Born in Manila, Philippines Nico Santos made his way stateside and studied acting in Oregon, but after one of his instructors told him he wouldn’t make it as an actor (how rude!), Santos remained acting adjacent, working in the costume department at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and eventually made his way to the stage as a stand-up comedian.

Pushing all naysayers aside, the path cleared ultimately lead to his role as the supercompetitive, shade-throwing Mateo in Superstore and his breakout role as the “rainbow sheep of the family” Oliver in the blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians, which has recently become the highest grossing romantic comedy in 10 years. I guess his teacher was wrong about him. Very wrong.

Santos, who is gay and an immigrant, is very much aware of his platform and uses his voice to contribute to Hollywood’s need for inclusive, intersectional storytelling. He sat in the hot seat at the New Hollywood Podcast in what could be one of the most fun episodes.

The actor and comedian talked about his super-relevant undocumented immigrant storyline in Superstore, the upcoming 4th season of the NBC comedy (debuting Oct. 4) and authentic (or oftentimes inauthentic) portrayals of members of the LGBTQ community in film and TV. We also addressed his love for slaying the fashion game, an idea for Oliver’s Crazy Rich Asians spinoff involving Oliver and Dillard’s (which we are totally here for) and gave love to his fellow comedians Ali Wong, Wanda SykesMarcella ArguelloGuy Branum, Michelle Buteau, and Joel Kim Booster — underrepresented voices in the industry that are rising through the ranks. 

Listen to the episode below.