There have been countless stories, movies, and TV shows in Hollywood based on the triangle relationship of two guys and a girl, but nothing out there quite captures the dynamics of two Caucasian guys and an Asian American girl. In Jesse Eisenberg’s (you may remember him as Mark Zuckerberg in the Oscar-winning film “The Social Network”) debut off-Broadway play “Asuncion,” Camille Mana, a Filipino-American actress from California, challenges the open-mindedness and self-perceptions of her two guy roommates—the other played by Justin Bartha from “The Hangover.” The two men, both of whom are intellectuals and liberal-minded, are “awakened” from their preconceived notions about her when they learn about the depth of Asuncion’s personality, her past, and her history.
This is Mana’s off-Broadway debut as well, but she made quite an impression on Eisenberg, enough to cast her in his play without an audition or a meeting. Mana’s first Hollywood role was in Dennis Quaid and Sarah Jessica Parker’s film “Smart People” and was also recently cast in the highly-praised indie film Norman. But what sold Eisenberg on Mana was her compilation of clips from her TV and movie work. The LA-based actress studied Economics at the University of California Berkeley and moved to New York to work on the play. Growing up Mana always knew she wanted to become an actress, but like most Asian parents, they did not approve of her passions. However, Mana continued to pursue her passion for acting and drove herself to classes and auditions as early as 16.
Mana says that the play isn’t autobiographical on Eisenberg’s part, but a way for him to explore ideas and themes that interest him, not necessarily cultures. She says Eisenberg chose Asuncion to be played by a Filipina partly because a lot of Filipinos are English speakers.
I moved to New York City, about six months ago with two guy roommates, and it has been a very interesting experience for me and them. I have previously lived with girls during my college years at Hofstra, but it’s a totally different situation living with guys. I feel like they’ve learned much more about Asian American and Filipino culture from me as I share my stories about my family with them. At the same time, we’re dispelling stereotypes about each others’ race and culture.
I can’t wait to see what kind of reception Asuncion will receive from Broadway fans. Asuncion is presented by The Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and began performances on October 12 but will officially open shows on October 27 in the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City. For tickets and more information about the play, visit http://www.rattlesick.org.