In celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander heritage month, we featured women with Filipinx heritage as part of our #FilipinaFriday series. This May we chose the following amazing women to highlight on our Instagram page.
Althea Rae Janairo, more popularly known as Tia Carrere, is an American actress who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Among the many roles she’s played through the years, one of the most notable is lending her voice to give life to Lilo’s big sister and guardian, Nani. She is also known for playing Jade in General Hospital, Cassandra in Wayne’s World, and Juno in True Lies alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. In 2015, Tia Carrere came to the Philippines to shoot a movie in Binondo titled Showdown in Manila. When asked about her time in the country, she said, “It’s been so great. I’ve been...tasting all the food of my childhood that my grandma used to make.” Who doesn’t love Filipino food? Lilo & Stitch is one of our favorite Disney films, and it’s so cool to know that a Filipina was part of it. Hopefully, we can see more authentic representation in Hollywood movies in the future.
Cassie Ventura is a singer, model, and actress. Her father is a Filipino and her mother descends from mixed African-American, Mexican, and West-Indian heritage.
If you’ve heard of the song Is It You and loved it just as much as J does, you’ve probably known Cassie from Step Up 2: The Streets. In the movie she played the role of Sophie, a student in Maryland School of the Arts who is renowned due to her advanced skill in acting, singing, and dancing. Cassie is also a triple threat in real life. Her song Me & U (2006) won the ASCAP Pop Music Awards for Most Performed Song. She also sang The Boys (2012) with Nicki Minaj and Paradise featuring Wiz Khalifa (2013). In her Long Way 2 Go music video, Cassie is seen to showcase her dancing prowess. Cassie also modeled for GQ, Calvin Klein, as well as made an appearance in advertisements for Adidas and Abercrombie & Fitch. In 2016, she starred with a more mature role in Perfect Match as Eva, a woman who wants to try out casual relationships after being only in long-term ones so far. This year, Cassie has an upcoming movie in Netflix entitled Wonderland, an adaptation of the novel by Ace Atkins.
The daughter of two Filipinx immigrants, Liza Lapira was born in Queens, New York. We first saw her stealing scenes while playing Emma Stone’s best friend in one of our favorite romcom movies, Crazy Stupid Love. But she has also appeared in some of the longest-running American TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order, and NCIS. From acting, she has also gotten into producing shorts, both in film and TV. Her producer credits include Dr. Miracles (2006) and The Happiest Person in America (2012). This year, she will be part of the new Netflix show “Unbelievable” which is currently in pre-production.
Liza Lapita continues to bring Filipinx representation in Hollywood, and we're so excited to see what more she does in the future.
Kyla Briana Ross, known as member of The Fierce Five in the field of gymnastics, was born in Hawaii. Her mom descends from German, Puerto Rican, and Filipinx heritage while her dad has mixed African-American and Japanese blood. She started out in her career at the early age of three. In 2008, she won multiple awards at the Junior Olympic national championships being level ten at the young age of 12. She swept awards by representing the US in nationwide and worldwide competitions such as Visa Championships (1st place), Junior Pan American Championships in Brazil (1st place), City of Jesolo Trophy in Italy (2nd place in 2010, 1st place in 2011). By 2012, Kyla was able to compete in the Summer Olympics in London. Her scores on balance beam (15.133) and uneven bars (14.933) had a hand in The Fierce Five earning gold for the US Team. Ross continued to compete in collegiate gymnast events until her retirement in 2016 as she pursued a Bioengineering degree in UCLA.
Not more than a year ago, Kyla Ross and her teammate, Madison Kocian, spoke out on abuse experienced under the care of former USA Team doctor, Larry Nassar. Nassar was convicted as a serial child molester who used his expertise in medicine to intimidate young women into various instances of sexual abuse. Ross said in an interview with Associated Press, “It doesn’t matter how old you are and what happens to you. I’ve come to the point in my life (where) I want to share my story and move on.”
No matter where we are in the world, let's embrace our Filipinx heritage and be proud of our roots!