Out Of This World

Soap Opera Weekly: How did you get your start as an actress?

Joy Bisco: I had done a commercial workshop class which was held here in L.A. Mind you, I’m from San Diego and I was still in high school. I didn’t drive and I would make someone in my family drive me all the way up to L.A., every weekend for three months. Then when I got into the talent showcase part, that was an extra month they had to drive me. They would literally stay in the car. My dad would have his newspaper and he’d just sit in the passenger seat while my sister would read a book, and they waited for three and a half hours while I was in class. I know that it irritated my dad for a while. He always expected his kids to be an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, and he got none of that. But once they found that I was able to take care of myself and buy food on my own with my acting paychecks, they didn’t bother me. It definitely helps to be on PORT CHARLES, where it is a steady paycheck.
Weekly: I’m sure they were happy that you went on to college.

Bisco: Definitely, that was my ploy. I said I was coming up here for school. I graduated from Cal State in Northridge. But it enabled me to be in my element. If you want to be an actress, you have to come to L.A.Weekly: Did you feel it was harder to break into the business being Asian?

Bisco: It’s helped open doors and in some ways it’s shut them. Just because of the ethnicity rule, there’s always the token something. You can never find two Asian actors on a series; you can have the token African-American and the token Asian, and maybe a Latino. It’s rare that you’ll find that mixture of all three. It’s gotten a lot better from when I first started, [but] there’s a lot of room to grow.
Weekly: One of your first major roles was in a film called The Debut (2000) — tell us about that.

Bisco: The Debut is one of the first Filipino-American movies to ever be released in America. It means a lot to me because the storyline tells how I grew up: being born and raised in America yet trying to hold on to the old-school culture. You don’t know how to relate to your parents. Their whole MO is they came to this country to have a better education for their kids, then you tell them you want to draw or act; that flips their world because this is the plan they’ve had for the past 17 years. And that storyline, you don’t have to be a Filipino to relate to it. Also, I’ve never been on a set where there was more than one Filipino and then to be surrounded by people who were like my mom, my aunt, my uncle, it had a taste of home. The people they hired for the parental roles were veteran actors from the Philippines that my parents used to watch back in the day.
Weekly: How do you like working on PORT CHARLES?

Bisco: It’s a great place to be. The cast is definitely a blast. I’m learning every day, and what better medium than a soap opera. I had no idea it was such hard work. This is probably the toughest acting job I’ve had. It’s really technical. With the new schedule that was implemented we film two shows a day, so sometimes you may do 10 shows in a week and you have to memorize all that script. That’s grueling; that’s the biggest challenge for me. I’m getting better, but it’s definitely hard work.

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