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Mapa, Alec (b. 1965)  
 
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Mapa returned to the New York stage in a 1995 Public Theater production of Chay Yew's A Language of Their Own, which explores both romantic relationships in the time of AIDS and the place of ethnic minorities in the larger gay community. Reviewer Vincent Canby of the New York Times gave Mapa high marks for his portrayal of a flamboyant Filipino student at Harvard.

Meanwhile, Mapa had been attempting to develop a career in television, but because of the paucity of roles for Asian actors, he managed to land only a handful of jobs on single episodes of television series during the late 1990s.

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Out of money, Mapa took matters into his own hands. As he told Tim Parks of the Gay & Lesbian Times, he decided that "if no one is going to give me a job, I'll make one for myself." Turning adversity into advantage, he developed a one-man comedy show entitled "I Remember Mapa" about growing up as a gay Filipino American and struggling to find work as an actor.

Mapa's wit and exuberance delighted audiences and critics alike. He won LA Weekly's award for Best Solo Show, and television producers began to give him more serious consideration.

Mapa's first job as a regular cast member on a television series came in 2001. The CBS sitcom, Some of My Best Friends, on which Mapa broke new ground by playing the first gay Asian regular character on television, lasted only eight episodes but led to other opportunities, including recurring roles on Half & Half (UPN, 2003-2006) and Desperate Housewives (ABC, 2005-2007).

In 2007 Mapa joined the cast of Ugly Betty, an ABC sitcom set in the publishing house of a fashion magazine and frequently described as the queerest show on network television. Mapa quickly became a fan favorite in his recurring role as Suzuki St. Pierre, the nasty host of a television show called Fashion Buzz.

Mapa has hosted two very different television shows himself. Transamerican Love Story (LOGO, 2008) was a dating show featuring transgender people. Mapa was pleased by the tenor of the program. "I didn't want to do something that was creepy and Jerry Springer-y," he told journalist Parks, and so he was glad that "it turned out to be an extraordinarily kind and funny, sweet show."

On Animal Planet's Dancing with Dogs (2008), Mapa hosted an international "canine freestyle" competition in which people and their dogs performed creative and intricately choreographed routines together. A dog owner himself, Mapa enjoyed seeing the affection and interaction between the human and canine dancers.

Mapa also made a comedy special, Wisecrack, for LOGO. First aired in 2005, it has proven popular with viewers and has been rebroadcast numerous times.

LOGO also broadcast his comedy special, Alec Mapa: No Fats, Femmes or Asians (2009), which revisits his experience growing up gay in a Catholic Filipino family as well as his life on the dating scene.

Mapa has continued his film career as well, playing gay characters in David Frankel's Marley & Me and Dennis Dugan's You Don't Mess with the Zohan (both 2008). He also had a part as a high school teacher in Stewart Wade's gay-themed Tru Loved (2008).

In addition to writing the material for his comedy shows, Mapa has penned a column for The Advocate since 2003. His subjects may be personal or of general cultural interest, on amusing or serious topics, but they consistently reflect both his wit and his deep commitment to the cause of glbtq rights.

Mapa devotes enormous amounts of time to fundraising for worthy organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Trevor Project, and Lambda Legal.

Of particular importance to him is the Matthew Shepherd Foundation. He has served on the Foundation's advisory board; and has expressed great admiration for Judy Shepherd, Matthew's mother, who has been tireless in her efforts to combat and support legislation to allow the prosecution of hate crimes against glbtq people.

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