Inigo Pascual is wearing Pinoy pride as he’s set to make his Hollywood debut via the upcoming Fox series Monarch.

US entertainment news outlet Deadline broke the story last week that Inigo was cast in a lead role in a “multi-generational” musical drama about America’s first family of country music, the Romans, alongside Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon as Queen of Country Music Dottie Roman and Anna Friel as heir to the crown Nicky Roman, among others.

Inigo won the part of the 18-year-old Ace Grayson, who was adopted from an orphanage by Nicky Roman with her husband Clive.

It’s the ultimate dream come true for Inigo, one that he has harbored since he was child but never thought would happen, let alone on his first-ever US audition.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect it. Knowing that it was my first time auditioning for a US project, I had no expectations that I was going to get it,” the 24-year-old Kapamilya star told The STAR in a one-on-one arranged by his talent management team Cornerstone, as part of #CSGoesGlobal efforts to showcase Pinoy talents in international productions.

“I was even thinking, why would I still do this when I knew I wouldn’t get it. I’m OK with my career in the Philippines, OK naman ako sa music ko,” he said.

“That was my mentality at first.”

According to Inigo, it was his managers who helped push him to “get the confidence to go for it and not be shy about it.”

He was actually one week late for the auditions. He did three scenes for the series and submitted two songs, Tennessee Whiskey and Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You.

Right after the auditions, he got the callbacks and the rest is history.

Recalling the exact moment he landed the part, Inigo said, “It was the happiest moment because niloko muna ako ng team ko, yung manager and handler ko, sabi nila, you have to get on Zoom kailangan natin mag-meeting, we have something to tell you. I didn’t expect anything.

“Tapos sabi sa akin, alam namin, you’ve been auditioning for this project and we just received bad news from the team in America and they want to let you know that you got the part (laughs). Niloko muna ako bago ako pinasaya (laughs). Kasi sabi ko naman talaga, OK lang sa akin di ko makuha, tanggap ko na eh. So, nung sinabi nila, hala, so iiwanan ko pansamantala ano man ang meron ako dito sa Pilipinas, and I will move to a different country. That was what was going through my mind that my life would become very different after that call.”

He was given a month to finish commitments in the country and he’s been in Atlanta for also a month now to film the show.

“Things have just been so fast! Within a month, my life suddenly changed. Even what we’re doing here, we’re almost working every day, but I’m OK with that, I’m just enjoying it.”

Family reaction

Much to Inigo’s surprise, the official announcement was made through a news article on Deadline a day after his birthday. “When it happened, I thought, grabe naman si God, kaka-birthday ko lang tapos biglang in-announce. I’ve been wanting to share this whole project with everyone and when I was about to fly to the States, sabi ko ang sad naman, di ko makukwento ito sa mga kaibigan at katrabaho ko kung ano yung pupuntahan ko dun.

“It was difficult keeping it a secret but now, I’m happy I’m able to share it. I’m bringing the Philippines with me. I’m just doing what’s in my heart that this is not only about me and of course, I want to make Filipinos proud through this project and I hope this will open doors for more Filipino artists to cross over to the international scene, make it a normal thing that we are able to collaborate and be part of international projects.”

As for the reaction of his family, including his seasoned actor-father Piolo Pascual, he related, “They always tell me, don’t waste this opportunity. There are so many other people doing everything to have that spot that has been given to you. So, it’s all advice and good luck and I really need all of it, all the support, because what I’m doing is scary (laughs).”

He particularly shared how Piolo has been giving support. “Actually, I was messaging him on the set, he was asking if you could send me some scenes. Di ko pa alam ano ang mga rules dito kung pwede ko ba i-record yung mga eksena namin dito, baka mamaya bawal at mapagalitan ako ng bigla, but that’s how Papa is. He wants to see my work and if I’m giving the right emotion to every scene. He always wants to hear what I’m doing or what I’m about to do. Ako, excited lang talaga ako to share with them, from fitting ko to first time on the set.”

On-set experience

To this day, Inigo said his biggest break hasn’t sunk in yet and he might feel this way up until the show premieres reportedly early next year. So as not to feel overwhelmed, he tries to condition himself that he’s home and working with fellow Filipino actors.

“Ayokong isipin na Hollywood na to eh, baka bigla akong kabahan or matakot or ma-intimidate sa mga kasama ko. But at the same time, of course, the need to step up and show that we can keep up with them is there.”

On set, Inigo feels like a “legit” celebrity with his own trailer.

“I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw my trailer because it was so casual when they told me I had one, like oh you can use the bathroom in your own trailer. Sabi ko, may sarili akong trailer? Tapos pagkapasok ko sa loob, there’s a couch, TV, heater, microwave, ref, everything! I feel like a legit celebrity here in America with the way they treat me and honestly, I still can’t believe why I’m here.”

He has already bonded with his co-stars, including Susan who plays his grandmother in the series, and recalled his star-struck moments with them.

“Before we had taping, we had a cast dinner party, and I got super starstruck by Susan Sarandon. This was because before I knew she was going to be my lola in the series, on the way to the States, I was watching the movie Speed Racer, and she played the mother there. So, when they told me she was going to play my lola, I was like whoa! I was just watching her on the airplane.”

When Inigo celebrated his 24th birthday on the set of Monarch, he requested a photo with Susan.

“After 20 minutes of talking, sobrang bait niyang tao. She taught me that if I want to speak up about something or feel very passionate about something, about the world, she said, don’t be afraid to do it but do it wisely.”

He also found Pushing Daisies star Anna Friel similarly down-to-earth.

He remembered that the first time he hung out with the British actress playing his mother in Monarch, “para niya akong bininyagan into the character, nag-iyakan kami and she hugged me like I was her own son. Even off cam, I call her momma, and she calls me, baby boy, how’s my little boy. So, it became easier for me to accept my character.”

Inigo said that it wasn’t hard to realize that his co-stars, “when they’re in this safe circle where they don’t have to be actors, they’re humans too, and it makes me happy, and more excited to be yourself because you don’t need to put up a front just because they’re super famous people, especially Ms. Susan.”

“So, I’m excited but it’s a challenge at the same time because as much as I’m starstruck with all of them, I also need to prove that I’m capable of keeping up with them kahit natatakot ako at di ko rin alam kung paano ko gagawin (laughs),” he added.


Despite the challenges, Inigo feels that he’s long been prepared for this moment.

He was 17 when he first moved to the Philippines from the US to pursue showbiz.

“Madami kasing moments in my life where I kept telling myself, ito yung gusto kong marating. Na kahit mayroon akong mga pangarap na gusto kong kunin sa ngayon, I know at the back of my mind, I wanna make it to the international scene.

“Even as a kid, I always said, I want to perform in the Staples Center, I want to see myself in the Grammys, I wanna attend the Met Gala, things like that. I always dreamt of those things since I was a child,” he shared.

“Ang galing kasi parang prini-pare muna ako ni God na dumaan muna ako sa Philippines, mag-training muna ako, pagdaanan ko muna ang lahat kong pagdaanan, to mature and develop the right mindset on things before He brought me here to a bigger stage,” said Inigo, who has already ticked off the Staples Center from his wishlist after an NBA halftime performance in 2019.

Even with his first internationally promoted album Options released last July, he believes it was all part of the preparation.

“Parang prinipare din ni God na meron muna akong all-English album bago ako pumunta ng America para kung magustuhan man nila yung boses ko dito, because I’m also going to be singing in the series, at least, they have an album to go to and they can listen to my songs, and they would understand it, but at the same time, still carrying the flag and saying, ‘This is a Filipino right here.’”

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