British | Filipino

James Cooney.jpg

My parents met in the Philippines He decided to visit the Philippines on a holiday while my half-brother was staying at his place in the UK. It was a strange choice in the 80s as it wasn’t a usual touristic destination but a friend of his had recommended it, so he decided to go. My parents met on the first night of his trip, but he had really bad jetlag, so he slept for 14 hours and missed seeing my mum for a few weeks. It was by chance that they met again and got to spend a lot of time together. When his trip had ended he wrote a letter to her saying he wanted to continue the relationship and for her possibly to come to the UK. My mum flew to England and arrived in December ’88, she had never seen snow and didn’t know where the UK actually was. After she arrived they never looked back. 
I grew up in Manchester, only since University have I ever really thought about my mixed heritage. In my primary school I didn’t really feel I was different to anyone else. I think this may be because people assume my fair skin means I am white. It’s only when I explain my mix that people actually notice. 
Back in 2016 when I was working at the RFC one of the national papers reviewed the show. It’s predominantly a black cast but they focused on me and identified me as white, they had essentially deleted a whole part of my identity. It really hit home that I have to fight to be seen as a mixed-race person. I have a niece and a god-daughter who are also mixed, I want them to know when I’m doing things in the public eye I want them to see they their heritage is being represented. 
Especially in Manchester there were not many mixed race or Filipino people. I do love meeting mixed-race people, I think especially in the theatre and acting industry we do need to work harder to be recognised. I’m usually cast as White-English which can be quite frustrating. 
I think we need to recognise that based on the history of our country we will of course have a melting pot of people. It’s something to celebrate and look at as a positive. Racial identity will develop over time based on people’s continuously mixing.