DALY CITY -- Seattle comedian Jo Koy spoke out Friday about the importance of Filipino representation in movies as he was awarded the key to his character's hometown ahead of the release of his new movie set in Daly City.
"I am going to put this on my keychain," said comedian Jo Koy receiving the keys to the city of Daly City for setting his new movie "Easter Sunday" there and for putting an almost entirely Filipino-American cast on the big screen.
"When my mom came to this country there was absolutely no representation. There was no Google, there was no Facebook, there was no Instagram - she had to find her community," he said.
Standing next to Jo on the Daly City council dais was councilwoman Juslyn Manalo She was the first Filipina-American mayor of Daly City. "For so long, I never saw a complete set of Filipino American actors on TV. I'm ecstatic," she said.
"Easter Sunday" is an experience of representation she and other Filipinos didn't have growing up - even in Daly City where 37 percent of the population can trace their heritage back to the Philippines. "My three year old son and my one and a half year old daughter can literally go into a movie theatre and see a reflection of themselves, and also a reflection of their grandmother, and their father and their uncle and auntie."
Those experiences that until now were only seen in the homes of Filipino Americans are getting the silver screen treatment. "It hits so many levels intergenerationally - that this moment is huge for not only the young, but it's all the way to the elders," Manalo told KPIX5.
Jo Koy says the movie is not just about Filipinos but all families.
"I wanted to tell the story about my family, but most importantly I wanted to let people know that not only Filipinos can get this. When you leave, you're gonna be like 'That mom is just like my mom, and that kid is just like my kid.'"
Koy later sat down with KPIX 5's Betty Yu at Century 20 Daly City. He grew up in Seattle in the 1980s. He said he first visited Daly City when he performed at the comedy club.
"Daly City is like responsible for letting me know that there's Filipino restaurants, there's a Filipino community, there's things that I didn't see in my childhood that happened here," said Koy. "I was always like, 'Yo, where are all these Filipinos coming from?' And they're like, 'Daly City.' I'm like, 'What?!'"
When asked what the responsibility to showcase his community felt like, Koy replied, "I love it, the whole idea behind that is to be able to tell story without being too specific, right? I didn't want the whole movie to just be, 'Hey, Filipinos do this and Filipinos do that.' I didn't want to do that for the sake of just having laughs. I didn't want people to laugh at us, I wanted people to laugh with us."
He says the film, which Steven Spielberg helped get made, shines a light on Bay Area Filipinos.
Koy worked in a song by Filipino rapper P-Lo. In the film, his cousin Eugene also wears a Warriors jersey. The number belongs to the NBA's first Filipino American player Raymond Townsend.
"I want this door to say open for everybody, I want this to be the blueprint for everybody, let's hear everybody's family story," said Koy.
"Easter Sunday" opens August 5 in theaters.
Betty Yu contributed to this story.
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