helpers, there will be no expats—we’re talking about their privileges. In Hong Kong—as it is here in the Philippines—they have nannies, helpers and, sometimes, even chauffeurs.”

Reduced responsibilities

Ruby added: “That episode also expounds on the personal conflict of Margaret. It highlights her dilemma as a mother because the moment she stepped into Hong Kong as an expat’s wife, her responsibilities as a mother were also reduced, especially since Essie is so efficient and loving.

Ruiz (extreme right) with "Expats" costars Amelyn Pardenilla (left) Ji-young Yoo, Nicole Kidman, and Sarayu Blue -RUBY RUIZ

Ruiz (extreme right) with “Expats” costars Amelyn Pardenilla (left) Ji-young Yoo, Nicole Kidman, and Sarayu Blue -RUBY RUIZ

“The Filipino nanny cooks for the children, brings them to school, and even puts the youngest to bed. She is really like a surrogate mom. In part, Margaret struggles to find her worth as a mother. She and Essie get into a very emotional scene where Margaret confesses to her nanny how she feels,” Ruby recalled.The six-episode series is currently streaming on Prime Video.

While it was clear that the dedication and sacrifices of OFWs were highlighted in the series, we had to ask Ruby if she thought that the Filipino as an artist was celebrated as well.

She hesitated to answer at first, but eventually relented: “I don’t think the answer should come from me. I’m actually an acting coach myself, so admittedly, there were times when I felt like I should have done better. But based on my observation, after the screening and during the after-party, everybody was congratulating me. They said, ‘You did great, Ruby!’ Lulu herself described me as ‘the heart and soul of the entire series.’ I don’t want to sound too conceited, that’s why I tell those who have interviewed me that we Filipinos still have a long way to go in terms of acting.”

‘More authentic’

Ruby described her scene with Nicole in Episode 5 as “pivotal.” She explained: “This was when the audience at the premiere clapped for me. I remember back when we were shooting it, everyone was so nervous because it was going to determine if they cast the right actor for Essie, which took them ages to find. Modesty aside, I think I did it well. During my actual off-days, I spent time with real-life OFWs in Hong Kong. I had to do this to be more authentic. And so, if your question is whether or not, as an actor, I am able to bring authenticity to my role, then my answer is ‘yes.’”

At the "Expats" after-party, hanging out with costars--RUBY RUIZ

At the “Expats” after-party, hanging out with costars–RUBY RUIZ

Ruby stayed at the posh Crosby Hotel in Soho. Prior to the big event, she attended a three-hour training via Zoom on how to address the media. “We were told of the things we should highlight. In the beginning, I thought, ‘Grabe naman sila!’ But in the end, I was grateful for the workshop because facing the foreign press was really intense. After my 12th interview, I swear to you, I already ran out of English words to say,” she said laughing.

Ruby, who wore a black beaded Paul Cabral gown to the red carpet, also had her own hair stylist and make-up artist. “I picked Liz Olivier to do my make-up, but not after first looking her up on Instagram. I wanted to know if she ever had any Asian clients and discovered that she did Michelle Yeoh’s make-up, too. I had wanted to experience the same powder brush she used on Michelle—maybe her luck will rub off on me, too,” Ruby said, laughing.

Ruiz with Korean actress Ji-young Yoo--RUBY RUIZ

Ruiz with Korean actress Ji-young Yoo–RUBY RUIZ

“Corey Tuttle did my hair. I told him to do something that would match my dress, and so he created a classic Hollywood look for me. I’m glad I picked him, he was super gentle. He pampered me really well,” she recalled. “For my dress, I didn’t want it to be flashy. I wanted to match my look to my role a little bit. I wanted to represent a very simple Filipino actress who can be glammed up.”

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Ruby was undoubtedly beautiful and glamorous that night, as seen in these pictures she sent to Inquirer Entertainment, straight from her own cellphone gallery. INQ

TAGS: Entertainment, Hollywood, Nicole Kidman, Ruby Ruiz

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