Angry Reader of the Week: Joel de la Fuente

"I wake up in strange, exciting places and try to find where I fit into the telling of a story."

Hello, friends! As you recover from your Thanksgiving celebrations, I give you the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Joel de la Fuente.

Who are you?

I am Joel of the Fountain. Or Joel of the Source. Also known as Joel de la Fuente. Small d, small l, capital F. (You would never know that this is how you spell my name if you saw the mail I get. My favorite is American Express who often sends me correspondence as "L De.")

Legally, I am Jose de la Fuente, but being Filipino, no one has ever called me by that, always Joel. Or Joe.

And then there are the various ways people pronounce Joel: "Jole," "Jo-ell," "Joe-Al."

I've come to answer to most things.

What are you?

I am a father. And a husband. Actor. Dog lover. American.

Where are you?

I am typing this at 7:30am sitting in a trailer in a parking lot somewhere in Atlanta. The clothes I am wearing are not my own.

Where are you from?

I grew up on the North Shore of Chicago. My home was in Evanston, but I went to school in Winnetka. I was born in a small town outside Utica, New York.

What do you do?

Well, on most days, I wake up, empty the dishwasher, draw a little picture for my nine year old, draw a little picture for my fourteen year old, put them in their lunches, which I also make, then walk our three dogs and start the day.

But I'm also an actor, so on other days I wake up in strange, exciting places and try to find where I fit into the telling of a story, then do my best to tell that part of the story.

What are you all about?

I often think that if I were born in exactly the same circumstances but either white or in the Philippines, I very likely would have been a doctor like my parents. (Or a doctor's assistant, if I couldn't improve my chemistry.) My parents served that profession well, I admire them tremendously, I like the idea of helping others. It is in my blood.

But I'm also a creative person and someone who always felt I was in the presence of magic when I stepped into a theater or watched a great film in a darkened room with strangers. And I almost never saw anyone that looked like me in these stories. Those stories spoke to me, they thrilled me, they often were me, but I was never included. I, and those that looked like me, were absent.

I love the craft of acting. I love storytelling. I love the idea of transformation. I love the idea of being able to play a role with honesty and artistry. And to be able to do that for a living makes me feel creatively happy and like the luckiest person in the world. But what makes it feel essential is the idea that, while I'm doing this thing I love, I am also an Asian American Man. It may be a central theme in the story, it may not. It may be a topic of discussion, it may not. But my presence helps accomplish what all good art must: to reflect the world around it -- our awesome, complicated, diverse world. It is very important for a child to see him or herself reflected in our stories. It's not just about "positive" representation. It's about representation so present and varied that we accept ourselves as all things: good and bad, winners and losers, flawed but beautiful humans. I aspire to play flawed but beautiful humans. I want to be one part of a diverse landscape on stage and on camera.

What makes you angry?

I don't like willful ignorance. Or selfishness. Or laziness. Mean people suck.
My big mantra these days is: "Don't blame. Don't judge." I'm all for being angry, but if I am not blaming or judging others, then what do I do with my anger? It's an excellent thing to ponder.


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