Rachel Alejandro on Hollywood challenges: We’re still stereotyped

Rachel Alejandro on Hollywood challenges: We’re still stereotyped

/ 12:20 AM April 23, 2024

Rachel Alejandro on Hollywood challenges: We’re still stereotyped | Rachel (left) with dad Hajji —MARINEL CRUZ

Rachel (left) with dad Hajji —MARINEL CRUZ

New York-based singer-actress Rachel Alejandro said she turned down an offer to be part of the romantic-comedy series “Can’t Buy Me Love” in order to carve out time in the United States “for opportunities that may come my way as a newbie actor.”

“Shooting for a teleserye takes several months. I can’t keep going back and forth. Doing the series would have been nice, especially since I enjoyed my experience doing ‘A Broken Marriage Vow.’ It helped me with bookings because a lot of Filipinos in the US watch TFC (The Filipino Channel),” Rachel told Inquirer Entertainment in a recent interview.


She has been in Manila for almost a month now for some performances, including one with her dad, Hajji Alejandro, titled “Awit ng Panahon: Noon at Ngayon” on April 21 at the New Frontier Theater in Cubao, Quezon City.


Rachel’s decision to relocate to New York was partly because her husband, Spanish journalist Carlos Santamaria, works there. “When the pandemic hit, I found myself in NY because we couldn’t travel and there was no work for singers anywhere. I was there for 10 months straight. I eventually got to like it there. After the pandemic, all the opportunities that came my way were in the US, except that one from ABS-CBN,” she explained. “That’s the tradeoff. Sometimes, I’d have shows that are booked nine months in advance. I also couldn’t find the time to stay in Manila for a long period.”

READ: Rachel Alejandro secures interview appointment for her US citizenship

Rachel’s monthlong stay in Manila was for three live-show appearances, “and a few other small appearances bunched together.” “I want to focus my attention on auditions, particularly for pilot TV shows in Hollywood with productions that got stalled because of the recent strike. I really want to give it a try, especially now that we still have this window. Bago magsara ang karinderya. Hangga’t may asim pa,” she said laughing.


When asked what it was like in Hollywood for her so far, Rachel said: “It’s very challenging at this age also, and starting from scratch in the US. While there are now more roles for Asians in America, the requirements are very specific. For example, they’d be looking for an Asian actor, but someone who speaks Japanese or Chinese. In other words, maybe we’d never be really cast in just necessarily an Asian role. What we have to look for is a Filipino role.

“We’re not complaining, I’m grateful that at least there’s still representation for Filipinos in Hollywood. Sadly, the roles, up to this day, are still very stereotyped to play certain kinds of roles. It’s always as a domestic helper—not that there’s anything wrong with that. We’ve had fantastic performances, but I’m just confused that with all the nurses in the US and all the medical drama shows being produced, why is no Filipino actor in the cast? They haven’t thought of this? That’s strange,” she pointed out.

Starting slow

Rachel said work “has been kind of slow moving. In fact, because I’m already a SAG (Screen Actors’ Guild) member, there are a lot of projects I cannot do anymore because they’re non-union. So far, I’m lucky that I’ve done a few commercials, more on print ads, because aside from the acting, there’s also modeling.”



The effect of the Writers Guild of America strike was felt way up to December 2023, said Rachel. “A lot of people lost their work, not only writers, but pretty much everyone in the industry. In fact, I did what they call an ‘industrial.’ It’s a video for a company on cybersecurity. The people I worked with in the shoot said it was good that we had those kinds of corporate gigs. That became the bread and butter of a lot of production people.”

Rachel also did a short film a few months ago. “And, again, I played a servant in a mansion. I worked with another Pinoy actor. He played the butler,” she recalled. “Everything is starting slow. All of a sudden, because the strike has ended, they are now shooting the TV shows meant for last year. Hopefully, later this year, there will be more opportunities for a newbie actor like me.”

What is actually doing great right now is the Philippine concert scene in the United States, reported Rachel. “The actor I did the short film with is actually a dance captain on Broadway. Filipinos are now thriving on Broadway because that’s our forte. We’re fantastic live performers,” she pointed out.

“So far, I’ve not auditioned for anything on that. What happened was that I’ve become part of one concert after another. There’s a show practically every week—we had Gary Valenciano, then Piolo Pascual—some even in the same cities. Sometimes, happening all at the same time. I was lucky in that aspect. I’m in that kind of scene right now.”

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“Awit ng Panahon: Noon at Ngayon” will also feature Gino Padilla, Kris Lawrence, Nitoy Mallilin (formerly of The Boyfriends), Edwin Cando (seven-time “Tawag ng Tanghalan” winner) and John Raymundo (eight-time defending champion of “Tawag ng Tanghalan”), Male Rigor (of VST and Company), Pete Gatela and Carlos Parsons (of Hagibis), Arabelle dela Cruz, Rachel Gabreza and Luzviminda Piedad (of TNT), and Geoff Taylor (of “Pinoy Dream Academy”). The show, directed by Ferdi Aguas, is produced by Pro-Entertainment Production, Avolution and Mallillins Music Production. INQ

TAGS: Hollywood, Rachel Alejandro

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