Talking to Josh Dela Cruz about Blue’s Clues & You is something that is very special to our family as Blue’s Clues was one of those shows that my son loved. We were happy to find out that Blue’s Clues & You would be entertaining and teaching another generation of children with Josh Dela Cruz as the host. Given the opportunity to ask Josh some questions about his career as well as both of the shows with Blue was something we have been looking forward to for a while.
Having premiered in the winter of 2019 and already being picked up for a second season, one of Nickelodeon’s most iconic children’s series to date “Blue’s Clues & You” is back and better than ever with new host Josh Dela Cruz. Rebooted from the original 1996 series “Blue’s Clues,” the all-new 2019 series invites its viewers to join in on collaborative, clue-led adventures to solve puzzles that mixes live-action and digital animation.
Let’s talk some Blue’s Clues & You with Josh Dela Cruz!
BSCKids: We have a huge attachment to Blue’s Clues and my middle son carried around a plush puppy Blue with him for years. Do you find that people tell you stories like that a lot and do you have a favorite?
Josh Dela Cruz: I heard one of my favorite stories about the show while I was in the middle of auditioning. I was going over lines backstage at Aladdin on Broadway when a fellow cast member overheard that I was auditioning for the remake of BLUES CLUES and YOU. We immediately started to reminisce about watching the show as kids and as our conversation grew, the cast started singing the “Mail Song” at the top of their lungs. That’s when I realized just how special this show really is. Up until that point, my memories of the show were only shared between my sister and I. We played along finding clues, laughed, and sang every song. I look back now and realize we were sharing those moments with kids all over the world. Decades later as adults we’ve discussed how our connection through kindness, silliness and empathy were, in large part, lessons we learned on Blue’s Clues.
We grew up right around the corner from Paper Mill Playhouse and loved seeing shows there, tell us about your experiences there.
Every year, Paper Mill Playhouse hosts The Rising Star Awards to celebrate the students and Musicals they perform in High School. Essentially, the New Jersey high school Tony Awards. My school was nominated twice. Once for best musical and once for best actor in a musical. As a nominee, you get to perform in front of the largest audience any of us had ever seen. I remember the nervous anticipation as we waited backstage and then to have it all melt away when we stepped under the lights. This is such a happy memory for me.
How familiar with the original show were you? What would you say your favorite original episode was?
Some of my fondest memories come from watching Blue’s Clues with my youngest sister. I remember Steve drawing a cup in his handy dandy notebook so vividly—the circle, two lines and a line on the bottom. Fast forward to my first clue drawing on set and it’s a cup! “A circle, two lines and a line on the bottom.” All of those wonderful memories sitting on the floor of my Aunt’s bedroom watching the show with my little sister came flooding back to me. It’s not so much the episodes that are my favorite, but the time I shared with my sister as we watched, learned, and laughed. I’m so honored that I get to be a part of that experience with families all over the world as they watch our show.
How hard is working with the animated characters and did your work on Aladdin help at all? What has been your funniest slip up while filming Blue’s Clues & You.
As a kid I spent so much time using my imagination. Building worlds, writing stories, drawing pictures. When I became an adult, I started to develop habits that were effective and not necessarily creative. Thankfully, studying theatre requires you to constantly explore uncomfortable territory. You surrender to the unknown and use your imagination to create a world beyond the “fourth wall.” My experience with every show I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, but particularly Aladdin, has helped me immensely. Green-Screen acting forces you to rely solely on your imagination. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I’m sure I slip-up all the time, but the funniest moments have been plugging Josh and Blue into different worlds during playback. Since we’re on green-screen our Digital Imaging Technician can change the background so sometimes we’re being chased by a T-rex, sometimes we’re hanging out with Keanu Reeves…Blue is an action hero at heart.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I think people would be surprised to learn that I am very much an introvert. A little ironic that I’ve chosen to be an actor for a living. I used to have a lot of trouble reading out loud in class as a kid. I was just so nervous. Theatre taught me to slow to down and shift my focus to other people in the room instead of thinking about my own fears. To listen and to immerse myself in the story. Now I pretty much read out loud for a living and love it.
Besides Blue who would you say is your favorite character on the show?
I love Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper. They are the bridge to what we as adults are thinking at home. And they’re hilarious.
Tell us about your Jiu Jitsu and how that has helped you create balance with your career? Tell us about your journey to becoming vegan.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not only my favorite form of exercise but one of the best ways to learn how to stay in the moment. While you’re wrestling, your partner confronts you with challenging obstacles and uncomfortable situations that would normally illicit a very muscled, labored, and panicked reaction. In these situations, it’s natural to stop thinking clearly and let the panic take over. Practicing Jiu Jitsu has taught me not to panic in an uncomfortable situation and instead, take a deep breath, calm my mind and throw away my doubt so I can solve the problem in front of me. In class we’re taught that we already have the tools we need to face adversity we just need to shift our perception to use them.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is known as the “Gentle Art” because it is one of the only martial arts that can end a physical fight without hurting anyone. I think when we meet with adversity, the tendency is to fight with the people around you or to be unkind with yourself. Instead, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches me to be respectful to adversity and to myself. Defeat is just an opportunity to learn about yourself and no matter what, you can survive. I’ve applied that philosophy to my entire life and have found that I’m more open to new experiences and am happier because of it.
My wife and I became vegan almost 4 and a half years ago. At that time, cancer started to appear on both sides of my family and neurodegenerative disease on her side. We decided that we wanted to be as healthy as possible for each other and our families to help minimize those risks that are becoming so prevalent in our world today. I used to be worried I wouldn’t be able to intermittent fast, or that I would become lethargic or lose the strength and athleticism I had worked so hard to get with a carnivorous diet. What actually happened was I had more energy, became stronger, and felt much better overall. Additionally, growing up neither of us had ever felt good about the process of how meat found its way onto our plates, but we felt like we “had” to eat meat. Everyone is different but for us being vegan feels so right and it’s something we wish we had realized a long time ago. My wife and I have been spending a lot more time cooking together because we’re vegan and discovered how much we love finding new recipes… even if not all of them turn out so well.
Why should parents turn Blue’s Clues & You on for their kids?
There is so much content for kids today it can be overwhelming sifting through every show trying to find something parents can trust. Blue’s Clues was created in 1996 because there was a lack of quality programming that was based on childhood developmental research. Since its premiere, it has proven time and time again that both parents and kids value and love what the show has to offer. Blue’s Clues has become a cherished childhood memory to generations of kids—many of whom are parents today. Over twenty years later, the show is just as entertaining, lovable and backed with new childhood developmental research. What’s more, parents can now share a piece of their own childhood and how the show helped them to learn and grow with their kids. Sharing experiences like this strengthens your relationship as a family and creates priceless memories like I had with my sister.
You can watch Josh and Blue in this Blue’s Clues & You Silly Town Mix Up Nick Jr. clip below: