tv shows

‘Blue’s Clues’ host Josh dela Cruz on Filipino identity, representation

Bea Cupin
We talk to the 'Blue's Clues' host about featuring Filipino culture on the show

It’s been over two years since Joshua dela Cruz was announced as the host of the 2019 reboot of the iconic children’s show Blue’s Clues. And yet for Josh, who premiered as host in 2019, every day on set is a “pinch me” moment.

“I remember drawing a paper cup and then on set, 20 some odd years later, the first clue that I’m drawing is a cup. That’s wild to me, because I never saw that for myself,” Josh, who studied theater and dance, said in an interview with Rappler.

“I never saw myself on television. Growing up, we were the foreigner, the villain, the joke. To be in this capacity…these are things I feel so lucky that I get to share that with kids – that you can be comfortable with your feelings, you can ask for help,” the Filipino-American actor added.

In Blue’s Clues & You, Josh goes on an adventure with young viewers to figure out a mystery through clues that Blue, a puppy, leaves around for them to find. In the course of the episode, kids learn a handful of new things – from math and logic to color. But in one of the reboot’s more historic episodes, Josh bakes bibingka (a Filipino baked rice cake) and introduces viewers to his lola (grandmother in Filipino).

“The fact that now we’re working lola now into the English lexicon…and now kids know that lola means grandma. We get to share that, and be proud, and share our culture. It’s such an amazing thing because I didn’t see that growing up,” he said.

The episode, which aired in the US in 2020, is set to premiere in the Philippines on Nickelodeon on May 14.

Sharing his own Filipino heritage on the show and on Nickelodeon is only part of a bigger journey for Josh – to explore his roots even further and to find his voice in the Asian-American community.

While racism has always been an issue in the US, things came to a head in 2020. Incidents of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders or AAPI have surged since the start of the pandemic.

“It falls on your responsibility to have a point of view, to learn why this is important, why is this not just something that happened in 2020, why is this something that has been happening,” said the actor, who’s lent his voice several times to advocate against and raise awareness of AAPI hate.

For Josh, bagging the plum role as Blue’s buddy sends a message to young children who might look like him. Representation, he said, “means anything is possible.”

“I never saw television for myself because I never saw myself. Now, we have an Asian renaissance…not as a foreigner but as someone who is proud and unapologetic about who they are. I hope for kids at home, that anything is possible as well,” he said.

Bookmark this page to catch the full interview on Sunday, May 9, at 8 pm Manila time, or follow Rappler on social media for the livestream. – Rappler.com

“Blue’s Big Baking Show” premieres in the Philippines on May 14, at 9 am on Nickelodeon.

Bea Cupin

Bea is a journalist.