Almedilla was born to Agapio and Rosario, whose roots are from Bohol and Cebu in The Philippines.
According to an interview by AsianWeek on June 1, 2000, Joan, who wanted to sing, did not want to be an actress. But through her love of music she stumbled upon the much-coveted role of ‘Kim’ in the Broadway production of “Miss Saigon.” The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Almedilla came to the United States in 1993 to pursue a college education. Little did she know that her formal voice training and previous performing experience while in The Philippines would lead her on the road to stardom.
As a child, Joan enjoyed competing in many talent contests in The Philippines.
Unlike most theater actors who spend years honing their craft, Almedilla never had formal drama instruction, yet she is now one of the most sought-after actresses in the theater. She eventually landed the role of ‘Fantine’ in “Les Misérables,” billed as one of the longest-running and the “world’s most popular” musical.
Almedilla’s career took-off when she landed the role of ‘Kim’ in the Broadway production of “Miss Saigon” (1995–1997). She was the longest running ‘Kim’ on Broadway with 600 shows. She then moved on to portray the role of ‘Fantine’ on the Third National Tour of “Les Miserables” (1999–2000 and 2005–2006). Her other credits include: ‘Soul Girl’ on the Broadway National Tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (2002–2004); and ‘Woman’ in “Songs for A New World” (2005) at the Rubicon Theater, which had been nominated for several Ovation Awards including Best Ensemble Cast; “It’s Only Life” (2008) directed by Daisy Prince at the Rubicon Theater; “Krunk Fu Battle Battle” (2011) at East West Players.
In 2010 Almedilla co-wrote and performed in “Road To Saigon” with Jennifer Paz and Jenni Selma, at East West Players directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera.
In 2007, Almedilla performed in David Bryne’s “Songs from Here Lies Love” staged at Carnegie Hall’s main theater, the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, to a sold out audience. Here Lies Love presented Imelda Marcos meditating on events in her life; from her childhood spent in poverty to her rise to power, and her ultimate departure from the presidential palace. The production looked at the relationship between Imelda and a servant from her childhood, Estrella Cumpas, who appeared at key moments in Imelda’s life. Almedilla was the only Filipino in the cast, provided the vocals for Mrs. Marcos, with Byrne for Ferdinand Marcos and Ninoy Aquino. Byrne, is an Oscar and a Golden Globe winner, and is best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the New Wave band Talking Heads.
Almedilla had the privilege of reciting two poems (Wonderment and A Hill in the Land of Moriah) composed by Pope John Paul II and the United Nations. Among the attendees were former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and New York’s Cardinal Egan.
She has directed several fundraisers including: Hope For A New World (benefiting the victims of Tsunami disasters in South Asia) and Give A Child Hope (together with Places Please and World Vision to benefit The Children of Rwanda).
Almedilla supports Broadway Cares: Equity Fights Aids, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.