Despite being half-Filipino himself, the 31-year-old doesn’t identify as Asian-American.
“No. I think that’d be unfair. I think that’d sound like I’m reaching for the minority card on a college application. I think that would be unfair. Yeah, my mom’s Asian-American. She’s from the Philippines and came here and then married a white guy, and here I am. But maybe it’s because of the way I look. Maybe if I looked a little more pan-Asian and I was put in that box then I would be like, ‘Yeah, I identify as Asian-American,’ but maybe because the obstacles that may come up haven’t that I don’t think about it.But that’s a really interesting question. I’ve never thought about that. For better or for worse, I guess not. But I guess I am. What do you think? Am I? On paper I guess I kind of am.”‘
In fact, the Glee alum thinks it is “nice” that he “[looks] like a Caucasian guy.” When asked if being biracial has affected his casting, he responded:
“No. No. I’ve been really happy and really thrilled. I always say one of my favorite things about myself is that I’m half-Filipino but I don’t look like it. It’s always like an ace up my sleeve of like, ‘Oh really? How nuts.’ So it never really has. I just look like a Caucasian guy, which is nice. I’ve got the multiethnic thing going on. People think I’m like Italian or Mediterranean. No, my mom’s very Filipino. I grew up with a Filipino mom. Anybody who’s grown up in that world knows that’s a thing you share.”‘
After the interview was published, Criss clarified his remarks on Twitter by writing:
Just to clarify- 1 of my favorite things about myself is that I’m half Filipino. PERIOD. I happen to not look like it, but THAT fact is not what I like. I like the fact that most people don’t know it’s an ace up my sleeve, an ace I’m very proud of, regardless of what I look like.
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) March 15, 2018
Despite the clarification, social media users had varying opinions regarding Vulture‘s piece. Some defended Criss against claims he is denouncing his Filipino roots.
I don’t get this false accusation of Darren Criss “denouncing” his Filipino roots. People are just picking & choosing quotes & making it fit their narrative. Been interviewing him since 2010 & he has ALWAYS spoken about how proud he is of his Pinoy roots.
— Yong Chavez (@yongchavezLA) March 16, 2018
This is fascinating how he grapples with the privilege he’s had being white-passing. I don’t know if I’d agree with everyone else here that he’s renouncing his As-Am heritage, I just think he’s acknowledging how powerful white privilege is.
— Hoai-Tran Bui (@htranbui) March 15, 2018
On the flip side, others thought his comments were “disappointing” and “insulting.”
As a biracial Filipino (half white) with a blonde 1/4 Filipino child I find this deeply disappointing.
— Tanya Guerrero (@guerrerotanya) March 16, 2018
Ah, the LUXURIES of looking more white! As a Filipino, this is deeply disappointing.
— Nix Santos (@nxsnts) March 15, 2018
Wow. He’s completely tone deaf, boasting about basking in all his privilege. Disappointing read.
— Jesus Martinez (@chuigreens) March 15, 2018
He rather use his white privilege and it’s insulting.
— Monica Marie (@mostlikelyklain) March 15, 2018
[Image via FayesVision/WENN.]