Elena Heuzé wants to take Filipino representation in Hollywood films and TV to the next level.
The Filipino-French actor, who goes by she/they pronouns, is starring in Netflix's Heart Shot, a short film about two teens in high school planning their future together. While the short might look like a dreamy queer love story on the surface, there's something gritty lying underneath, as Elena's character Nikki sees her past return to threaten what she holds dear.
Elena relates to her character to an extent. Like Nikki, she got away from her past life for a different future—she moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school in the Philippines to pursue her dreams of acting.
When she was younger, Elena tried acting here in the country—starring in commercials as a child and even signing with Viva Entertainment—but she found the art form different.
On authentic representation
And while she's thousands of miles away from her homeland, one of the Filipina's acting goals is rooted in her heritage.
"My purpose as a Filipino actor is to come out here and make that representation, make the stories, or be part of the stories," she told PhilSTAR L!fe. "There's very little Asian representation and right now, it's only starting to pick up like very slowly, but it's still getting somewhere and that's making me very hopeful."
Narrowing it down to Filipino representation in Hollywood, however, there's still a long way to go.
"I feel like we are not as represented in TV and film as other Asian countries are. Filipinos are not as represented as we want them to be," Elena shared.
"I know firsthand because even I, as a Filipino, get auditions to be a Latina, a Mexican, or like any Hispanic, but I rarely get auditions to [for Filipino roles]. So I would love to change that," they added.
She noted how Filipino-American actress Vanessa Hudgens wasn't recognized as a Pinoy in High School Musical or even trans actress Ivory Aquino, who was cast in Batgirl to play Singaporean Alysia Yeoh.
"I'm hoping that Heart Shot will open more doors for me to meet more Filipino creatives here in L.A. to create and write with them. I have a couple of my own ideas that I would love to either write or sell," Elena said.
"One of my goals is to be in a Filipino film—whether it's [with] a Filipino writer, Filipino director, or a whole Filipino crew."
Elena also dreams of being the first Filipino queer Spider-Man, something she's been vocal about on Instagram. The actor talked about being excited and happy about Aquino's casting in the DC movie, saying starring in a superhero film is her ultimate goal.
"There's so many aspects to that. The cool thing about casting me is that I don't identify as a woman, I'm sort of in the spectrum of woman and non-binary—I'm still figuring that out and it's a constant journey for me," they shared.
"I can just see kids, people in the closet, or just Filipinos who see that it could open so many doors and open people's eyes to just what kind of world we can be in. We're not just the side characters anymore."
Watch Elena in action in Heart Shot, which is available to stream on Netflix.