Mail time: A Q&A with ‘Blue’s Clues and You’ host Josh Dela Cruz

Mail time: A Q&A with ‘Blue’s Clues and You’ host Josh Dela Cruz

“I always felt like I was watching someone else’s world — a world that I could only ever dream to be a part of.”

If you kept your handy, dandy notebooks, now’s the time to bring ‘em out. Blue’s Clues, everyone’s favorite childhood show, is back for a new season of figuring out clues, a paw print at a time. The reboot’s now called Blue’s Clues and You! and it follows the same formula we all know and love: a daily adventure made up of clues care of our OG pupper friend Blue, but now with amped-up CG animation, new gadgets (the handy dandy notebook now doubles as a smartphone), and yes, a new host.

A quick Twitter search of the name Josh Dela Cruz, and you won’t need to be an expert detective to know why he made the rounds. It’s a recipe for success: an easy on the eye (looks, check) Filipino-American (Pinoy pride and Asian representation, check) guy taking over an iconic TV show (nostalgia, check). Since the Blue’s Clues and You! notebook has an email feature now, we talked to him over email about the show, what it’s like behind the scenes, and the importance of representation on screen. 

 

Congrats on Blue’s Clues & You! We’ve seen some clips — the show looks amazing and everyone’s crazy about you: how did this all happen?

I was in Aladdin on Broadway when I got the audition for Blue’s Clues in 2018. I remember being really excited that the show was coming back — I used to watch Blue’s Clues with my little sister when I was younger.  Talking directly into the camera was such a new experience for me at the time, but I did my best and ended up feeling pretty good about the audition.  Needless to say, about a month went by and I didn’t hear back. Then, I received an email from my agents saying I had a final callback. I hopped on a call to talk over some notes with my agents from the casting director and prepared the sides.  

Fast forward to my screen test in front of the green screen working with the director as producers and creatives sat hidden behind drapes for lighting and sound purposes. The director was really wonderful, gave me notes and then casually said, “Oh, Steve, do you have any notes for Josh?” Suddenly, Steve Burns, the original host emerged from the drapes and caught me completely off guard—I had no idea he was there!  As soon as he opened his mouth, I was at ease. He has an amazing way of making you feel confident and empowered, just like he did on the show. Then, about a month and a half later, I found out I was going to be the host of Blue’s Clues & You! It’s been a dream ever since.

You’ve been working on the show for quite some time now. How has the experience been? Are there any new things you’ve learned about yourself?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have worked with amazingly supportive and caring people throughout my journey as an actor.  Blue’s Clues & You! is no different.  I’m learning so much on set that it feels like a paid scholarship. Not only is everyone so generous with their knowledge and talents, but they are also so fun to work with.  I’m based in New York so it’s important to have a strong and supportive team while I’m filming in Toronto, and I have that in spades.

An amusing thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I sing to myself when I’m really happy — I sing to myself every day.

 

Give us a clue: what should we expect from the all-new Blue’s Clues & You?

Blue’s Clues & You! is going to be a ton of fun!  We’re bringing back beloved characters, we have awesome new songs, and it will be just as interactive and innovative as the original show.  Since this new generation of parents watched Blue’s Clues themselves or with their siblings (like I did) when they were younger, they can rest assured that their kids are watching quality programming and they can also share a piece of their childhood as well.

What’s a normal day for one Josh Dela Cruz? What’s it like on the Blue’s Clues & You! set?

I start my day around 4:30 a.m. when I have my first cup of coffee.  I review the scenes for the day, go to the gym for about an hour, take a shower and report to the studio for hair and makeup with the amazing Kerry Vaughan at 8 a.m. 

Once I get to hair and makeup, I do more scene work with my equally amazing on set assistant, Ashley Kranz— if you’ve ever wondered how I act with animated characters who aren’t actually there, Ashley is the secret weapon.  Among the many hats she wears on set, she is most importantly my scene partner. All the timing and specificity I need to perform come from her. 

By 9 a.m. I’m on set and start filming until about 1 p.m. when we break for lunch. I have a quick bite, take a power nap and sit outside and enjoy another cup of coffee in the sunlight to recharge for the second half of the day.  Then, at 2 p.m. we’re back at it again until the end of our day at 6 p.m. 

Once I get home, I do a quick cardio workout on the elliptical where I catch up on TV shows, texts and emails.  Then, I have dinner, take a shower and do prep work for the next day before drifting off to bed around 9:30 p.m.  

 

“It doesn’t matter if something has never been done or if you’ve never seen yourself represented.  Don’t close the doors to your dreams, because if you work hard, are kind and always keep learning, you could be the one to open that door.”

 

When it was announced that you were the new host, a huge chunk of the response was about representation: a Filipino on a memorable TV show. What can you say about representation? Why is it important?

I had a wild imagination as a kid.  In fact, I loved movies and TV so much my mom used to joke, “You should be an actor,” to which I’d reply, “No Ma, I’m gonna be a lawyer,”…so much for being a lawyer! But, speaking to that point, growing up, the only Asians that were consistently represented on screen were foreigners who were either caricatures based on stereotypes or people that knew martial arts. While I still think martial arts are cool, I never identified with any of it.  

Watching movies or TV shows I always felt like I was watching someone else’s world—a world that I could only ever dream to be a part of.  It wasn’t until I got involved in theatre and learned about Lea Salonga, Lou Diamond Phillips, BD Wong, and countless other trailblazers that I believed I could become a stage actor.  It took me a long time to even articulate why I never really thought about acting on screen. What this show has taught me and what I hope it will inspire others to learn, no matter their gender, ethnicity or social environment, is that it doesn’t matter if something has never been done or if you’ve never seen yourself represented.  Don’t close the doors to your dreams, because if you work hard, are kind and always keep learning, you could be the one to open that door.

What’s the best thing about what you do?

I get to work on a show where the main objective is to help kids learn, and hopefully, make them laugh along the way.  

 

The all-new Blue’s Clues and You! premieres Nov. 11 in the US. Episodes will be available on NickJr.com and the Nick Jr. app.

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