I just never looked the part.: Becoming Minnesotan

Dr. Maryam Beltran Shapland, Emergency Physician at Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury
  • Name - Maryam Beltran Shapland
  • Age at interview - 34
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 01.25.2011
  • Patrick Faunillan in “Easter Parade” at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.

    Discrimination, Filipino

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Problems in America: What could have helped this person’s adjustment in the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Immigrants face many challenges as they adjust to life in a new place that has different foods, housing, music, schooling, transportation, and so many other new things. However, the prejudices and racism they face are the most challenging. Sometimes the prejudice they face may be subtle; others may be judging them using stereotypes or making conclusions based on appearance and not even be aware they are doing it themselves. This is a problem faced not only by new immigrants, but by members of any distinct group in a society.

    To learn more about Filipino history and culture, visit our Filipino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryam Shapland 6
    2:2 Minutes | 1.97Mb


    Narrator: Maryam Shapland (MS)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    MS: Theater was interesting. I auditioned for all these lead roles. I sang and I felt like I sang better than some of the kids that were auditioning, but I was never picked as the lead role, because I was brown. [Chuckles] I auditioned for Steel Magnolias and I was the background person. Literally, I was in the back stage with my voice; I was the voice-over person. Then, I think I was a hairdresser or something like that. I auditioned for Little Shop of Horrors, for the lead.

    LM: For Audrey?

    MS: For Audrey. They made me one of the African American singers. I auditioned for Cinderella for the lead, and I was part of the chorus. So it was an interesting experience for me, because I thought, "Hey, I can sing better than that Cinderella or that Audrey or whoever is singing," but I just never looked the part for the director.

    LM: Now, let’s think back. About what year was that?

    MS: This was about 1992, 1993.

    LM: Okay, Maryam, this is the year 2011, tell me, if you had been Maryam Shapland auditioning in a high school play for the lead, do you think things would be different?

    MS: I think it would be. I remember it was groundbreaking — I think it was 1996, 1997 — when there was a Filipino prince on TV.

    LM: Yes.

    MS: Was it Cinderella?

    LM: It was Cinderella.

    MS: That was huge. I think it was when, maybe, colorblind casting became the norm and not the exception.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  1. Participation in events, leading to knowledge, opinons, or skills.  2. The knowledge thus gathered.


    Adjective: Innovative; new, different; doing something that has never been done before.


    Noun: That which is regarded as normal or typical.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2147