On June 3, the long-running medical show “Grey’s Anatomy” will air an episode titled “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”.
It will feature a compelling story of a Filipino nurse named Girlie Bernardo, played by Filipino-American actress Aina Dumlao.
For years, the Fil-Am community has decried the lack of Filipino representation in American medical shows when hospitals in real life are full of healthcare workers with roots from the Philippines.
“Shooting it for the last two weeks when the showrunner Krista Vernoff gave a speech at the end of the series, she says they're really trying to represent the true colors and the true face of Filipino frontline workers and it's starting with that episode, the finale that I'm on. So all of a sudden I'm like, ‘Oh, I didn't realize the weight on my shoulders,’” Dumlao said.
“Without giving too much away, I tried to infuse the nurturing aspect of Filipino frontline workers, specifically nurses, but then they also still smile and try to stay positive amidst everything that's going on. If Filipino nurses see this all over the world, that they can actually feel themselves seen for the first time,” she added.
Dumlao is also headlining with “The Lord of the Rings” star Miranda Otto and Michelle Vergara Moore in “The Unusual Suspects.”
The Australian four-part series premieres on SBS and SBS On-Demand on June 3.
“I basically had to pinch my cheeks and then, when I auditioned, I only saw like three pages or five pages of the script. But when I got the role, I read all of it. I'm like, ‘What? This is the kind of show? This exciting, amazing show that Filipinos get to be a part of!’ It’s very emotional. I’m not gonna cry but I feel like it’s such a long time coming,” she said.
The show also stars several Filipino talents and will have Tagalog subtitle option.
For years, Dumlao has been writing and self-producing projects, and there is a common thread in what she produces.
“My largest motivation for writing these Filipino stories is that I wanted to normalize Filipinos. The story isn't really about them being Filipino. It just so happens to be a part of them. But I just wanted Filipinos to be just kind of like part of the overall picture of the entertainment industry in the entire world because that's what reality is. I want to be a name, so I can help make names.”