Rising movie star takes pride in Filipino heritage

Community News & Features Oct 1, 2004 at 4:03 pm

By Mari-Len De Guzman

TORONTO–She is a rising star progressing her way through the international movie circle. She has television and movie projects lined up for North American release. Her acting career looks very bright.

Her name is Jane McLean and she is proud of her Filipino heritage.

“I wake up everyday being proud to be a Filipino,” says McLean at the recent launching of a new restaurant on Danforth Avenue where she was one of the guests of honor.

When this reporter asked what makes her proud to be Filipino she responded, “We have such a beautiful and rich culture. It is a celebration of life, love, and (Filipino) generosity.”

What may be missing from McLean’s observation of the Filipino culture is its fascination for people and events that serve as reminders of how the Filipinos have excelled internationally in many arenas.
This fascination is what made Filipino families gather in front of their televisions last year to watch pinoy boxer Manny Pacquiao defeat a world boxing champion.

The same fascination unified our kababayans in the US to keep a Filipino teenager from Hawaii in the top three of the American Idol, a televised nationwide search for singing talents in the US.

And it is this fascination that has made Jane McLean a recent phenomenon in the Filipino community in Toronto. Notwithstanding the “crab mentality” image that Filipinos have been hounded with for many generations, there is always a sense of pride that comes with knowing a fellow kababayan is carving his or her own name in the international scene.

And right now, Jane Gregorio-McLean is that source of pride among the Filipino community – a rising international film star from among its own. She just starred in Dave Thomas’ comedy film entitled, Intern Academy, where she shared the big screen with major Canadian actors Dan Akroyd and Dave Foley.

McLean’s family migrated to Canada when she was almost a year old. They settled in Mississauga, west of Toronto, were McLean grew up.

She may not carry the normal Filipino accent but she can speak fluent Tagalog when she wants to, albeit with a twang. She says while growing up, her parents always spoke to them in the native tongue and have consistently imposed the Filipino values to their children.

“My parents have always taught us the virtues of hard work, humility and generosity,” says McLean,
the youngest of five siblings.

She began her acting career in 2001, after studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in California. She has since worked with major Hollywood stars including Joely Fisher, Taye Diggs, Peter Weller, Gloria Reuben, Gary Lewis, and Academy Award winner Mercedes Ruehl.

She will be starring in the upcoming BBC mini-series Supervolcano, opposite Gary Lewis. Tony Mitchell directs this movie, which is slated for international release in March 2005.

McLean is currently in British Columbia to film a new television series entitled, Terminal City, where she co-stars with Gil Bellows and Maria Del Mar. She has also been chosen to star in a David Macquiling film opposite Filipino actor Cesar Montano.

“I have always associated performing with having fun,” declares McLean, recalling how as a young girl she would always put up a show in the basement of their home and always made sure that her entire family was in attendance to watch her perform.

A few decades later, Jane McLean does not only have her family to support her continuing pursuit to reach her goals. She has the entire Filipino community rooting for her, watching her career, awaiting the next opportunity to see her on the big screen and proudly exclaiming, “Filipino yan!”