“Trese” Creators Share Why it’s Important to Cast Actors with Filipino Heritage in the English Dub

Diversity has become a hot topic in show business and we got to see how it applies to us Filipinos in the anime adaptation of the comic Trese. One of the things people talked about was the casting of the English dub of the show, which mostly featured Hollywood celebrities with Filipino heritage.

Shay Mitchell voiced Alexandra Trese and she was joined by Jon Jon Briones, Darren Criss, Manny Jacinto, Dante Basco, Nicole Scherzinger, Lou Diamond Phillips, Steve Blum, and more.

In an intimate interview with Wes Gleason, the casting and voice director; Tanya Yuson, series writer and co-executive producer; and Rudolf Baldonado, Jr., the Filipino language voice artist director, we asked them why it was important to cast Filipino actors in the roles.

According to Gleason, “Authenticity is a huge part of this show, whether it’s in the designs of the train station or the areas around town. I feel like the team did so much work to make it feel authentic, and we only wanted the voice cast to reflect that.”

Indeed it did. We were impressed at how many of the actors smoothly delivered their lines, even if there was still a tinge of American twang. In the documentary Trese After Dark, Mitchell revealed that she had a lot of opportunities to work one-on-one for the role. She added that Yuson was up at 4 AM Filipino time to coach her on diction.

Gleason added, “One of the joys of the record[ing] is that every actor just about would come in and pretty much with gratitude in their heart. They were thanking us for casting them as Filipino because so many of them had had experiences throughout their career, where they were cast [as] something else. So many actors just coming in with these tales, and then to hear them all thanking us for just wanting to be authentic, wanting to play to that background and that heritage that they know and love.”

In selecting the actors who would join the cast of the English dub, the primary consideration was who would fit the role best.

Yuson told us, “As Jay [Oliva, director and showrunner] says, he wants to put together a great representation of Filipinos working in Hollywood for visibility but also were really fantastic actors. Because we were setting it in Manila, we thought of people who would fit the role. Luckily, there’s a wealth of Filipino-American, Filipino-Canadian actors available to do [and] who are willing to do the project.”

Not everyone ended up playing the role they auditioned for, though. For example, Manny Jacinto originally read for a different character. Producers probably thought he was stronger as Maliksi, the tikbalang with a penchant for drag racing he ended up voicing.

Trese is now available for streaming on Netflix at https://www.netflix.com/trese.

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