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Myka Cue: Finding what gets you up in the morning

By MAE COYIUTO, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 12, 2024 5:00 am

Myka Cue planned the trajectory of her acting career when she was a senior in high school. During a likhisip project for her Filipino class, her teacher, Gng. Dela Rosa, told the class to think about the next chapter of their 17-year-old lives and the question: “What’s your big dream?”

Myka knew what her big dream was: to be an actress on Broadway.

After writing that on top, she worked her way backward. Step 1: Graduate from high school. Step 2: Move to New York. Step 3: Study in acting classes. Step 4: Audition.

But as her list of steps grew, so did a looming feeling of dread.

I’d like to think that I was already legit because I loved acting enough to make it legit.

“Ginang, ang sad naman,” she lamented when she turned in her project. “If I don’t achieve one of the steps, then wala na. I can’t get to where I want to be!”

To that, Gng. Dela Rosa told Myka not to be so pessimistic. “You just think about what you want to do. It’s all about trying.”

So Myka relented and said, “Okay Ginang. I’ll try.”

Myka currently stars in Export Quality, an off-off-broadway play centered on true stories of Filipino mail-order brides.

Almost a decade later, Myka seems like a rare unicorn—one of the lucky few who has manifested her childhood dream. With an undergraduate degree from NYU and an MFA in Acting from Brown University/Trinity Rep, she has acted in over 20 productions and currently stars in Export Quality, an off-off-broadway play centered on true stories of Filipino mail-order brides.

As I caught up with Myka, we chatted about the ins and outs of her journey, her day-to-day schedule, and what it’s like being a Filipino woman pursuing an acting career miles away from home. Through every stage of her life, one topic always came up: her family. In fact, her first-ever role was playing the younger version of her sister during a high school production of Once on This Island. “I was maybe six years old around that time,” Myka shared. “I had a big age gap with my siblings so I didn’t have a lot of playmates at home. But during rehearsals, everyone was imagining this world and it felt like we were playing together.”

When I asked Myka to pinpoint the moment she discovered she loved acting, she admitted that she felt it as early as that first role. “I don’t know, maybe I’m delusional in a way,” she said, laughing. “If you ask me, deep down in my heart, I knew it was what gave me joy.”

Yet despite that innate calling, pursuing acting professionally wasn’t always a sure thing.

“There was never a question about whether I loved it,” Myka explained. “It was more, can I do this with the uncertainty of making a living? Can I be an actor amidst the family pressure?”

Once she checked off her second step of moving to New York and attending NYU, Myka set her sights on a business major, following the path usually done in her family. Myka signed up for courses like Calculus and Microeconomics but allowed herself one acting class.

No surprise, it ended up being her favorite one.

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A post shared by Myka Cue (@mykacue)

Towards the end of the semester, the teacher of said acting class, Angela Pietropinto, approached Myka to ask what her major was. When Myka answered business, Angela offered an invitation to join more acting classes. “I can really see this makes you happy,” Angela said.

As soon as class ended, Myka immediately pulled her best friend Janelle to talk this all through. She asked, “If other people can really see it, why am I hiding behind what I feel?”

So Myka decided to stop hiding. She flew home to Manila for Christmas and planned on admitting to her family that she wanted to pursue acting as a career. Although, the conversation didn’t go as smoothly as intended.

It was during a family dinner at a Japanese restaurant, and Myka was already crying before even uttering a word. “My nephews and nieces were there and they were looking at me like, why is she crying?” Myka recalled. Once she finally broke the news, it was her sister Kristel, her self-proclaimed childhood idol, who answered, “Well Myka, you have to pick something that makes you want to get up in the morning.”

The line shook Myka’s world.

“My mind went, whoa,” Myka shared. She also admitted she was pretty sure she was still sobbing at that point.

January then came and it was time for Myka to return for her second semester. She saw that a play on campus was casting actors and she decided to give it a shot. Pretty soon, she got the news that she was cast.

Working now as a professional actor, Myka confessed that her family’s approval isn’t weighing on her as much these days. “I used to always have those Mulan moments of, ‘Will I bring honor to my family?’ It was always at the front of my mind.” She then smiled and said, “But they’ve been so supportive. I know they’re very proud.”

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A post shared by Myka Cue (@mykacue)

Those “Mulan moments” for Myka settled when her family watched her final play for her last year in college. She had a role in The Crucible and, to this day, is still astonished her mom stayed awake the whole time. “My mom likes musicals but this was a straight play with four acts,” Myka explained then further emphasized, “And my mom did not sleep!”

Later on, Myka’s brother Ken revealed how invested their mom really was. In the middle of the play, Myka’s mom whispered to her brother, “Myka is really good pala!”

As Myka went on to apply for grad school programs, she took her family on a similar awakening. She messaged her family group chat during every audition and once she got to the final rounds of top schools, they replied: “What are you doing in that room? You’re good pala?!”

At her MFA graduation from Brown/Trinity Rep this past May, her mom attended the ceremony and also saw Myka in a production of Sweeney Todd that ran for 40 shows. Myka caught her mom smiling and teased, “Mom, am I legit now?”

With no hesitation, her mom said yes.

Hearing this, I was curious and posed the same question to Myka: Are you a legit actress now?

After taking a moment, she said, “Before I even committed to an acting career, I’d like to think that I was already legit because I loved acting enough to make it legit.”

And her face lit up when she added, “It’s what makes me get up in the morning.” 

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Keep up with Myka through Instagram or her website