Joshua Dela Cruz Talks New “Blue’s Big City Adventure” Movie on Paramount+, Being an Asian Actor and More
If you were a kid in the 90s, you know the feeling of turning on the television on Mondays and hearing, “Hi, out there! It’s me, Steve! Have you seen Blue, my puppy?” and then yelling back at the TV, “She’s right there!” Since debuting in September of 1996, the iconic Nickelodeon hit series Blue’s Clues aired on national television for 6 seasons garnering more than nine Emmy Award nominations for its outstanding work. After 10 years of positivity and inclusion, the hit preschool series came to an end.
Fast forward to 2019, the network announced they would be casting Filipino American actor Joshua Dela Cruz as the host for the all-new remake, “Blue’s Clues & You!” which has since been nominated for four Emmy Awards. The show’s host and star of the series Joshua got his start off-stage when he was cast in the CBS series Bull. Joshua says, “During the show’s “cold open” I played an engineer who is seemingly murdered by the self-driving car he was working on… I think playing that role explains why I’m against self-driving cars.” (Sorry, Elon.)
The lack of proper and accurate representation of Asian people on television is what held Joshua back from pursuing a career in TV and film. “I knew that I had a better chance pursuing theater because actors like Lea Salonga and BD Wong were doing the kind of work that depicted Asians as three-dimensional human beings, not just as villains or the punchline.”
The Blue’s Clues brand has always made it a point to be inclusive and represent viewers from all walks of life. A sing-along YouTube video, featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race star Nina West, debuted during PRIDE month in 2021 to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. In an interview, Dela Cruz stated “Because we are human, there are days when things don’t look so hopeful, and things kind of wear down on us a lot more.” He added, “But then we think about where we are as a society, undoubtedly things are getting better.”
Airing November 18th, Joshua will star in the Paramount+ film “Blue’s Big City Adventure,” which will focus on Josh and Blue heading to The Big Apple to audition for a big-time Broadway musical. The movie will also feature star appearances from original host Steve Burns (Steve) and the show’s second host Donovan Patton (Joe). “I’ve learned so much watching them work on set and have an insane amount of fun whenever I get to share a scene with them,” says the Emmy-nominated actor.
The definition of Contrast is “to be strikingly different,” but Joshua makes it a point to not focus on how he stands out but rather on where he fits in and is loved. The actor says, “Focusing on love has opened way more doors for me than trying to show how I’m different. We’re all so beautifully different because of how we love. If anyone is struggling to find what makes them strikingly different, I suggest they focus on the people and things they love and how they express it. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Stay tuned with Joshua Dela Cruz on Instagram and keep an eye out for his debut single releasing on Thanksgiving as well as catching Nickelodeon’s “Blue’s Big City Adventure” on Paramount+ on Nov. 18th. Don’t forget to catch Joshua on the Blue’s Clues & You! float performing “On Our Way” at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Catch the full interview below between Joshua Dela Cruz and Contrast’s Editor-in-Chief, Michael D. Monroe:
You got your start in acting by working in theater for more than a decade before getting into tv and film. You even played Aladdin on Broadway! What was your first acting role outside of theater? My first acting role outside of theater was on CBS’ Bull. During the show’s “cold open” I played an engineer who is seemingly murdered by the self-driving car he was working on… I think playing that role explains why I’m against self-driving cars.
In 2019, you were cast as the new host of Nickelodeon’s iconic series Blue’s Clues. How did all of this come together?
I was sitting backstage at my dream job wondering, “what was missing.” After a few weeks I realized I needed a new challenge— to help people using the skills that I learned to make it on Broadway. Inspired by my revelation, I thought to myself, “Great! But what now?” Around that time two things happened: the Mr. Rogers documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” premiered in theaters and I got my first audition for the new Blue’s Clues series. It was as if the universe reached out and said, “Hey Josh, have you ever thought about children’s television?” Actually, I never even considered it. That’s when something surprising happened, after every callback I found myself peacefully content, like I had done something I’d been wanting to do my whole life. Then the week of my final audition, I finally got the chance to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”. I remember the movie had ended, the credits were rolling, and I sat stunned thinking about how much Mr. Rogers had changed my life. That’s when I knew I wanted to be the host of Blue’s Clues more than anything. Thankfully the rest is history and I’ve never been happier.
The new ‘Blue’s Big City Adventure’ movie is premiering November 18th on Paramount+. Without giving anything away, what’s the main takeaway from this movie? What’s the message behind the movie? With kindness, hard work, and a strong community anything is possible.
What’s your philosophy in life? Your value and identity are not defined by what you do, but how you do it.
Something really exciting about this movie is how all 3 hosts of Blue’s Clues will be in the film. How was it working with Steve Burns and Donovan Patton?
I love Steve and Donovan. We’re cousins on the show and feel like cousins in real life. I’ve learned so much watching them work on set and have an insane amount of fun whenever I get to share a scene with them. Thankfully we have amazing 1st ADs, otherwise we’d never get anything done.
Why do you feel it’s important for kids to see someone who looks like them, playing the main character on tv? One of the biggest reasons I never initially pursued Film/Tv was because growing up I never saw myself reflected in a way that I identified with. I knew that I had a better chance pursuing theater because actors like Lea Salonga and BD Wong were doing the kind of work that depicted Asians as three dimensional human beings, not just as villains or the punchline. I believe that seeing the right kind of representation on screen can play a huge part in how people view themselves. That’s why I wanted BD to play the “director” in Blue’s Big City Adventure. It was important to me because you don’t typically see Asians directing on Broadway. I hope that kids watch our movie, see BD and are inspired to become directors. To take control of the narrative and share their stories with the world.
What’s next for you that you can share with us? On Thanksgiving, I will be independently releasing my very first single! I don’t want to give too much away, but it will be available on all streaming platforms. I’ll be releasing updates on Instagram, @itsjoshdelacruz, so stay tuned!
The definition of Contrast is ‘to be strikingly different.’ What makes you strikingly different? I’m not entirely sure if I know what makes me strikingly different. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but I find it incredibly difficult not to compare myself and my career with people on social media. So as a daily practice instead of starting my day on social media and trying to pinpoint what makes me different, I start my day with a meditation to try and focus on love. Who do I love, what do I love, what is it that I love doing. I try to invest as much time and energy into love as I can. I love my wife, our dog, my family, my friends, fashion, Brazilian jiu jitsu… Focusing on love has opened way more doors for me than trying to show how I’m different. We’re all so beautifully different because of how we love. If anyone is struggling to find what makes them strikingly different, I suggest they focus on the people and things they love and how they express it. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Talent: Joshua Dela Cruz
Art Direction and Interview: Michael D. Monroe
Photography: Paramount+ and Nickelodeon
Assistant Art Direction: Alessio Filippelli