A Conversation with Kristine Gerolaga

Kate Anderson-Song Head Interviewer

Introduce yourself! 

I’m Kristine Gerolaga, a Filipina American actor and filmmaker from Vallejo, CA currently based in Los Angeles.

Photograph by Leslie Alejandro

How did you get into acting and filmmaking? 

My junior year of high school, I went to see a friend act in the spring play. It was clear how much fun the students were having on stage and I left that night knowing I’d join drama my senior year. Our high school didn’t put on published plays. My teacher Mr. Eakes had us write one act plays, cast, and direct them, and that was my first time writing, acting, producing, and directing work of my own in front of our school. I took a break in college, but after I graduated I decided to pursue acting as a career. It was only a couple of years later that my acting teacher encouraged our class to write our own short films to give ourselves opportunities. And that’s when I started writing and directing again!


How has your heritage and culture influenced your storytelling?    

Being Filipina American has made me prioritize centering Filipinos and other people who’ve historically been excluded from mainstream media in my storytelling. I look forward to the day when I get to work with real budgets and give marginalized actors opportunities that Hollywood is too scared to. Being Filipina American also compelled me to seek out our community’s history here in the United States. I’m still learning about the amazing trailblazers who came before us and the hardships they’ve faced. And right now, I’m focusing on learning how to tell Filipino-centered stories with great care and sensitivity knowing that I’m doing so through an American lens. I want to be able to tell stories that not only center and celebrate us, but also challenge us.


You also have a first love before entering the film industry: color guard!  How did you get into color guard (and just FYI, we’d love to watch your idea of “a Bay Area color guard version of Friday Night Lights”)?   

Yes! Color guard IS my first love and the biggest reason I’m a storyteller today. I miss it so much. I randomly joined color guard, not knowing that it would become a major part of my life for the next 14 years. I was in seventh grade and a bunch of my friends were trying out for the team while some had already been on the team since sixth grade. Someone asked me if I was going to try out too, and I just blurted out yes even though I didn’t know what color guard was. I ended up making the team and when I left middle school, I immediately joined in high school. I eventually became one of the captains and then when I graduated, I turned around and became one of the instructors for my high school color guard along with my twin brother and some of my closest friends for the next eight years. We even formed our own color guard team with a bunch of our friends called Perpetro Independent and got a chance to compete on the same floor with the best teams in the world (groups I’ve been idolizing since I was in middle school)! They completely annihilated us, but it was seriously a dream come true.

Where do you find inspiration?  When approaching a project, what are your first steps?  

I find inspiration in storytelling podcasts, the news, my own life and the things I struggle with, music, paintings and photos, and watching other movies! When I’m approaching a new project, I do a ton a research and try to nail down the themes that I want to tackle before moving on to anything else. 


How has this time of COVID-19 affected you and your work?  How have you been coping? 

I knew right at the beginning of the pandemic that I needed to be gentle with myself. To not pressure myself to be productive or beat myself up if I didn’t do anything. I needed to slow down, and I did. Then I was fortunate enough to be invited to help make an anthology feature film alongside six other women writer/directors! It’s called Through the Blinds and we spent each month meeting in a virtual writers room to develop the film together. Aside from that, I just made sure to move my body every day and to eat. I prioritized doing whatever I could to not get sick or get others sick. And lots of Zoom calls and FaceTime! 

What does self care mean to you?  How do you take care of yourself? 

I live with anxiety and depression, so self care is very important to me. Because of my anxiety, I try to focus on things I can control. Like moving my body every day and making sure to wear sunscreen. At the beginning of the pandemic I got really good at treating myself and now I’m making sure to nourish myself, too. Recognizing when I’m at my mental capacity and trying my best to communicate when that’s happening. And writing morning pages every day! 


Is there anything you wish you knew when you began in this industry?  Any piece of advice you have for aspiring creatives? 

I wish I knew how hard it would be to find people you like and like to work with. You might like a lot of people, but you might discover that you may not be the best collaborators for each other. And that’s okay! Finding your collaborative soul mates is hard, but they’re out there!

My piece of advice for aspiring creatives: Make noise about the stuff you’re working on. Post about it on whatever social media platform you can tolerate whether people “like” your posts or not. Social media has been a great tool for chronicling my entire journey so far as an actor and filmmaker and it’s paying off in opportunities that I wouldn’t have gotten if the right people couldn’t find me or my work. And even when the opportunities aren’t rolling in, it’s actually amazing to be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.


Here are some rapid-fire questions: 

Your go-to coffee shop order? 

I usually go for green tea or lemonade.


Your favorite season (Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer)? 

Used to be summer, but now I think it’s fall.


Any special or secret skills (i.e. wiggling your ears, etc.)? 

I would say color guard, even though I’m super rusty! And once at a friend’s work holiday party, I was able to guess when he was going to win a raffle prize three separate times. I’d just turn to him and say “you’re gonna win that one.” And they’d call his name! So maybe there’s something there.


Any good movies/tv shows you’re into right now? 

Favorite TV shows of the year so far: Servant, Dave, Kevin Can Fuck Himself, Midnight Mass, Brand New Cherry Flavor, Pen15, We Are Lady Parts, The Underground Railroad, White Lotus, Search Party, The Great, Succession, Station Eleven, and Couples Therapy. 

Favorite movies of the year so far: Pig, Islands (directed by Filipino Canadian Martin Edralin!), Night House, Language Lessons


Ultimate comfort food?

Sinigang, hands down.


What has been the highlight of your day today? 

Eating sushi!


What is upcoming for you in your work and your life?  What are you looking forward to?

I’m currently developing a few different feature films and looking forward to making my first feature in the near future! Two are horror films: one is a feature length version of my cosmetics pyramid scheme short called Concealer. The other is a Filipino folklore horror-drama called Lamok. The third is an anthology called Through the Blinds that I’m working on with six other incredible women writer/directors! 



Kristine Gerolaga is a Filipina American actor and filmmaker whose mission is to tell stories that center people who are often excluded from the mainstream media. She hails from Vallejo, a town made famous by the Zodiac Killer, which is most likely why she is so obsessed with the darkest parts of the human mind. If she’s not binging the latest true crime docuseries, she’s listening to paranormal podcasts (please tell her your real life ghost stories). Kristine’s first love was color guard where she spent over a decade performing and teaching synchronized dance choreography and dangerous stunts with her team while enduring countless injuries. Resilience! Her dream is to make a Bay Area color guard version of Friday Night Lights for Netflix or HBO. 

Kristine currently resides in Los Angeles where she writes and directs genre films, drama, and a ton of sketch comedy (but honestly, she loves it all) with her longtime filmmaking collaborator Steven Krimmel. She is critically acclaimed: Vulture called her a “creator to watch.” She was awarded “Most Spirited” by the Vallejo High School Proud Heritage Marching Band four years in a row. And an Airbnb host called her “so sweet, very clean, and an ideal guest.” 

Her work has been featured on TIFFxInstagram Shorts Fest, The Future of Film is Female, The Hollywood Reporter,  ATTN:, Amazon Prime/Fire TV,  NYX Horror Collective’s #13MinutesofHorror, Shudder, ALTER, Rappler, and Vulture.

Website: www.kristinegerolaga.com

Instagram: @kristinegerolaga, @starringkristine, @throughtheblindsfilm

Twitter: @itsgerolaga 

Head Interviewer

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