'Superstore' actor relishes true-to-life gay Filipino role

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — For Nico Santos, the role he plays on NBC's sitcom "Superstore" is personal.

"I never thought in a million years I'd be involved in a project that celebrated the fullness of my identity of being queer and Asian," Santos told a TV critics' meeting Tuesday.

He also appreciates the comedy's focus on what his character, Mateo, has faced after learning that he's an immigrant in the country illegally.

"I certainly know a lot of members of my community who are undocumented, and that's so relevant right now. I've gotten so many messages from everybody. People stop me wherever I go who are ... just really appreciative of the fact that we've tackled the issue, because they themselves are undocumented or a family member or a loved one is undocumented."

Santos, who played Oliver in "Crazy Rich Asians," said he's grateful the comedy is portraying the character with "dignity and respect."

Colton Dunn, who plays Garrett in the series set in a big-box store, said Mateo is important to the show. Dunn and his castmates, including America Ferrera, took part in a panel promoting the show's midseason return in March.

"A lot of times, the narrative of undocumented workers and undocumented people is that they are criminals," Dunn said. "That's a narrative that's put out there. And the other side is, 'No, they are not.' It's great to have an actual example of a character who is really just living through this time out here. All he's trying to do is be a floor supervisor at a superstore."