Monday, May 24, 2021

Nickelodeon South East Asia to Premiere New 'Blue's Clues & You!' Episode 'Blue’s Big Baking Show' on Friday 14th May 2021

Nickelodeon South East Asia will be celebrating International Family Day on Friday 14th May 2021 with the premiere of the brand new Blue's Clues & You! episode  “Blue’s Big Baking Show” at 9:00am (PH)!

In the all new episode, fans will meet Josh’s “lola” as Josh and Blue spend the day making bibingka, a cake from the Philippines that is “masarap” (delicious)!

Blue's Clues & You! is a curriculum-driven interactive series that follows Blue as she invites viewers to join her on a clue-led adventure and solve a puzzle in each episode. The series features Filipino-American theater actor/presenter Josh dela Cruz following in, not just Blue’s paw prints, but also the footsteps of former Blue’s Clues hosts Steve Burns (1996-2002), Donovan Patton (2002-2006) and Kevin Duala (1998-2003, in the United Kingdom), as well as Duarte Gomes in Portugal and HyunShup Shin in Korea!

Josh dela Cruz on being the fresh new face of ‘Blue’s Clues,’ his Filipino roots

It’s something that viewers both young and old don’t need a trail of clues or blue paw prints to figure out.

Indeed, one of the reasons that makes Josh dela Cruz a snug fit for his role as the host of “Blue’s Clues & You,” the latest iteration of Nickelodeon’s hugely popular children’s show “Blue’s Clues” first hosted by Steve Burns (who played Steve, from 1996 to 2002) and Donovan Patton (as Joe, from 2002 to 2006), is the actor’s protean ability to channel a diversity of characters beyond his millennial upbringing.

After all, the 32-year-old performer had cut his thespic teeth playing a variety of characters on Broadway before he bested 3,000 other hopefuls for “Blue’s Clues & You”—from his stint as the understudy of the lead in Disney’s “Aladdin” to his role in Stephen Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along.”

We realized we even saw Josh in the ensemble of the wildly immersive musical about Imelda Marcos when we watched David Byrne’s “Here Lies Love” at the Public Theatre in New York in 2013. How’s that for serendipity?

In “Blue’s Clues & You,” Josh has taken over the seat vacated by his cousins, Steve, now a private eye at the Blue Prints Detective Agency, and his younger brother Joe, who’s now in charge of the Present Store.

But this heart-warming blast of nostalgia isn’t the only thing that excited us about the return of “Blue’s Clues” on TV. As it turns out, Josh has been revealed to be a proud Filipino American, onscreen and off.

In fact, Nickelodeon is commemorating International Family Day in the series’ upcoming “Bibingka” episode—at 9 a.m. on Friday (channel 33 on Cignal; channel 45/105 on SkyCable)—by acknowledging Josh’s Filipino roots and Asian American identity. In the episode, he and his clue-loving female pooch Blue whip up the Pinoy delicacy before his Philippine-based lola (Carolyn Fe) comes for a visit!

So you can imagine how thrilled we were when ViacomCBS agreed to help Inquirer Entertainment arrange this exclusive one-on-one interview with Josh last weekend via Zoom before the episode’s March 14 telecast.

And it couldn’t have started better than seeing a beaming Josh greeting us with “Hello, Kuya (older brother)!”—instantly demonstrating how Pinoy tradition has been heartwarmingly instilled in the value system of this handsome new face in children’s entertainment!

“The opportunity to represent Asians, Filipino Americans and Filipinos around the world is so special to me,” Josh admitted to us. “I feel so honored to be here. I got this audition from my agent, and I was like, ‘This is amazing! The show’s coming back on its 25th anniversary!’ I used to watch this with my little sister!

“I found out in the middle of my auditions that they saw so many people for this. I didn’t hear back from them for a month, so I thought, ‘Oh, it’s over. Let’s just move on.’ Then, my agent sent me an email about a final callback, and they said, ‘Oh, by the way, they had just auditioned over 3,000 people.’ So I got really excited—I was like, ‘OK, looks like I’m doing well!’ But then, I was terrified because I never thought I’d ever become a TV actor!

“I studied theater (he has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Montclair State University). I became a theater actor because I saw people onstage like Lea Salonga and BD Wong, so that’s why I thought, ‘OK, I could be a theater actor.’

“But it didn’t cross my mind that I could be a television actor because I never saw characters who looked like me on TV! It was always caricature—[Asian characters are always portrayed] as a villain or a foreigner. I never quite identified with those.

“So, when I came into this opportunity, I felt so honored. Just looking back at where I came from—my family immigrated to the States when I was 2 years old—and now, this. Suddenly, it’s like, anything is possible!”

The Dubai-born son of homegrown Filipino expats said he has vivid recollections of watching “Blue’s Clues” as a child.

“My little sister was 4 at the time, so that would put me around 7 years old when I watched it with her,” Josh recalled, smiling. “I still remember my Tita’s (aunt’s) pink rug, because she was the only one with cable. So, we’d go over her house, switch the channel to Nickelodeon, and watch ‘Blue’s Clues’ with my cousin Gabby.”

Our Q&A with Josh:

Can you talk about your Filipino roots?
My dad’s name is Roger and my mom’s name is Adelfa. They immigrated from the Philippines to the Middle East. My mom and dad essentially grew up in the Manila area. My mom was a nurse, who just retired this year. She got sponsored to work at a hospital in the Middle East with a bunch of friends.

My dad was working for a company in Germany, but was in the Middle East at the time. Through their mutual friends, they met, of all places, in church (laughs). I was just talking to my mom about this—my parents just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary yesterday!

So, that’s how they met. My older sister and I were born in Dubai. Then, when I was 2, the hospital that my mom recently retired from sponsored us to go to the States, so we lived in Yonkers for the first three to four years of my life before ultimately moving to New Jersey, where my parents bought a house. That’s where I attended high school and college.

You know, my mom grew up in a one-bedroom house with her six other brothers and sisters, and I look back to that with gratitude, because my sisters and I were all able to go to school, coming from so little. Then, I got to be on this show and platform. I’m thankful for the chance to do my parents proud by taking the opportunities that they gave me and running with them.

Have you ever been to Manila?
It’s been so long. I’m 32 now. I was in the Philippines when I was a sophomore in high school, when I was 15, 16—that was the last time I’d ever gone there. We were supposed to go to the Philippines last year, but with everything that happened (with the pandemic), that didn’t end up happening.  

You’ve managed to make the role your own. Did you feel any pressure measuring up to people’s expectations of you hosting “Blue’s Clues,” given that both Steve and Donovan were popular around the world?

I absolutely felt that pressure, because the show is important to me, my little sister, and my friends—that’s where the expectation is coming from. Of course, you don’t want to be the host that was bad (laughs)!

But I will say that after I got the role, Steve and Donovan came up to me when we were on set preparing to film it. They pulled me aside and said, “Josh, we don’t ever want you to feel like you have to replicate anything that we did, the way that we did it. They cast you because we all love what you bring to the role. So we want you to continue to explore that.” Since Day One. I have felt like I belonged, and that I’m able to do that every day on the set.

Steve has directed some episodes. What was that like?
Yeah, he wrote and directed a few episodes. He’s amazing! There’s always that fear of what it’s like being directed by the guy who created the role. But he’s so supportive, and Donovan just recently directed a few episodes, as well. If there’s anyone who knows about what’s necessary for this job, it’s them!

Steve, especially in the beginning, when we were doing a lot of crouching and I was kneeling a lot, he knew how much that hurt because I had knee surgery six years ago. He was always trying to find ways around it.

It’s been an amazing collaborative experience, where we’re always playing on set, so I’m so excited whenever he or Donovan is directing or whenever they’re in the show. Oh my gosh, it’s just magic!

Can you talk about the “Bibingka” episode?
It’s proof that the show or the network is all about inclusion—and we’re just continuing on that path. I’m so honored and proud that they’re not ignoring what I look like.

You know, I wasn’t cast because of my ethnicity—I was cast because I was the best for the role. So, they didn’t have to acknowledge my ethnicity at all. But they’re acknowledging and celebrating it!

It’s so important for me because, when I was growing up, nobody knew what a “lola” was—people thought Lola was just a name. But because of this episode, there’s a sharing of cultures that is bringing us closer together as a people. It’s such a source of pride for myself, my family, and other Filipinos—to know that we’re seen.

Watch the special episode of “Blue’s Clues & You” on Friday (May 14) at 9 a.m. on Nickelodeon (channel 33 on Cignal; channel 45/105 on SkyCable).


It’s Filipino day on ‘Blues Clues and You’

Filipino culture and family traditions take center stage in a special “Blue’s Clues and You” episode, which premieres today at 9 a.m. on Nickelodeon.

Part of the long-running children’s program’s International Family Day celebrations, current host Josh dela Cruz — the Filipino-American featured in last night’s episode of The Manila Times CSI: Celebrity, Style, Inspiration — and everyone’s favorite imaginative puppy Blue will whip up a sweet Filipino treat for a special visitor to their home.

“[The show is] bringing in my ‘lola,’ who’s portrayed by this awesome actress named Carolyn Fe, which is huge, right? We’ve all heard about someone’s grandma or nana but never someone’s lola, and we might be putting [the term of endearment] to the lexicon,” dela Cruz shared in his exclusive interview with Lifestyle and Entertainment editor and CSI host Tessa Mauricio-Arriola.

“We’re sharing so much of our culture and we are so excited for that,” he added.

The special episode will have encores on May 21 and May 28, both at 9 a.m.

For almost 25 years now, “Blue’s Clues” and its latest version “Blue’s Clues and You” have been part of many family’s lives around the world, wherever there little children. The curriculum-driven interactive series follows Blue as she invites viewers to join her and Josh on clue-led adventures and solve puzzles episode after episode.

With each signature paw print, Blue identifies clues in her animated world that propel the story and help kids clue in on literacy skills and build self-esteem.

In the Philippines, the show airs on cable channel Nickelodeon across carriers Sky Cable (Ch 45 for Mega Manila, Ch 105 for other regions), G-Sat (Ch 57), Cignal (33), and Cable Link (Ch 24), among others.


GMA Pinoy TV triumphs at Communicator Awards

NEW YORK  - GMA Network’s flagship international channel GMA Pinoy TV was recognized by the New York-based Communicator Awards 2021 for its initiatives that have exhibited creative excellence for marketing and communications.

GMA Pinoy TV received two Awards of Distinction for its campaign "One in Heart with Pinoys abroad vs. COVID-19” under the Integrated Campaign: Social Responsibility Category as well as its "Becoming Pinoy: Carolyn Fe” episode under the Video-Branded Entertainment (Diversity and Inclusion) Category.

At the onset of the COVID pandemic a year ago, GMA Pinoy TV wanted to assure its key stakeholder – Filipinos all over the world and their families – that it remains one in heart with them no matter the adversity. Whether on-air, online, and through public relations and partnerships, the "One in Heart with Pinoys abroad vs. COVID-19" campaign launched a slew of tactics to spread awareness on the pandemic and honor the selfless contributions of Filipino frontliners all over the world.

The integrated campaign generated on-air and online content such as ‘Stories from the Frontlines,’ ‘Stories of Survival,’ ‘In Memoriam,’ and ‘Tribute to Frontliners’. There were also information drives, advisories, and tribute e-mails, an online fund-raising event to support Filipino nurses, and free entertainment to audiences abroad to help alleviate stress brought about by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the multi-awarded GMA Pinoy TV original series "Becoming Pinoy" gained another recognition for its episode featuring Filipino-Canadian actress Carolyn Fe of "Blue's Clues & You!" Becoming Pinoy profiles successful and influential personalities of Filipino descent where they share their stories of coming to terms with their uniqueness and overcoming hurdles which can be a source of inspiration to other Filipinos of mixed culture and ancestry.

The winning episode is about Carolyn Fe, who defied cultural barriers as she pursued what her heart truly desires. She is a Filipino actress in Canada who landed major roles in different arts - dance, music, theater, and now TV acting. In her early days in the industry, she realized that she had to do something to stand up for diversity when she was compelled to adjust her physical appearance in performances in order to blend in. This prodded Carolyn to establish an employment agency with multi-racial personnel ready to be deployed in different companies just to push diversity and inclusion. She accepted roles on TV and film based on her ethnicity and received numerous acting awards for them.

Carolyn is now fondly called ‘Lola’ as she is seen by the world on Blue’s Clues & You! by Nick Jr. promoting Filipino culture both on TV and on social media.

“It’s only been in the past 10 years that we’re seeing and recognizing more and more Filipinos up front and center. Game changing shows like Nickelodeon’s ‘Blue’s Clues & You!’ and GMA Pinoy TV’s ‘Becoming Pinoy’ make this happen. When I viewed the episodes of Becoming Pinoy, it was clear that the show was a platform for Filipinos to be seen and heard by cultures other than my own. What an honor it is to have been interviewed by the team. A heart-felt congratulations to all at GMA Pinoy TV and the Becoming Pinoy show. Sige na! Tuloy na tayo, marami pa tayong gagawin!,” Carolyn urged her fellow Filipinos.

“We are grateful to the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA) for giving GMA Pinoy TV this welcome recognition at this year’s Communicator Awards. We, at GMA Pinoy TV, share this victory with our Kapuso abroad as their inspiring stories truly serve as our driving force to create meaningful content that would likewise empower Filipinos all over the world as we are indeed #StrongerTogether no matter the adversity,” said GMA Network First Vice President and Head of International Operations Joseph T. Francia.
GMA Pinoy TV joins a stellar roster of agencies from around the world that have been lauded by the Communicator Awards. Some of the notable organizations include Univision, Tencent TIMI Audio Center, Google (for Accenture), Museum of the City of NY, State of Arizona, HCL, NFL, American Bankers Association, PwC, Comcast Advertising, IBM, and HK Trade Development Council.

Widely recognized as one of the largest awards of its kind in the world, the Communicator Awards is the leading international creative awards program honoring creative excellence for communication professionals. It is organized by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, the 27th Annual Communicator Awards received over 5,000 entries from ad agencies, interactive agencies, production firms, in-house creative professionals, graphic designers, design firms, and public relations firms.


Why Josh dela Cruz brings a piece of the Philippines to every victory

Since it premiered in 1996, Nickelodeon's original children's show "Blue's Clues" has successfully transcended generations, borders and even cultures around the world.

Today, almost any child would instantly recognize the adorable animated dog, Blue, and just as much, her human companion, who is vital in making every clue-laden adventure and song-filled episode fun as can be.

Even more amazing these 25 years later, is the fact that a great number of parents immersing their children in the iconic educational show are the very ones who were originally raised on the program and expertly familiar with its characters. And to be sure, the Filipino moms and dads sitting down with their kids to watch TV weekday mornings feel an extra tinge of pride to see that a Filipino-American now appears as Blue's best friend.

Indeed, for the very first time since Steve Burns hosted the Nickelodeon original in the '90s, then passed on the torch to Donnovan Patton in the 2000s, Filipino viewers, young and old - and many other Asians too - get to experience the slightly rebranded program, "Blue's Clues & You," with a lead that looks just like them in the equally talented Josh dela Cruz.

Sitting down in an exclusive online interview with The Manila Times Entertainment and Lifestyle program, "CSI: Celebrity, Style Inspiration," dela Cruz affirmed the pride and honor he feels in representing the Filipino race in a show that is seen around the world. And when he talks about his journey to get there, he consciously and gratefully begins with the sacrifice his parents took to leave their home in the Philippines and work abroad all for the sake of their family.

100 percent Pinoy

Born to purely Filipinos parents - his mom hails from Antipolo while his dad is from Manila - dela Cruz was born in the Middle East where they met and started a family. When he turned two, his parents decided to brave the Land of Opportunity and moved their young family to the United States.

"My mom and my dad came from families that had so little, and [when] they emigrated to the States, they worked really hard, bought a house, sent the three of us to school, and you know that's something that I am always amazed by," dela Cruz shared with The Sunday Times Magazine editor and "The Manila Times CSI" host Tessa Mauricio-Arriola on the program.

But even as his parents made sure he and his siblings had nothing to worry about but do well in school, the young Josh and siblings also dealt with their share of challenges growing up in a foreign land where they needed to build their own identity.

For unlike Asian kids who watch Blue's Clues and see him today, dela Cruz's generation grew up with little to no representation in mainstream media besides the larger communities beyond their own.

"I never saw myself being able to be on television because I didn't see myself reflected there," the now popular Nickelodeon personality recalled.

Over time, when dela Cruz realized his talent for the arts and considered the discipline for a career, he was excited to see the likes of Lea Salonga and several other Filipino actors who followed her lead into the global theater stage.

Only then did he think to himself, "Oh I could be a theatre actor."

"Lou Diamond Phillips never really said he's Filipino and it was only later I realized he is," dela Cruz added with a chuckle.

But the theater was a clear possibility so off he went to Montclair State University where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree under the school's revered theater and dance program.

Still, dela Cruz related, "In school, I was one of the only few Asian people in the [theater] program."

Breathing a sigh of relief, he continued, "[But] when I came to New York, I found an Asian theatre community who was so proud of their individual heritage. [It was only then] that I started to look at my identity and realize, 'Oh I have been denying [myself] of that part, trying to fit in to this world that was not built for me'."

With dela Cruz's realization came the inspiration to audition and land parts in such Off-Broadway productions as "Here Lies Love" and "Merrily We Roll Along." His last project in live theater prior to working on Blue's Clues was Disney's Broadway production of "Aladdin."

Opportunities wide open

Dela Cruz likewise auditioned for the Nickelodeon children's show and was practically floored when he was chosen among a sea of hopefuls that looked more like the previous hosts of Blues Clues.

"That's why I'm just so proud and so happy to be here and to represent," he humbly averred.

For indeed, had he not braved to defy the norm, neither would he have achieved his true potential of leading an iconic program such as "Blues Clues & You." And now, on his third year of hosting the show, dela Cruz all the more understands that he would have missed out on the precious opportunity, every weekday morning on cable, to send the message out to young girls and boys who look like him that they too can achieve their dreams.

A true inspiration for today's youth, it is but fitting to tell Joshua dela Cruz's success story on the cover of The Sunday Times Magazine, first as a way to congratulate the 32-year-old in raising the flag of the Philippines in a beloved classic on worldwide cable television, and more importantly, how in doing so, he keeps propping the doors of opportunity wider and wider for more diversity to flourish in the international arena.

You've been hosting 'Blue's Clues & You' for three years now; can you fill us in on how this awesome job came about?

I was performing in Aladdin on Broadway when I got the email from my agent. "They're remaking Blue's Clues?!" I thought to myself. I remember sitting with my cast mates off stage and we all started singing the "Mail Song." We laughed excitedly remembering all the parts of the show that we had loved. I knew at that moment that this audition was a special one. It's rare to have so much love for a project before going into an audition. I carried that love throughout my preparation and I am so grateful to have been given the chance to sing the "Mail Song" for a new generation. I've never been happier.

What qualities does one need to have to be an effective children's show host?

The most important part of my job is to empower kids and help them find their voice. I do this on the show a number of ways: being playful and imaginative, making mistakes and learning from them, and - this is probably the most important - asking the home viewer for help and meaning it. Really asking for help means that we are actively listening to our friend at home. It means we're helping kids find their power. You can't do this job or any acting job well without being a good listener.

What's it like to have Blue for a pet?

Having Blue for a pet is like living with your best friend. She's always game to help, to play, and be silly. The best part being, there are never any doggy accidents to clean up!

You said in previous interviews that it meant a lot that Nickelodeon chose you to host Blue's Clues, not for the sake of diversity but because of who you are and what can you bring to the table. Can you tell us again why this is so important not just for you but for so many Asians working and living not just in the US but all around the world?

For me, I never saw myself reflected in the media that I saw, that I connected with. It was either foreign or it was a caricature, the butt of the joke, or a villain. And don't get me wrong, I would love to play a villain one day, but I don't want my evilness to come from my ethnicity, especially when that's the only thing that's out there. We're coming into an Asian Renaissance here in the States where we're celebrating and being proud of our heritage and who we are and we're not being afraid to stand up.

Now, to be here in this role, in such a big show that has such a wide reach, I hope that Asian kids and Filipino kids - even if they don't want to be actors, or work in entertainment at all that - if they see themselves on TV, they know that anything is possible.

And even further - even if you're not an Asian kid growing up - that you know just because you're not there, you don't see yourself reflected in whatever field you love, with hard work, kindness and love, there's no reason you can't be that person to open that door for everyone else.

We were very excited when we learned about an episode of Blue's Clues & You where you actually feature Filipino traditions. Whose idea was it to do an episode like this?

It's something that I, again, I'm so proud to be working on this show with this company. While I wasn't cast because of my ethnicity, once I was there, it's like, 'Okay, let's celebrate you in every way.'

And they brought this story of meeting my lola, which is huge! We're introducing lola to the world, we're putting it into the lexicon. Growing up, I knew that grandma and Nana were the same things, but whenever I talked about lola, kids would look at me weird and be like, 'What's that?' Now, we're sharing so much of our culture and I'm just so excited to bring that.

This isn't the first time you made an effort to incorporate or include your Filipino roots into your work. Apparently, when you did Aladdin on Broadway, you dedicated your performances 'para sa mga mahal ko sa buhay.' Is this something you promised yourself you'd do in your career?

Paying tribute to my heritage is something that I will always strive to do. I am here because I stand on a foundation created by Filipinos before me. I hope to one day transition into writing and directing so that I can create opportunities for both Filipino stories and creatives in the world of film/TV.

Would you ever consider working in Philippine entertainment someday? What do you think you'd like to do?

Absolutely! I would love to come to the Philippines and to work. If not to work, just to learn from the people in the industry. I would be so honored to just to be on set, and to ask questions and to be a fly on the wall. Though I'm an actor now, I'll always be an actor and I want to continue acting, but I would love to direct and make TV shows and movies and if that brings me to the Philippines, if I have the opportunity to do all that in the Philippines, I will be there in a heartbeat.

* * *

Josh dela Cruz's special Filipino-themed episode of "Blue's Clues & You," which premiered last May 14, will have an encore on May 28, 9 a.m. on cable's Nickelodeon channel. In the Philippines, Nickelodeon is available on Sky Cable channel 103, G Sat channel 22, and Cignal's channel 77.


Originally published: Tuesday, May 04, 2021.

Original source:

Follow NickALive! on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, via RSS, on Instagram, and/or Facebook for the latest Nickelodeon Preschool, Nick Jr. Asia and Blue's Clues & You! News and Highlights!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have your say by leaving a comment below! NickALive! welcomes friendly and respectful comments. Please familiarize with the blog's Comment Policy before commenting. All new comments are moderated and won't appear straight away.