Second-gen Fil-Canadian gets ready for prime time TV
WATCH: Amanda Joy sings a Spanish lullaby. MARISA ROQUE
TORONTO, Ontario — When asked to recall when she first felt the stirrings of creativity, Amanda Joy, writer, co-creator and star of the TV comedy “Second Jen,” relates that at age four or five she and her cousins would climb on top of a Fisher Price pool table to entertain their parents with plays they made up and tales of make believe, complete with songs.
That auspicious beginning, plus Amanda Joy’s single-minded drive since high school to bring the second-generation Filipino millennial to the world stage, gave birth to “Second Jen.”
“Second Jen” is a situation comedy named after its two main characters both named Jennifer. The Jennifer character that Amanda Joy plays is Filipino Canadian and nicknamed Mo.
The preview episode of “Second Jen” will air in the fall on prime time on CityTV, a major Canadian television network owned by the Rogers Media subsidiary of Rogers Communications.
After that, the first six episodes will be aired at a later date. “In December, the show will start airing TV, so a different, younger audience will be encouraged to share the show with their families and parents,” Amanda Joy says.
At the beginning of the series, Mo’s family moves back to the Philippines and she moves in with her best friend Jennifer, who is Chinese Canadian.
Mo in Toronto communicates via Skype with her family who settles in Bulacan. Their interactions through electronic media tap into that loving family dynamic treasured by second-generation immigrants and overseas workers. Family is very important to the Filipino.
The show’s premise centers not only on the two best friends and their lives, but also on how split-up families carry out long distance relationships through social media such as Facebook and Viber.
“Second Jen” tackles several important firsts second-generation kids face– first move out of the parental home, first apartment, first real job.
“We are influenced by our parents to some degree, even how we approach life as second-generation millennials–all the things that happen to us, our parents shaping us even if they are not with us,” says Amanda Joy. “There’s a rule in screenwriting that you write what you know, so my experiences–with my family, friends, numerous titas and titos, my lola– shape my writing,” she adds.
She believes that the show will touch a lot of people, as the immigrant experience is a shared experience, “We are not living in a homogeneous culture anymore. My high school teacher asked the class–who has parents born here?– and nobody raised their hand. A very different experience from maybe 20 years before, when most parents are Canadian-born,” Amanda Joy says.
“The Filipino demographic is often ignored or misrepresented. I wanted to show that the Filipino experience in Canada is three dimensional, I wanted to have a second-generation Filipino Canadian millennial as a major character, and not just as a sidekick.”
For Amanda Joy, the seed of the idea of a second-generation Filipino as a major character in a network series started all the way back in high school, and the idea became more specific about four years ago. Asked if she has a background in theater, Amanda Joy states that she holds a degree in ideological history, part of a program called Arts and Contemporary Studies at Ryerson University.
“I tackled history and cinema theory, ideology and philosophy; I never formally studied screenwriting. However, I studied film, particularly editing, at Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, under a very good teacher, Mr. Rossi. At the same time, I studied classical music under a brilliant musician, Mr. Hauser, as well as the department head, Mr Huang, who is Chinese but raised in the Philippines.“
Amanda Joy invites viewers to reach out to her to share their stories. “I’d love to hear from first, second, all generations of Filipinos. All stories are worth telling, all experiences are worth sharing,” she adds.
Her Twitter handle is @notamandajoy, she has a facebook page under Amanda Joy, and her website is AmandaJoymedia.com.
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