A Dashing Lead: Jon Viktor Corpuz
Meet Jon Viktor Corpuz, who plays Dash in the upcoming NYMF production of Interstate. Most recently seen in the Broadway revival of The King and I, he talks to us about the importance of representation and why he's so attached to Dash.
NAME: Jon Viktor Corpuz
PREFERRED PRONOUNS: He/Him/His
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Tampa FL. Lightning Capital of the World.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ACTING?
I've been acting since I was 8 and singing since as far back as I can remember. Karaoke is a big thing in every Filipino household.
WHERE HAVE WE SEEN YOU BEFORE?
2015 Broadway revival of The King and I.
WHY DID YOU SAY YES TO INTERSTATE?
Interstate is the show I think a lot of us in this company and team have been waiting for. As Asian American, queer people in theater, there's often the quiet worry that if we are too assertive or insistent on holding onto the parts of ourselves that make us us, we may alienate ourselves from people looking to potentially hire us on the other side of the table.
So, when a show dares to have the "audacity of equality," as Hasan Minhaj puts it, dares to put Asian American characters front and center who are idiosyncratic, complex, and messy, it rips the wool from all of our eyes and proves that sentiment to be painfully wrong! What Interstate accomplishes so well is a relatable universality through remarkable, beautiful specificity. As Asian, queer people, we are often not even the ones giving voice to our own stories. Melissa and Kit have so beautifully given voice to characters who would not normally be seen on a stage in a theater if the two of them did not have the courage and audacity to write their own existences onto a page.
Also, I don't normally get to play "leading" roles because of my "type" (I'm usually a supporting/character actor, or an understudy to a lead role). So to be able to help create and play a protagonist role that I connect with SO much is another reason why I'm doing it.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT INTERSTATE?
My favorite thing about Interstate is that it's fucking fun. Because the identities of these characters are unique, at least in the context of theatre, a lot of the conversation surrounding the show can hyper-focus on identity politics, but this show, above anything else, is fun, relatable, soulful, gut-wrenching, and powerful.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER DASH?
Dash is guided by his emotional intelligence and cares deeply about the people in his life, especially Adrian, his fans, and his family. He's painfully aware of the implications of his identity, how the world sees someone like him, and how that creates major dissonance in what it is he wants to achieve in his life. Nevertheless, he is determined to settle for nothing less than the biggest dreams he has for himself.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
One of the main things I would hear at the stage door at King & I was that I was going to make a terrific King one day. On the one hand, it's flattering that people would say that to me, but a large part of me felt unsettled by that comment every time it came up, because it seemed like that show was the only thing anyone could possibly imagine me being a part of in the future. I yearned for more than that, and I didn't know how or what that thing was going to be, but I knew that having a resume filled with productions of The King & I was not necessarily what I wanted for myself. King & I, while lovely (and a game-changer of its time), does not even begin to scratch the surface of who it is I am and what it is I want to share, what us Asian people want to share and are capable of, what myself, as a queer person has inside myself to share and am capable of. Interstate is the thing that felt impossible and unimaginable at the stage door where I was told so many times how good of a King I'd be. It feels like the answer to the seemingly groundless question I had as to whether or not people would want to see me in any other show. That feels wonderful.