Kailyn Dulay shares her experience as the lead role in the award winning short film “When You Left Me On That Boulevard”
March 18, 2023
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In January, SF State Student Kailyn Dulay took the lead role in “When You Left Me On That Boulevard,” she had no idea what to expect. Little did she know, that same short film would soon take home the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
D’Angelo Hernandez, arts and entertainment reporter for Golden Gate Xpress sits down with Dulay and she shares her experience as the lead.
Check out the story here and on the Xpress podcast.
D’Angelo: Hi Gators. This is D’Angelo Hernandez, arts and entertainment reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. Welcome to today’s show.
Preview of the show
D’Angelo Hernandez: Know the stress of auditioning for a project or casting call that was just made for you? I sat down with Kailyn Dulay, a third-year cinema major, at SF State to talk about her experience as the leading role in a short film production “When you left me on that Boulevard.”
Thank you, Kailyn, for joining me today. Now let’s go ahead and dive into our interview.
D’Angelo: When You Left Me on That Boulevard follows main character, Ly, a 15-year-old girl who gets high with her cousins before a Thanksgiving dinner.
Kailyn: “My name is Kailyn Dulay And I’m a third-year cinema major.”
D’Angelo: After finding the casting call through Instagram, Kailyn would shoot her shot, not anticipating much but still hoping deep down. The casting team was on the search for people local to Southern California, but for Kailyn she recently just moved up to the Bay Area from San Diego and didn’t think she had the chance.
Kailyn: This was an all-Filipino-American cast in the area I grew up in. Like when we shot, we were shooting a few blocks away from the house I grew up in, which was really, really weird but really serendipitous because, like, I didn’t think I was going to get it and I didn’t. This was the very first thing I ever auditioned for. ”
D’Angelo: Getting into talking about some of the reasons she considered auditioning for the role. Dulay recalls growing up not having any representation in any media.
Kailyn: I just categorized myself with the Asian community, not really knowing or understanding when I was younger, like what it meant to be a Filipino. If you are Filipino, you understand the nuances and the very small things that the auntie’s do in the corner, or the uncles do outside and or the little cousins, you see those things, and you recognize it.
D’Angelo: Before knowing they were entered into the Sundance Film Festival, a large independent Film Festival in the U.S., they would have a small, private screening just for the crew and some family where the director teased some future news to come.
Kailyn: “So we got the call sooner, and then she told us, and just like I was in shock, I didn’t-. The only thing I was really saying was, ‘oh, my god’, that’s the only thing I remember saying during the call.”
D’Angelo: After receiving the news about getting into Sundance. The cast, crew and family were invited out to the premiere to see all the other films that were chosen alongside their own.
Kailyn: “Being able to share that with my family, too, because my parents went and then my grandparents and my tita’s husband came with us. So and also my auntie and younger cousin went too. But being able to share that with them was like really rewarding for me.”
D’Angelo: Unsure of when the awards ceremony was, Dulay and her family would have return home after the premiere.
Kailyn: “A few days after I left. And then I just was looking at the stories and then I saw like, oh, I guess they’re having the awards right now. And then in the midst of me, like taking a break, I was on my phone doing something else.
I got a text from one of the producers saying, We won. And then we were like, What? And then he was like, We won the grand jury prize. And then I was like, No. And I was, I was just freaking out. And then I yelled. And then my mom and then my mom’s like, Huh? And then I ran because I have a loft bed. So I, like, ran down the ladder. And then I was like, showing my mom the text. And then she was going through her story to see if she could find it because they were posting one in real-time on the story. So she was like trying to find it and she saw my face on there. And then, like, we both just started bawling in tears. ”
D’Angelo: And after looking at who was on the Jury the victory meant that much more.
Kailyn: “I looked at who was part of our jury, and it was one of my favorite directors right now, Destin Daniel Cretton, who directed the Shang-Chi movie and he’s doing more stuff with Marvel, but he was part of our jury panel. And just knowing that someone that I admire and who’s done a movie that’s been like big with the Asian American community, especially since it is a superhero film like that. He saw us and he saw, like my face too. I was like what is going on?”
D’Angelo: Even with all that success, Dulay keeps a humble self-image of herself by not flaunting her work. Yet in defiance of this, she would be bombarded with compliments from contemporaries at the festival.
Kailyn: “One thing I consistently got was every like a lot of the directors always talked about my eyes. And like how I was able to act with my eyes. And then at Sundance, that was another thing I was hearing from people of like there was were a lot of quiet moments that I was in. And then that was another thing I was getting was like, Oh, you really know how to show the emotions with your eyes and like, I don’t take compliments very well. I still, I’m still learning how to take compliments. ”
D’Angelo: We then got into how maintaining her self-identity is a core value she holds close.
Kailyn: “I hope that I still retain like the most authentic me as possible because I think that is what shines through instead of assimilating into what roles or what images that the industry wants from you, because being you is like, the best version you could be.”
Kailyn: “I know, in this industry, I shouldn’t have dyed hair, everyone I’ve talked to was like you need to dye your hair back. But I’m like, well, I’m gonna keep my hair dyed for as long as I can until like, I know, I can’t. And even then I’m gonna find ways to work around changing my hair color to like other colors that I want, because that’s just how I am”
D’Angelo: And with that, we’re going to take a quick break.
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Cont. Main Story
D’Angelo: And now that we’re back, let’s get into how Dulay related to the main character Ly so much.
Kailyn: “All this stuff I like was drawing on family because of how family-centric this film was. So I was, it was really easy to slip into it because I like when I was reading the script, I just imagined my family and like, the grandpa in the movie, or in the short I was imagining my grandpa. Because he prays the exact same way and then the tita or the auntie, who was throwing the party, who has the white husband, the one who threw all of our parties was my tita, who was married to a white guy. So it was just it was all very very serendipitous, because I was like, someone’s been spying on me and my life and they just put it into a movie. And I’m like, do I need to call someone?”
D’Angelo: So much of Dulay’s inspiration to pursue this role comes from her family, during the filming she had told the aunt, whom she was reminded of in the film, about the short film she was taking part of.
Kailyn: “ I saw her while we were filming because she came over to my grandmother’s house and then like I told her, and then she was so excited. She was like, Oh yeah, we will watch it when it comes out. We’ll have a whole family party and everything.”
D’Angelo: Oh, that’s so sweet
D’Angelo: Have you guys got to watch it together?
Kailyn: So she, unfortunately, passed away after the filming. So it was really like this movie, just the weight of it for me. Just it became more of a weight because of that.
The whole film for me was dedicated to her. Because she, it was a very big part of my upbringing of going to family get-togethers and she was always the auntie or tita who threw all of them. And the last one that I was able to have with her was like Filipino culture, we have a Debut it which is basically like a Filipino quince or sweet 16 but when you’re 18. So like that was she, because it was in the pandemic. It was a very small one only family only, like, because you know, COVID So it was just like a small one. And that was the last thing that she like threw for me and that I was able to go to but it was very emotional. And like the one thing that I was going through my head when it passed, like she passed was, she’s never going to be able to watch it. And that when like, it hit a lot, because she knew how excited I was for it. And she was really excited to watch it. So she like I know. Like, I’m Catholic, so I knew she’s watching over me and like she watched it from where she is, but it like really weighed heavy on me after, because I knew how much she wanted to watch it. But my uncle who’s her husband, ended up going to Sundance with us and he watched it. And like I was getting emotional when he was watching it because he was sitting in front of me. And just knowing that he watched it, I started crying in the middle of it. That’s the screening that hit the hardest was when he was watching it, because I was like, this is this is for you guys. And then when her son, my Kuya watched it, and then I- I was talking to him about it. And he was like, Yeah, this is, this is really like kind of our family get-togethers and it was really emotional. So I was like, I know they didn’t know I was crying but I was crying when I knew that they watched it. But yeah, it was it- it hit harder for me and I don’t I don’t really talk about it much because of how this is the first family passing that’s really hit me because she’s an auntie that like I spent a lot of time with with my grandparents because that’s my grandma sister and like I always hung out with them when I was little because I was surrounded by adults. But like it hit the hardest because she was a very prevalent adult figure in my life. And she really, like she was a really big part of my inspiration for the film was her and my experience with her because like, there’s this one shot if you watch the trailer, where it’s the Auntie’s talking, and then little kids running, and I was like that. It was, it hit hard because it was like that’s like her and my grandma, and her sisters like talking. And then I’m one of those little kids running in and out of the room is like playing with my cousins, or just watching my older cousins play like, their Nintendo or their video games. So it was, yeah, like all of this. I put it in my Instagram posts, or like, at the end of it, I was like this for you. Like I, because you know, I don’t want to tell too many people about this. And some people don’t read all the way to the end of your captions. So I always put like this is this whole thing is for her because this she’s she’s what Thanksgiving is is like all her.”
D’Angelo: Realizing how much more this film now meant to her It was essential now for Dulay that her younger cousin, Kuya and his father, got to see the film
Kailyn: “My Kuya he’s an only child, and like how the connection or like how close him and his mom were, I was like, I need him to watch it to know that this is where his mom and I need my uncle to watch this to know that this is for his wife. This is all for the family. Because they’re the ones I was basing it off of, and knowing that they are proud of what was shown and the portrayal of it. And even though it didn’t show direct reference to them, but knowing that they really liked it and what I did, and knowing that she’s like, kind of the whole backing for it for me. Like like it just means the world to me that they, they liked it and they saw it and like they’re the direct connection to her. And knowing that they, they were like, yeah, this, this was, this was, this was it. Nothing that these other people say about it really matters. That’s all the all the validation I needed, of like knowing that I’m honoring her.”
D’Angelo: “And that concludes today’s interview, thank you again to Dulay for joining us. You can follow us on Instagram and Twitter @GGXnews, and visit the website: goldengatexpress.org. To get more updates, and you can sign up for our newsletter the everglade, Thanks again for listening.
Editor’s Note: This podcast has been updated for clarity. The podcast refers to kuya as a younger cousin of Dulay. However, kuya is a Filipino word that means older male relative.