A rock star without rocking

Girls, there's a new guy in town.

He's Rich, he's cute and he's... boring? As the freshest MTV VJ on the block, 32-year-old Richard Herrera will have you know his job doesn't quite mean he's out partying every night.

We hear from his colleagues at the music cable channel MTV SEA that he spends a good chunk of time at his desk doing research, sometimes staying late, even whenhe's not required to do shoots.

So who is this hardworking half-Filipino, half-American hunk who's heating up the small screen?

Television viewers may remember him from his days as one half of "The Riches" on the fourth season of reality TV series The Amazing Race Asia, which he joined with friend Richard Hardin.

The duo won in style, complete with a wedding proposal by Hardin to his girlfriend at the show's finale party at Marina Bay Sands.

Herrera's The Amazing Race Asia experience snowballed into an audition for MTV SEA.

Today, he co-hosts The MTV Show every Saturday at 1pm on MTV SEA (StarHub Ch 533) alongside Holly Grabarek.

Ohio-born

After going through an audition last September, he was hired in December and relocated to Singapore that same month.

It's a dream job for Herrera, who was born and bred in Columbus, Ohio, spent his youth watching MTV and worked briefly as a roadie after completing his journalism degree from the University of Ohio.

"I don't really have any musical talent of my own," he told The New Paper. "So this is like a way of being a rock star without the rocking."

Though he's not terribly fluent in Tagalog, he hosted the Philippine version of game show The Price Is Right with Hardin and is close to his Filipino mum, whose "insanely long text messages" from home in Ohio crack himup.

He's in touch with the Filipino community here, thanks to his passion for ultimate frisbee - a sport he picked up while living in the Philippines for most of the last decade - and from events here.

"I never feel very distant from home," he said.

His big move to the Philippines in 2003 wasn't even planned.

After completing college in the US the year before, Herrera held several jobs, including being a special education teacher alongside his mum and a hair show model, which led to modelling gigs in Europe.

He ended up in Asia after a while, relocating to the Philippines to take up jobs in event and TV hosting.

Herrera, who is single - which explains the late nights in the office - is in no rush to settle down.

He politely sidestepped questions about his love life, preferring to talk about the American football and frisbee he plays on weekends.

"I've been put in the 'friend zone' twice in the last couple of years," is all he would say about his recent love life.

"I don't have too much social time. It's all about the work now. I research artists, music videos, I try to do as much as I can."

He jokingly boasts that when the MTV SEA folks are out of ideas during meetings, they pop their head out and call him in.

Utt admirer

In anticipation of the return of the seminal animated series Beavis and Butthead to the channel - the show debuts in mid-April - Herrera and Grabarek filmed a promo in which the crabby cartoon duo pop up on the same screen as the VJs, which excited the fanboy so muchhe did a little Beavis impersonation for us.

"Itwas like a career moment right there," said Herrera.

Growing up watching MTV icons like VJ Kennedy, John Norris and Kurt Loder, then MTV Asia VJ Utt here in Asia, he's aware of the shoes he has to fill.

"(Utt) is definitely a reason as to why I have such high expectations of myself for this new job," said Herrera.

"I look up to the way he conveys his energy and personality to his audience."

Which is why the rookie's played along with most of the things he has been asked to do on The MTV Show.

In today's episode, for example, Herrera is sent to get his leg hair waxed, asked to walk around in heels and challenged to put on make-up in a moving car.

How does he feel about being made to embarrass himself somewhat for the show?

"I would call it inspirational," he said. "It's such hard work,you girls, being you."

He's not worried about his producers upping the ante in the future and getting him to push the boundaries on his comfort zone.

"They know I'm adventurous," he said.

"So there will probably come a time when I'm going to have to say, 'You're crazy, MTV'."

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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