by Erin Chew, AsAmNews Contributor
Jacob Batalon, after starring in Marvel movies, is tackling another popular genre: vampire television shows.
“Reginald The Vampire” is the latest horror-comedy series to come out of SyFy. It tells the story of ‘Reginald Baskin’, played by Batalon (who also played ‘Ned’- Peter Parker’s best friend in the Spiderman series), who lives a life of failed dreams.
Stricken with student loan debt and earning his way working at a slushy store, he meets a stranger named Maurice who decides to help him achieve his dreams. Unfortunately, Reginald gets killed by Maurice’s enemies and the only way to save him is to make Reginald a vampire.
The series does not follow the traditional cookie-cutter storyline about beautiful pale-skin vampires sucking blood for food and survival. It delves into the deeper aspects of Reginald beyond his newfound need to suck blood. In a recent interview with AsAmNews, Batalon talks about this unique aspect as well as how it feels to be Asian American and play the leading role.
“When Reginald turns into a vampire, he finds more about himself and finds a new confidence that he didn’t have when he was a human. He acquires powers and is able to achieve heights he never expected to reach,” Batalon said.
Batalon added that he sees a lot of himself in Reginald.
“I relate to Reginald in so many ways, because I now am fulfilling my dreams being an actor and what is even better is that I am a proud Asian American man playing a leading role. Hopefully this paves the way for even more Asian Americans leading films and TV series,” he said.
It is interesting that Batalon is playing the lead role in a series where it goes beyond just playing an “Asian character.” Reginald is just a regular guy, having his own struggles who becomes a vampire and goes on a journey of self-discovery in his new identity. Asides from the vampire part, Batalon is playing a general role of an everyday person.
“It is great that I can be a proud Filipino and a proud Asian American, and play a leading role which really has nothing to do with my cultural background,” he said. “I am there to show that our faces are the faces of all regular Americans, and this is important to me.”
“As people of color we have been advocating and championing representation in the entertainment industry and it is time we start to see our selves as more than just a tick box but actors who can play any human role and be part of an everyday or out of this world story, like this one.”
A critique of the series is that it reinforces negative body image stereotypes. Reginald is a person who is on the heavier side, weight-wise, and when he turns into a vampire he is mocked and joked about for being heavy. Batalon understands that weight is a sensitive issue but takes a different perspective on this critique. He believes that his character in the series can encourage the idea that all body types are beautiful.
“I can see where this criticism comes from, but I see it differently. I am on the heavy side and I believe the series pushes this stereotype for viewers to confront it and accept that we are all different body types and we all deserve to be seen on screen,” he said.
“It is important to understand that you’re worth and value is not based on how you look. Society, pop culture and Hollywood have invested decades in portraying unrealistic body goals in the minds of young people and that is what needs to change.”
Batalon hopes Asian American audiences can feel seen and heard as they enjoy watching him play a unique vampire. He also hopes the roles he has played will contribute to the movement for better representation and visibility, but also change the narrative of negative Asian stereotypes.
“Honestly, I would say that I just hope Asian Americans will feel seen, heard and represented when they watch me in the series,” he said. “Because I know for us growing up we never really saw anyone in Hollywood who looked like us who didn’t have to play stereotypical roles.”
“We need to move beyond the negative stereotypes Hollywood has placed upon on and push for roles where we are just us – people.”
You can check out ‘Reginald the Vampire’ on the SyFy television network.
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