Check out the winners of the 2023-24 Cre8sian Project Scholarships!


Your Cart is Empty

July 15, 2023 8 min read


Joan Almedilla is an actress based in NYC. After competing on Amateur Nights at The Apollo, an executive producer scouted her and brought her aboard her first professional contract. Now, Almedilla’s starred on Broadway as Kim in Miss Saigon, Lady Thiang on the first National Tour of The King and I, and the first Asian Fantine on the Les Mis National Tour, and co-starred in Peacock’s Bupkis, Netflix’s Griselda, Hulu’s Pam & Tommy, and FX’s Mayans, However, her favorite role to date is that of mother to her son, CJ (who also performed with her on The King and I tour for two years in America and Canada)! Offstage, she’s a huge supporter of Honolulu Broadway Babies (organized by her friend Kristian Lei), “whose mission is to provide continuing education to individuals with disabilities after high school through the arts. Almedilla’s advice to young artists? “Understand yourself first before you try to understand other people… work more, talk less.” Read on to learn more about Joan Almedilla and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts! 

Name:   Joan Almedilla

Heritage:   Filipino

Hometown:   Cebu City, the Philippines

Current City:   New York (bicoastal)

Current project:   Closed The King And I (La Mirada Theatre in CA) Co-starred in Bupkis now streaming on Peacock. Just finished a reading of Yoko’s husband’s killer’s Japanese Wife, Gloria. Recently filmed a couple of things right before the WGA Strike started. (Stay tuned!)

What are some of your favorite credits/projects:

Gosh, I love them all! I learned some lessons from every character I portrayed. However, I’d like to say 2 projects have been extra special and it has to do with family. I’ll start with It’s Only Life (Rubicon Theatre Company) because I was pregnant with my son. Backstage I looked like I was eating for seven. Onstage, I was glowing, for sure. Haha! Years later, I had the opportunity to work with my son, CJ Uy, on the first national tour of The King And I. We toured the U.S. and Canada for two years together. 

Any advice for young people getting into the arts?

Understand yourself first before you try to understand other people. I mean that spiritually, mentally and emotionally. In acting, your emotional tools, your ability to listen to others, your training…these things are helpful. Know what makes you mad and irritated, what makes you inspired and happy, then apply the Golden Rule. Find a mentor that you can trust, that you can cry to and is non-judgmental however many times you fall and celebrate with you on your triumphs. Work more, talk less. 

How did you get your start?

I had auditioned for Miss Saigon and didn’t book it the first time. Then I competed on Amateur Nights at The Apollo (think before there was American Idol) and the executive producer for Les Miserables saw me on TV and tracked me down for a month. He asked me to audition for Les Miserables and it also happened that they were looking for a replacement for the next lead role in Miss Saigon (same producers). And I did. The rest as they say is history.

As Kim in Miss Saigon

Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?

Definitely sharing the stage with my son, CJ! 

What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?

I used to think it was rejection. But now that I’m older and learning to practice surrendering and letting go of things I can’t control, rejection has become more of an open door to many breakthroughs. As an AAPI, I’ve been fortunate to play roles that weren’t usually played by Asian characters (Fantine In Les Miserables, Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Florence in Chess, Donna in Mamma Mia) I’m pretty sure there was also discrimination in the process but if you know me personally, I don’t (never did) waste my time giving my power over to people who would do such a thing. It’s the Filipino resiliency, I guess. Learned it from my feisty Titas (meaning Aunties).

As Fantine in Les Miserables

What are some interesting facts about yourself? 

I’m a homeschool mom of 10 years. I have a son who is an actor who voices Hattie in Disney Junior’s Alice’s Wonderland Bakery. I’m married to a Filipino-Chinese-American filmmaker. I’m bicoastal (LA and NY) I was born and raised in the Philippines. I moved to New York when I was nineteen. 

Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?

Honolulu Broadway Babies spearheaded by my amazing friend, Kristian Lei, whose mission is to provide continuing education to individuals with disabilities after high school through the arts. 

Who do you admire?

My parents. I admire their courage and faith. They pray a lot and I’ve witnessed most of their prayers answered. 

Do you have any mentors?

Mom, dad and husband. Also acting and voice coaches!

Did you always want to be in the arts or did you have another path before you got here?

Right after Miss Saigon I went back to school. I majored in Economics. I did not get to finish because I ended up booking another musical theatre job. I thought maybe it made more sense to take the job, pay off my school loan and all my debt. I can always go back to school. I just need a few more semesters.

When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?

When I booked Miss Saigon! I didn’t really fully understand the business yet. The one thing I’m proud of is I’m not shy at asking questions. The common advice I received was to constantly take classes (voice, acting and dance.) Also, be in touch with a lawyer-friend for when you book a job and you have to deal with contracts, you may need help with understanding what you’re getting into. There are days when I do well and some days I get frustrated depending on the materials I’m dealing with. But overall, I love it!

Is where you are now where you thought you’d be?

Not sure if I can directly answer this question but, I have to say, I’m grateful for where I’m at right now in terms of my career. Mentally and emotionally, patience keeps reminding me to embrace the present moment. There is also peace that teaches me to stay strong in times of rejection and disappointments. I also love that my family in the arts keep growing. 

Did you have any interesting “odd jobs” you worked at between gigs to pay the bills?

During the pandemic, I studied medical coding which is not the same as medical billing. It’s a fascinating business. It’s another topic or can someone please do a TV series about it! I’m available!

Do you have any side projects you’d like to highlight?

Can’t share just yet – but stay tuned.

If you come from parents who aren’t in the arts, what parts of them do you see in yourself that have helped you succeed in the business?

Before my parents retired from their jobs, my dad had his own private practice as an accountant and my mom worked as a medical technologist. In terms of breaking down character or learning lines, I got my dad’s analytical side. As for my mom, it's health and wellness. Until now she still asks me how my bloodwork is, what the results are, so I try to take care of myself as much as possible. Have healthy balance.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you. Don’t be afraid to live outside the box! Your real friends are waiting for you there!

What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?

The partnership between analytical and creative! When I’m too critical, my creative brain screams, “So what! It’s a beautiful mess!!!”

Where did you study at?

I was an Economics major at Hofstra University. I studied acting at Michael Howard Studios, privately with Allen Savage, then Caryn West and lately Heidi Marshall.  As for voice Neil Semer, Erica Jones, and I are going to start taking lessons with my friend, Randy Guiaya. 

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Raising a son who is coming onto his own.

What do you love most about what you do? 

Discovering more about myself as I explore characters in new works. 

What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?

Like auditions, I just do the work and forget about it after. Not over analyzing the situation- the struggle is real on this one! Always learning from past mistakes and moving on. I know, easier said than done. 

How do you deal with performance anxiety?

Prayer and preparation- physical, mental and emotional. I normally get nervous regardless of how prepared I am but when I’m (overly) prepared, I get nervous AND excited. 

Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane? What was your self care routine before the pandemic and how has that (as well as your views of self care) changed throughout the pandemic?

This is pre and post pandemic. I do this thing where I allow myself to think of nothing for about 10-15 minutes the moment I wake up. After that I pray – A LOT! Then I walk with my boys or by myself. I like taking walks. Those things must happen in that order or else this mama is not pleasing to be around (half-kidding!).

Since so many of us spent a lot of time isolated during the pandemic, how has that experience specifically changed your creative or preparation process or your outlook on life?

If hugging was a profession, I’d put in a lot of requests for overtime. I love to hug. I’m not an energy guru (if there’s such a thing) but I can sometimes feel what someone’s going through through hugs. That was something I really missed during the pandemic. On the other hand, I also enjoyed spending time with my family. This is the best part – my husband developed a deep passion for cooking (preparing gourmet dishes) and baking- he makes a really good bread pudding! So I was really pleased about that. Food makes me happy! I also became a mom to five Guinea Pigs and a bearded dragon, our therapy pets. When the lockdown started, I found myself in a lot of Zoom – conferences, parties, readings of friends’ scripts and fundraising events. Then things slowed down because of the holidays. New Year (2021) came and I started feeling comfortable not doing anything to feeling unmotivated. That Spring, a friend of mine reached out just to reconnect and somehow we ended up challenging each other and planned our first (virtual) 10K. We did it! That June I booked my first TV role as OB/GYN in Pam and Tommy which had 8 episodes on Hulu. Later that fall, I was back in theatre, in a rehearsal room singing and dancing. In terms of change in preparation, nothing drastic. I look back now and I feel very fortunate! I’m grateful I get to hug people again!

What inspires you? 

I get inspired learning new things especially when the topic is so foreign to me which is why I studied medical coding. It was hard and I say that because most of the people in my class were nurses and physical therapists and they had a tough time with it, too. (LOL!) But it sure helps a lot now when I audition for a doctor or a nurse role. 

Another thing that inspires me is reading books (a few lists of my favorites areHow to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie,The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz,Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, Stanislavski books, Meisner on Acting,Becoming by Michelle Obama.) Friends inspire me especially when they share stories of overcoming adversities or discrimination. 

If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?

The realization happened as soon as the pandemic hit. I remember wondering when the world would be “normal” again. I stopped obsessing about career moves and FOMO. 

Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?

I’m just honored that you asked me to do this with you. Thank you! 

To find out more on Joan Almedilla, please visit her at: 


Instagram:   @itsjoanalmedilla

Twitter:   @JoanAlmedilla

Facebook:   @itsjoanalmedilla

Strava:   Joan Uy

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Subscribe to our newsletter