In the mid-‘90s, any mystery could be solved with a few simple ingredients: a blue dog, a handy dandy notebook and a thinking chair. “Blue’s Clues” taught a generation of children that if we “use our minds, and take a step at a time, we can do anything.” One Montclair State University graduate did just that.
For Montclair State alumnus Joshua Dela Cruz ’11, being cast as the host of “Blue’s Clues & You” was a dream come true.
In September, Dela Cruz received a starring role in the revival of the classic children’s series, “Blue’s Clues,” but his journey to becoming an actor goes back to when he was in high school.
Dela Cruz shared that his education provided him with the skills he needed to succeed in the entertainment industry.
“I was really lucky to be presented with the opportunities that led me to where I am today,” Dela Cruz said. “I was prepared because of my amazing teachers.”
The Bergenfield native attended New Milford High School, where he was a part of their theater department.
“I was in the spring musical,” Dela Cruz said. “At the time, I was just doing it for fun and to get to know people.”
Dela Cruz grew up with a love for television, and his mother would even joke with him about entering the business. He had other dreams though.
“I would tell her ‘No mom, I’m going to be a lawyer’,” Dela Cruz said.
While performing in the spring musical in high school, he met Montclair State alumnus Robert McClure. McClure returned to New Milford High School to direct. Eventually, he wrote a show during Dela Cruz’s junior year called, “The Bagel Factory.” The show was based on his experience attending New Milford High School while working at a bagel shop of the same name.
Dela Cruz was cast as a lead role. This eventually got him nominated for a Papermill Playhouse Rising Star Award for the best leading actor in a musical.
“This was essentially the Tony Awards for high school musicals across the state of New Jersey,” Dela Cruz said.
Not long after, he received a scholarship to attend Papermill Playhouse’s conservatory program. For one month, he took singing, dancing and performing classes five days a week at Montclair State.
“Montclair State has been in my life for quite a while,” Dela Cruz said. “That was the first time I was surrounded by people that love theater.”
Then came the summer of his senior year. The actor was questioning everything.
“I was asking myself who are these crazy people and why do I feel so at home,” Dela Cruz said.
Following that, Dela Cruz told his parents about what he wanted to do.
“My amazing parents were supportive and scared,” Dela Cruz said. “Nobody in my family was ever in the entertainment business.”
The actor soon auditioned for Montclair State’s performing arts program. He was accepted and took as many classes as he could.
“I just wanted more and more,” Dela Cruz said.
His sister inspired him to go through all that work and finally enter the business.
“My older sister told me I needed to do musicals,” Dela Cruz said. “She said it was the best way to meet people and do extracurricular activities.”
Eventually, he landed himself a role as an understudy in “Aladdin” on Broadway. Dela Cruz was with the Disney musical for five years. On the side, he would take film and television classes in the city.
Dela Cruz has already become an influence to other Red Hawks. Alex Reitter, a junior majoring in performing arts, shared that Dela Cruz’s success is encouraging to other performers that hope to follow in his footsteps.
“I think it’s cool to know that a fellow BFA actor got such large roles in the business,” Reitter said. “Someone who’s had the same training as me is taking on both Broadway and TV.”
After taking classes and learning more about the medium, Dela Cruz heard TV knocking on his door. His agent got him an audition for “Blue’s Clues & You.”
“Even if you don’t arrive anxious, you start to pick up the anxiety of the people around you,” Dela Cruz said. “Never in a million years did I think I would be auditioning for ‘Blue’s Clues & You’.”
The show originally debuted in September 1996. As a ’90s kid, Dela Cruz grew up watching the original “Blue’s Clues.” He would watch the children’s program with his sister.
In March, it was announced that the show was officially being revived. Dela Cruz’s younger family members will now be watching the show.
“I have nephews that will be able to see the show and have a new relationship with it,” Dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz will be the show’s third host. He follows Steve Burns and Donovan Patton, who portrayed the characters Steve and Joe during “Blue’s Clues'” original run.
Burns, the show’s first host, serves as a producing consultant for the revival. He played a part in Dela Cruz’s receiving of the role.
“I would not feel so confident to start and continue to learn, had it not been for Steve,” Dela Cruz said. “He helped me in my childhood and continues to help me.”
Dela Cruz explained that his goal is to motivate the next generation of kids to learn more and have fun with it.
“I’m excited to get kids curious about learning,” Dela Cruz said. “They can enjoy what they choose to study and never lose that love of learning new things.”