Aina Dumlao

Actor. Filmmaker. Mother of Chihuahuas.

Actor. Filmmaker. Mother of chihuahuas.

First Girl I Loved

I do not have a refined and articulate understanding or appreciation of film a'la the late great film critic Roger Ebert. I was neither born to a family of filmmakers (hello Coppolas!) or went to university for drama or film. My only credential is something I was born with: an innate love for film.

While most kids my age dragged their parents to Little Mermaid (which I thoroughly enjoyed too, by the way), I found myself sneaking out of bed to watch late-night TV showings of epics like Gone With The Wind. I was 8 years old, mind you, waaaay too young to appreciate the complexities of Rhett and Scarlett's relationship or the historic references in the film. Nonetheless, I was in awe of Gone With The Wind and all its 234-minute splendor. Something about the film spoke to me and moved me. And to this day any film that makes me feel, makes me think, or gives me a better understanding of people like and unlike me... is a good film in my book.

Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh

I recently saw 'First Girl I Loved' - an indie film about young love and all its awkwardness, innocence (and soon-after loss of it) - at its L.A. premiere. The deft hand of writer/director Kerem Sanga wove a beautiful, intricate tapestry filled with subtle yet powerful performances by all the actors. 'First Girl I Loved,' most importantly, shone a spotlight on the struggles of LGBTQ youth, especially those who are just coming to terms with their own sexuality and are afraid of not being accepted and understood by their loved ones. The film moved me, and made feel for the LGBTQ community more deeply.

Stills from 'First Girl I Loved' on IMDb.

Stills from 'First Girl I Loved' on IMDb.

If you are a lover of GREAT films like I am, First Girl I Loved is a must see. And if you are someone who is struggling to come to terms with your gender identity, or are afraid of coming out...this film is for you. Its a beautiful reminder that it all starts with YOU loving YOU and accepting yourself irrevocably and completely. Its a reminder that there are many of us around you who will LOVE YOU and ACCEPT YOU for who you for the unique and beautiful person that you are.

First Girl I Loved stars Brianna Hildebrand (aka Deadpool's Negasonic Teenage Warhead) and Dylan Gelula (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Casual). Available on iTunes and Amazon.

Just One Boob

September 24, 2013 will go down in history as the date of my 1st ever theatrical audition. This audition will forever hold a special place in my heart not for being my 'first-ever' but for being THE WORST EVER audition experience, bar none.

The breakdown for the project was stingy on details except for the fact that the team behind it was 'award-winning,' it was of the horror genre, and it was non-paid. Back then, I didn't care. My then-non-existent-alarm-bells failed to go off. I was the Energizer Bunny bouncing off walls with the excitement of being a new actor.

Alas, my excitement was short-lived. Within minutes after I confirmed the audition, came the script with this unexpected information:

Just One Boob

HAPPINESS AND DREAMS DESTROYED. 

Of course, said prostitute HAD to be Filipina. Filipinas could only be mail order wives, maids and prostitutes after all. Oh and said Filipina prostitute's breast HAD to spill out?! Of - effin - course. Well, at least, there was 'no nudity necessary for the first audition'. Yay. It goes without saying, that I politely emailed casting (who was a woman BTW) and declined the audition based on nudity (which I was NOT OKAY with).

A few days after that, said casting woman emailed me with this response:

Just One Boob

I know, I know, I shouldn't have gone anyway. But I was a desperate, none-the-wiser, neophyte actress. I did reiterate with casting that NUDITY MUST BE OFF THE TABLE so that at least made my trip to the audition palatable.

Of course, I spoke too soon. At the audition, after the director gave me multiple re-directs where I had to be 'sexier' and 'more drunk' each time, he went right down to business.

DIRECTOR: You know about the nudity for the role, right?
ME: Yes, and I told casting that I will not do nudity and that you guys knew that.
DIRECTOR: But its just one boob.

The look on his face literally had "But it's just one boob; what's the big deal?" written all over it. I politely stood my ground and left the room, shaking and traumatized.

In all sincerity, hats off to all the women who were confident with their bodies and didn't mind baring their one boob at callbacks. I hope that after three years, none of them regret exposing themselves to a roomful of disrespectful, skeevy men.  But what I hope those women (and really, everyone in the entertainment industry) now realize is that the over-sexualization and disrespect of women is a problem way beyond "just one boob." 

"Just one boob" is the type of thinking that allows Tilda Swinton to play a quintessential Asian character. Or let a new Bruce Lee biopic really be about a white guy.  Or allow 'Mail Order Family' to survive past the Pilot-Pitch-In-The-Trash level. It also justifies the erasure of Asians on screen. It's not "just one role," "just one show," "just one film" or (yes, I'll keep saying it) not "just one boob."

Yes, more women, Asians and People of Color are speaking up about stereotypes and the lack of diversity on all facets of the industry. The voices are indeed louder but its not enough. We have to make more noise...may it be protesting the studios for taking away the few Asian roles available and giving them to (__insert name of white actor here__) or voting with your dollar and not seeing films that feed these stereotypes.  

Stand up for yourself, speak your mind, and always remember....its not "just one boob," people. ITS NOT JUST ONE BOOB.

 

 

Me, My Mom, MacGyver

I was born in the Philippines, raised by a single mother. Her name is Prossy and she's the kindest, bravest woman I know. We didn't have much, but we made do with what we had. And having each other was all we really needed.

As government jobs go, my Mom didn't make much. She needed to make extra money just to afford tuition fees, rent and everything else in between. She earned the money by working overtime and by constantly traveling for her job. And so, I grew up, mostly alone and was left to figure out how this thing called Life worked. For answers and companionship, I turned to books - from Archie comics, to Almanacs and classics like Great Expectations.

But on weekends, when my Mom was home, we found happiness in just sitting together on the couch and watching whatever was on TV. On Sundays, in particular, on one of our 3 channels, we watched reruns of Wheel of Fortune and MacGyver. And while the specifics of the episodes my mom and I watched together are fuzzy (you know, me being a barely-formed human being at that time, and all), what I did get out of those Sundays were:

a) Life-time Wheel of Fortune crazy-mad skills
b) A crush on Richard Dean Anderson 
c) Time with my Mom

Fast forward through years riddled with heartbreaks and joys to the present, where I now live an ocean apart from my Mom. She's back home in the Philippines and I'm in Los Angeles where I'm trying my luck out as an actress. Yes, me, Aina Dumlao. The olive-skinned, button-mushroom nosed, giant-foreheaded little girl who never thought she was beautiful or special is now an ACTOR currently at the mercy of an industry where beauty is the major currency. An industry where I'm constantly told - indirectly and directly - that I'm not pretty enough, young enough or (my favorite) not Asian enough.

Me and my Mom on my 3rd birthday, taken at her office where we celebrated it.

Me and my Mom on my 3rd birthday, taken at her office where we celebrated it.

But through the rejection, the heartache, the near hits and mostly misses... this Friday will mark my 1st episode on the new MacGyver as the recurring character, Andie Lee. I don't know what the future will hold for me in the show but what's important for me is the symbolism Andie Lee carries. To me, she's the fruition of the immense love and support Bru (my partner in crime and life) has had for me from Day 1 in Los Angeles. And most importantly, she (Andie Lee) embodies the sacrifice and love my Mom has always had for me...then and now.

Mom, Andie Lee is for you and I can't wait for you to see her on TV. I love you and I miss you and I can't wait to just sit on the couch with you again, watching the new episodes of Macgyver together.