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Comedian Jo Koy’s Easter Sunday movie may have never seen the light of day if it weren’t for actor Tia Carrere’s inspiring advice she gave him when he was a struggling unknown comic in the ’90s.

In 1996, Carrere was shooting a pilot called Desert Breeze in Las Vegas and had a chance encounter with an unknown struggling comic who was working as a front desk clerk at her hotel. She recently shared the story with Showbiz Cheat Sheet and how a moment of kindness can go a long way.

Jo Koy was working at the hotel when Tia Carrere checked in

“I’ve known Jo for a long time,” Carrere recalled. “Actually, when I first met Jo, he was working behind the front desk at a motel in Vegas. I was doing a pilot in Vegas and my mom and I were checking in. And he goes ‘Hi, my name’s Jo. Are you your Tia Carrere?’ I go ‘Yeah.’ And he goes ‘Yeah because I’m Filipino and I want to be a comic. But my mom wants me to be a nurse. So I just got this job at the front desk.'”

Tia Carrere and Jo Koy from 'Easter Sunday' attended a premiere together in 2011
Tia Carrere and Jo Koy | Steve Granitz/WireImage

Carrere could see that the young man behind the front desk had a dream. So, “I said, ‘Hey man if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, you have to try. You have to give it a shot because I don’t want you having this regret for the rest of your life. So just try and see.'”

Jo reminded Tia of the story before they shot ‘Easter Sunday’

Koy gave comedy a shot and the rest is history. His film Easter Sunday premieres next month and he’s been writing and producing series, while also touring. Koy and Carrere didn’t keep in touch, Carrere said. But apparently, Koy remembered the words of wisdom she gave to him. In fact, when they reconnected in Hollywood, it was Koy who reminded Carrere of the story at the front desk in Vegas.

“He reminded me of how we met when I later saw him perform,” she said. “He was opening for my friend Jon Lovitz at the Laugh Factory, and Jon and I had done a movie together. And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, you are hilarious, man.’ And he goes, ‘You don’t remember when we first met.’ And he reminded me, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that was you?’ Because I think he had hair then. And he had these thick glasses. So he looked totally different than he did back then.”

“Now he’s like filling arenas,” she exclaimed. “I’m so happy for him. Yeah, so, so, so happy for him. It’s just one of those things I’ve always said, the people you see on your way up are the same people you see on your way down and everywhere in between. Treat everybody with kindness and respect, you know? I mean, I wasn’t nice to the guy behind the front desk because I thought he was going to do something for me one day. Just be kind and respectful to people and spread goodwill.”

What is Jo Koy’s ‘Easter Sunday’ about?

Easter Sunday is a comedy about a Filipino family celebrating the Easter holiday and the hilarious chaos that ensues. “Plus a lot more intrigue thrown into it,” she teased. “It’s funny! I play an aunt who is [Jo Koy’s] mother’s sister. I’m like the nemesis. I’m his mom’s nemesis. Which is hilarious and dysfunctional for sure.”


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The film is “loosely based on his life,” Carrere said.

Carrere said Easter Sunday was supposed to be released near the Easter holiday in April. But when the date was pushed back to August, they were disappointed. But, always the optimist, Carrere saw the silver lining with the new release date. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding was also released like August 2nd or 5th,” she recalled. So I hope it bodes well for the film.”

Jo Koy’s Easter Sunday premieres on August 5, 2022.