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  • Jennifer Dezell

Playing a Thai Character For The First Time

In 2012, I went to Manila for the weekend to catch Katy Perry in her California Dreams world tour. I was staying with one of my Filipino friend's family. They were so kind to me; they offered to take me out sightseeing. While I enjoyed amazing Filipino hospitality, people would speak to me in Tagalog everywhere we went. I replied in English that I'm not Filipino, I didn't understand what they were saying. Their response was usually, "Oh! I thought you were local!" I remember thinking, wow, that's awesome. I guess I could just blend right in!


It amazes me how I often get mistaken as so many different ethnicities, BUT Thai and German! I was born and raised in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Thai people usually freak out when I start speaking Thai. Sometimes they even tell me that my Thai is flawless, like a native speaker speaking the language. Of course, when I'm in Germany, people automatically assume I'm Asian. They are not wrong. They just can't tell that I'm also part Caucasian. Identity crisis is something that I've dealt with my whole life. Occasionally, I get asked if I am more Thai or more German. I'm probably more Thai because I spent most of my life in Thailand, but I can be super German at the same time. I think I am somewhere in between, and I'm definitely proud of my background.


My first job out of college was as a flight attendant. I was based in Dubai, UAE. What a fantastic experience it was. I loved living in the UAE. It was such a melting pot; my close friends were all from different countries, Hungary, Poland, The Netherlands, England, Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, Germany, Thailand, The Philippines, USA, you name it. EVERYONE was there. Of course, people would speak to me in foreign languages, assuming I was one of them. During the flights, passengers would ask me for water in Russian, Arabic, or even Farsi. In my time in Dubai, people assumed I was Filipino, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Russian, Mongolian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Brazilian, Mexican, and Cuban; the list goes on and on.


When I relocated to Los Angeles, California, people assumed I was Hispanic. They would get upset if I reply in English. They would ask why I'm too proud to respond in Spanish. I go, "But I'm not even Hispanic!!!"


There have been so many times that I get called in to audition for an Asian woman role. I usually can tell as soon as I walk into the room that I will most likely not book that gig because every other person in there is literally pure Asian. As messed up as it sounds, sometimes I draw my eyeliner a certain way to appear more Asian. I'm used to the rejections by now. As an actor, you learn to cope with rejections, disappointments, and move on. I've had landed a few roles as a Hispanic woman though lol



I have been a fan of Smile Squad since 2018; I had always wondered when they were going to do a video about a Thai girlfriend. When Smile Squad's staff reached out and asked if I was available to shoot What's It Like to Have a Thai Girlfriend, I was over the moon! You have no idea how long I had been waiting for an opportunity to play a Thai character! AND be featured on one of my favorite groups of artists' channel? HECK YES! I was a little nervous about finding out how Thai people would respond to the video. Deep down, I was afraid people would say, "She's not Thai.", or "She's not Thai enough." I was dead wrong! Thai people are the sweetest! The response has been wonderful! I have been getting messages left and right, saying how much they love the video, thanking me for representing Thailand. Yup, my people are the sweetest!


Since getting cast as an Asian character on TV/film is challenging for me, I decided that I'm going to keep creating my content, finding ways to showcase my talents, and perfect my crafts. I made it one of my missions to get cast as an Asian character in animation. I love doing voices; I love doing characters. Why not go for it, right?


Thanks for reading my first blog!

Until next time,

xoxo

Jennifer

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