Pride and Joy
By Adding Some Far-East Flavor to PC, Joy Bisco Hope To Inspire The Asian-American Community
Until high school, Port Charles's Joy Bisco (Marissa; ex-Casey)- had yet to come out of the closet... as an actor, that is. "I got an agent in high school, but nobody knew," she grins, "only my family members and two orthree of my closest friends. I didn't want anybody to judge me on something I enjoyed to do. I didn't want anyone to take that away from me." At first, her parents were supportive of their daughter's hobby. But the two-hour commute to auditions became taxing for the Bisco clan. "I didn't drive, so when I had auditions, [my parents] would have to take off work and my sister would have to skip school," the actress recalls. "Sometimes, I'd be going up to L.A. during pilot season three times a week, and it was a pain." Bisco's folks tried to dissuade their daughter from continuing. "They were like, 'What are you doing? You're not going to do anything with [acting]. Go to school!'" she laughs. "Old-school Filipino parets ... they're very strict; acting is not practical."
In time, however, the actress began booking gigs, and Bisco's parents realized that this acting thing was for real. "We had our ups and downs, but they are very supportive now," she smiles. "It's so cool to see my dad -- my dad, out of all people -- kind of brag about me. He was never the type of person to be like, 'We're really proud of you.' It was always a silent pride, so for him to actually voice it feels really good." What also feels good to Bisco is having a certain project on her resumé that hits close to home: The Debut, one of the first Filipino-American movies produced and released in the United States. "It meant a lot to me because I was able to identify on a close level with the characters," the actress relates. "Usually, I'll go out [on an audition] as Chinese or Japanese if it calls for an ethnic role, but never for a Filipino." That is a problem no just for Bisco. "The people who [Filipino] kids can look up to are few and far between. After The Debut had hit San Diego, all these kids would come up to me and be like, 'Oh my gosh, Joy Bisco! I love your movie; that's my life story.' To get that response from a young generation [of Filipinos], that makes you feel good."
Things are getting better, notes the actress. "It's cool to see so much more diversity in TV and film," she shares. "I remember seeing Kelly Hu on Sunset Beach [as Rae] and Lea Salonga on As The World Turns [as Lien] -- she's also Filipino. She's really big in the Filipino community, too, and to be mentioned in the same sentence with her is like, 'Wow. That's such an honor.'"
By 2001, Bisco had snagged the role of a cheerleader in the big-screen comedy Not Another Teen Movie, and earlier this year, she landed the role of Casey, one of PC's resident angels. "Casey was kind of a wild character, so when I went in [to audition], everybody had on leather and did the whole thing up," she remembers. "It was fun because I usually go out for cheerleader-type roles. I just vibed her." Of course, when Bisco booked the recurring role, she had no idea that she would be asked to stay on at PC after Casey returned to heaven. "Toward the end of 'Secrets', [Executive Producer] Julie Hanan Carruthers called me up to her office, and asked me what I thought about playing [Casey's] twin sister. I was like, 'Oh, that would be so cool.' In reality, I was so shocked. I didn't want to flip on her couch!" she giggles.
Now inhabiting the role of the very-much-alive Marissa, Bisco enthuses that her daytime duty has been, well, heavenly. "To be a part of this is surreal," she marvels. "This is like a dream ... to be able to do this. It's my love, and I'm getting paid to do it."
Come on Down
In 1999, Joy Bisco was a contestand on The Price is Right. Did Bob Barker show her the money? "I won the whole shebang!" she enthuses. "I got to kiss Bob Barker and everything." She made it on-stage by bidding $1 for a couch and a supply of Hot Pockets. "I was the first name to get called [to come on down], and I was the last person to actually make it. The game I played was the one where he gives you seven one-dollar bills for a car. You guess a digit [of the car's price], and you give back a dollar for however many numbers you're off. As long as you have one dollar left, you can buy the car. At the very end, I had one left, and he was like, 'It's your car!' It was a Dodge Caravan. Then, I won the [money] wheel, and when I went to the Showcase Showdown, [I bid on] an oak rocking horse, a kitchen set, something else and a trailer. I ended up winning all of that; it was $45,000 in prizes. I was stoked! Everything is at home with my family. The only thing I kept was the Hot Pockets," the actress laughs.
Just the Facts
Birthday: October 15
Hails From:: San Diego, CA
Big Wheels: "I drive a Silverado with a little kit, so it's huge. I'm like this little thing in this big truck, but it's cool driving it because you command the road."
Must-See TV: Alias
Painting the Town: "My boyfriend decided he wanted to buy a paint-ball store, so I did it with him. When I'm not working on Port Charles, I'm there at the register."
Family Affair: "I'm Filipino, and everyone has a lot of kids in the Philippines [laughs]. We have tribes there!"
Sea Sure: "My father was in the Navy, so he came over here [from the Philippines] and brought my mom. Then, they had my sister, Jennifer, me and my younger brother, Desadario, Jr. It was the five of us growing up in San Diego -- with the whole Navy thing."
[Soap Opera Digest, August 27, 2002]