Blue’s Clues and You: Host Joshua Dela Cruz chats diversity, hopes for new series and more!

Blue is back on Nick Jr. in Blue’s Clues & You to entertain and help educate a new generation of preschoolers. Below, host Joshua Dela Cruz chats about taking on Steve and Joe’s duties, what he hopes the new series accomplishes, and more!

Josh, like so many of us, grew up watching Blue’s Clues on Nickelodeon, never imagining that he would one day be the host of the series after Steve Burns (and later Joe, portrayed by Donovan Patton). A New Jersey native, Josh is a triple threat and has appeared in Disney’s Broadway production of Aladdin as the understudy for Aladdin. One might also recognize Josh from his appearances on CBS’s Bull and ABC’s Time After Time. But the actor always had his eyes and goals set on bigger things. And really, what’s bigger than hosting the reboot of Blue’s Clues?

The series, Blue’s Clues & You, premiers on Nick Jr. Monday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. (ET/PT). In the premiere, original hosts Steve Burns and Donovan Patton appear. They have passed on the duties to their “cousin” Josh and give audiences a warm hello. Those who grew up watching Blue’s Clues, whether on their own or with their younger siblings, will find this very heartwarming.

They don’t make TV like they used to, especially programs for children! Now that most of us original-Blue’s Clues fans are parents, it feels great to have the adorable puppy Blue back for a new generation to enjoy and love.

Josh shares how he and his little sister didn’t have cable at their home, so visits to their aunt’s house were particularly exciting since they would tune in to Nick Jr. in the morning to watch Blue’s Clues. Diversity wasn’t in high-demand back in the day, unfortunately, so appearing on TV, let alone host Blue’s Clues was not something Josh thought possible.

“[Watching TV] I never experienced [seeing ] Asian actors –forget filipino, just any Asian actor that wasn’t acting out caricatures of stereotypes. I didn’t connect with anyone.” Josh remembers.

This led Josh to pursue theater, where he was able to find more diversity, commenting:

“I realized that it was never a dream [to be an actor] of mine, just because I didn’t consider it possible. To be able to take on this role [on Blue’s Clues and You], I hope future generations that are watching can take away that it could be you on screen. You can have whatever dream job you wish.”

MORE: Blue’s Clues & You – 5 things to know

Steve Burns is credited as having created magic with Blue’s Clues, quickly rising to popularity and easily becoming one of the best and most popular TV shows for kids of all-time. Donovan Patton carried on Steve’s duties and the series continued to be successful. Now, a big weight is on Josh’s shoulders, but I, and those who have already caught snippets of the new show, know there’s nothing to worry about.

When we asked Josh what he believes he has to offer and how he stands out from Steve and Joe, he says:

“I think everyone brings their own person and history to the part. It’s just going to be me, Josh, bringing ME into this character. I can only be myself. Steve talked to me about it. He is the sweetest, most encouraging, supportive person I know. Steve really is how he appears to be on the show. I hope to do the same and portray myself into this character.”

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With Josh being the only real thing in front of the camera, we wondered if any improv was possible, but filming is tougher than it looks!

“No improv. You have to be pretty specific with everything. Like when it’s Mail Time, I dance with the letter. I have to be starring right at Blue, which could be green tape or a tennis ball, a figurine, if I’m really lucky.”

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Finally, on what he hopes children take away from Blue’s Clues & You, Josh says:

“To feel empowered and want to have fun while learning. When they go to school, to feel joy about working hard. To learn that it’s about working hard, not how smart you are. I hope kids have a good time learning to laugh and be silly, walking away better learners.”

Blue’s Clues & You premieres on Nick Jr. Monday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. (ET/PT).