New comedy series about a gay Pinoy in Nashville

Maki Bonifacio stars in ‘Trying Hard,’ a web series he created on YouTube.

A comedy series, “Trying Hard,” created by and starring newcomer Maki Bonifacio, debuted on October 11 – which is National Coming Out Day in the U.S. — on YouTube.

“Trying Hard” follows the intimate story of Maki, a gay professional from the Philippines, as he navigates the Nashville, TN dating scene while trying to overcome insecurities, family pressure, and challenges brought about by race and his status as a foreign worker. There are occasional references to immigration procedures, with Maki voicing how tough it is to acquire a work visa.

The Philippine-born Bonifacio, 29, worked as a news producer for broadcast company GMA Network from 2011 to 2014. Their team coverage of Super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) won a George Foster Peabody Award in 2013. He moved to the U.S. the following year to study M.S. Television Management at Drexel University in Philadelphia. After graduation, he relocated to Nashville to work at CMT, a CBS Viacom cable channel. To find his way around the Music City, he took improv classes at Third Coast Comedy Club where he ended up performing regularly.

“I have a background in improv comedy,” Bonifacio told the FilAm. “I want to pursue acting, writing and producing. I want to tell more Filipino stories on international platforms.”

His eight-episode series tackles a variety of issues surrounding queer foreigners in the U.S., such as cultural and language barriers, identity crisis, stereotypes, body image, and assimilation.

“’Trying Hard’ is based on my experiences but it’s not (entirely) my life story,” he said.

In the first episode, Maki meets Barry at a bus stop on Valentine’s Day and they agree to swap contact info. Some interesting episodes include unconventional ways to meet potential dates; and the pressure to find love where Maki’s character realizes that “dating is hard AF.”

Bonifacio said he is currently single and focusing all his energy on the web series. He said dating in the U.S. and dating in the Philippines are definitely different.  “If the person I’m going out with is not Filipino or does not have any Filipino background, I have to adjust because American and Filipino cultures are different.”

He would like to see better representation of the LGBT community so “we can tell more complex and diverse stories.”

Episodes are released on YouTube every Wednesday at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

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