In the interview, the 31-year-old actor star of Glee and American Crime Story explained that it would “be unfair”, likening it to “reaching for the minority card on a college application.”
“My mom’s Asian American,” Criss was quoted as saying. “She’s from the Philippines and came here and then married a white guy, and here I am.”
He went on to say that being half-Filipino has not played a part in his previous casting experience.
“I always say one of my favorite things about myself is that I’m half-Filipino but I don’t look like it,” he said.
The actor then noted: “I just look like a Caucasian guy, which is nice. I’ve got the multi-ethnic thing going on. People think I’m like Italian or Mediterranean.”
On the subject of Asian American representation in media, he seemed to further stress how grateful he was for looking Caucasian:
“Somebody was talking about Asian-American representation, and he’s like, ‘I don’t see a lot of stuff for Filipinos specifically,’ and I went, ‘I guess not, but I guess I don’t think about it.’ I have the luxury of being half-white and looking more Caucasian, so it doesn’t weigh on my conscience as much, like, ‘Ugh, why aren’t there more roles?’ I think as an actor, you just study and you wanna bring your ‘A’ game all the time and hopefully it doesn’t even matter.”
However, shortly after the interview’s publication, Criss tweeted a clarification on some of the points he made:
“Just to clarify- 1 of my favorite things about myself is that I’m half Filipino. PERIOD. I happen to not look like it, but THAT fact is not what I like. I like the fact that most people don’t know it’s an ace up my sleeve, an ace I’m very proud of, regardless of what I look like.”
Still, his statements sparked some backlash among netizens, with many Twitter users calling him out on his apparent indifference to his heritage.
Others, however, took the actor’s side for having his statements misinterpreted:
Criss, who was born and raised in San Francisco to an American father and a Filipina mother, made his television debut in 2009 via a five-episode arc as Josh Burton on ABC’s fantasy show “Eastwick.” His most recent television work was the role of Filipino American serial killer Andrew Cunanan on the second season of television series “American Crime Story.”
Feature image via Instagram/darrencriss