Melody Butiu | California | Embodying Characters

Filipino Actress | Broadway Star | Singer

My name is Melody Butiu and I’m an accomplished actor and singer, with a career in plays, musicals, television, and film. My parents, Romeo and Aurora Butiu, immigrated to the US from the Philippines, and I was born in New York City, the middle child between my older brother John and younger sister Precious. I’ve loved singing and performing since I was a toddler, but I was a nervous reader as a child, so even when I did school plays, I was given singing solos, but not speaking lines. I discovered my love for plays and storytelling apart from singing in college, when I toured colleges and universities around the country with an Asian American theatre company called HereAndNow. After receiving my BA and MFA in Acting from UC San Diego, I started working professionally in musical theatre, plays, television, and film. I’ve performed in regional theaters across the US, on Broadway and Off-Broadway, and even productions in Thailand and Singapore. I love embodying characters and telling stories that connect, inspire, and highlight our shared humanity, and that enable audiences to more deeply understand the diverse, complex and often emotionally challenging stories of our human experience. My recent television credits include Mom, This is Us, and NCIS: LA, and my latest film is Amblin and Universal's Easter Sunday, starring acclaimed stand-up comedian Jo Koy, the first major studio film centered around a Filipino American Family, in theaters starting August 5th, 2022.

What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?

When I finished my MFA program and presented at our industry showcase in LA and NY, I got the impression that casting directors and agents didn’t quite know what to do with me. I didn’t fit into the boxes they were used to putting actors into. I didn’t fit the stereotype they had for an Asian woman and I was a little too quirky and charactery for ingenue roles. Agents and managers warned me that Americans didn’t know what Filipinos were, so I should expect to be sent out for roles that were perhaps Latino, or Middle Eastern, but probably not Asian and definitely not Filipino. I asked myself, “Well, what else would you want to do as a career?” and resoundingly, my answer was, “Nothing. This is what I want to do with my life.” I had to trust that even if my journey didn’t look the way I initially expected, even if I didn’t have agents clamoring for meetings right out of the gate, that if I could find one person to give me a chance, then another, then another, I would eventually build a career for myself. I had to trust that I had a story and a point of view worth telling.

Advice to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

When I was younger, I was always focused on how to be like everyone else, how to fit in. I saw the actors who were working successfully and thought, “How could I be like them?” However, taking the time to find what makes you unique, to form your own point of view and opinions about not only your art and potential projects, but about the world and what’s happening around you is so important. Explore the projects that excite you and ask why they resonate with you. Support other artists by seeing their work and connecting with your community of creators. And don’t forget to live life fully, make friends, nurture relationships, and have adventures, because all of that life experience will inform your art. It will make your characters and your storytelling rich and full and alive.

Team Credits: Photographer: Ben Cope | @ben_cope Glam Artist: Caitlin Krenz | @caitlinkrenzbeauty Wardrobe Stylist: Sky JT Naval | @sky_is_dlimit Social Media Handles: “EASTER SUNDAY” TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIixb42aJPg Instagram | Twitter