An open letter to Darren Criss from a no-longer-broken-hearted Filipino-American

Natalie Maria Blardony York
3 min readJun 9, 2021


Screenshot from Darren Criss’ recent instagram post regarding his appearance on the Golden Hour podcast

Several years ago I wrote an open letter expressing how an interview that Filipino-American actor and musician Darren Criss gave to Vulture hurt and disappointed me as not just a long-time fan, but a fellow Filipina-American.

This post is not about that.

Rather, in the years since that post — a post I doubt he even saw because of how busy and larger than life he is and how small I and my reach is — I’ve been following along on his quest to further understand his multiracial identity, the role race plays in Hollywood, the importance of representation and so much more.

And while I have made a concerted effort in recent years to pull away from the media machine that tries to turn people into commodities for other people to devour, any time I saw a piece of news that mentioned Darren Criss in recent year, I clicked on it (within reason). I followed his projects and read his interviews and felt the need to share how this writer, this queer, young woman, this Filipina-American daughter of immigrants, is no longer broken-hearted.

I am healed and encouraged seeing someone recognize the reach he has and strive to move forward — continuously learning while allowing us to come along on his journey.

Image of some of the cast from Esquire Philippine’s article ‘The All-Star, All-Filipino Cast of Netflix’s Highly Anticipated Series Trese’

As someone who strives to educate myself more and more each day, working to unlearn the things this world has shouted at us from birth, I try to do what I can with whatever space I hold. It might not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but I keep fighting — hoping that it does, in fact, matter.

So to see Darren Criss come into his own and speak to the systems of oppression that have kept us invisible all along, I felt not just my heart but the hearts of my fellow Filipino(a)(x)-Americans swelling together. Breathing life into lungs dried out.

Everyone is dealing with their own struggles, things we can’t see and can’t begin to know — I know this. And no one can be expected to say the right things all of time (god knows I haven’t and still have my own struggles with forgiveness of the mistakes I’ve made in the past)— especially when you’re living under the public eye.

But seeing him own his words, discover new ones, and continue to move forward has been so much more than I thought I’d ever see. Hearing how he’s advocated for us, fought for us, drawn attention to us, in the years since that post I wrote, brought me a hope that, while often fleeting, is more than enough to keep me going.

So if Darren is out there and reading this, if there is any chance even a few of these words ever reach his ears I want to say thank you. For uplifting us all. This community, your community.

Your family.

And you should know you’ve mended this formerly broken Filipina-American’s heart.