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Child actor singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Filipino on ‘Barney’ 3 decades ago has left an indelible impression

Child actor singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in Filipino on ‘Barney’ 3 decades ago has left an indelible impression
via Instagram/intriguedancechicago (left), Twitter/@czaerra (right)

The clip features then 9-year-old Pia Jasmine Hamilton singing “Maligayang Bati,” the Tagalog version of “Happy Birthday to You”

March 23, 2023
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A clip of Filipino actor Pia Jasmine Hamilton singing “Happy Birthday” in Tagalog on classic children’s TV series “Barney & Friends” three decades ago has gone viral after resurfacing on Twitter.  
The clip, which is from an episode that premiered on April 21, 1992, features then 9-year-old Hamilton singing “Maligayang Bati,” the Tagalog version of “Happy Birthday to You.” 
“Every year on my birthday, I watch this clip of a kid on Barney singing Happy Birthday in Tagalog,” a Twitter user shared on Monday along with the clip.
View post on Twitter
In Season 1, Episode 12, titled “Happy Birthday, Barney!,” the children plan a special party for Barney, the supposedly 200-million-year-old purple dinosaur, after finding out that it’s his birthday. 
During the celebration, the characters “Min,” played by Hamilton, and “Tina,” played by Jessica Zucha, explain how birthdays are celebrated in their respective home countries: the Philippines and Mexico. 

Hamilton, who was born in the U.S. and is of Filipino descent, started dancing at the age of 3 before performing in her first professional industrial show at 6. She began acting at the age of 8 and soon landed her role on “Barney & Friends,” where she starred for the first three seasons.
In an interview with NextShark, Hamilton, now 40, shared joy for the viral clip and recalled her experience on the children’s television series. 
pia jasmine hamilton
via Pia Jasmine Hamilton
“I didn’t know that it was going viral! But it brings me so much joy to know that others found happiness in the Filipino representation I was able to bring to the show,” Hamilton said.

I just remember feeling very proud that I was able to sing something from my heritage on the show. I also remember that the music director consulted with my mom to ensure its authenticity. I was so fortunate that “Barney’s” cast was diverse, and more specifically that the “Barney” team wrote my Filipino heritage into my storyline for the show. It definitely made me feel “seen.”

Hamilton, who believes “Barney” was “before its time” in terms of representation, is hopeful that more Asian Americans find roles across TV and film.
Following her time on “Barney & Friends,” Hamilton went on to perform in the Broadway production of “The Lion King.” 
She recently completed an eight-year run in “The Lion King” but has momentarily rejoined the production to help fill in for a few months.
Pia Jasmine Hamilton lion king
Hamilton in “The Lion King.” via Pia Jasmine Hamilton
In 2022, Hamilton also appeared in the documentary “I Love You, You Hate Me” to recount her time on “Barney & Friends.”
Today, Hamilton owns the “Intrigue Dance & Performing Arts Center,” in Chicago, and she lives in New York with her husband and two dogs. Hamilton told NextShark that she is hoping to start acting for TV or film again sometime soon.
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      Michelle De Pacina

      Michelle De Pacina is a New York-based Reporter for NextShark

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