Biography

An inimitable comedian (and comedic actor) who billed himself as "America's favorite gaysian sweetheart," Alec Mapa (pronounced moppa) indeed played off of his Asian American identity and open homosexuality, to such a degree that they became veritable cornerstones of his shtick, as well as his spate of role choices. Mapa grew up in San Francisco during the 1970s, raised in a conservative, Catholic Filipino family but surrounded by bohemian lifestyles and multiculturalism that influenced and shaped him. He formally broke into show business with a role in an ABC After School Special and small turns in Alan Alda's seriocomedy A New Life (1988) and James Bridges' urban addiction drama Bright Lights, Big City (1988). The actor scored his broadest acclaim, however, in 1991, with a lead role as the transvestite opera star Song Liling, in the Broadway production of David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly. In the years that followed, Mapa moved into television and enjoyed guest bits on series including NYPD Blue, Friends, Roseanne, and Seinfeld. With many subsequent roles (including assignments as series regulars), Mapa aggressively strove to break new ground and open new doors in small-screen depictions of gay culture and lifestyles, and won broad acclaim and support in the LGBT community for doing so. Key assignments in this vein included a role as gay, plutonic best friend of homosexual writer Jason Bateman on the short-lived CBS sitcom Some of My Best Friends (2001), a multiseason turn as the gossip-driven executive assistant Adam Benet on the UPN sitcom Half & Half (2003); and, even more visibly, a portrayal of Vern, Gaby's gay best friend, on the series blockbuster Desperate Housewives. Additional features in which Mapa costarred included Connie and Carla (2004), Tru Loved (2007), and You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008). ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi