Mapa, a Filipino American, was born in San Francisco and attended George Washington High School (San Francisco). Mapa is openly gay and lends his support to various projects supporting the gay, lesbian, and Asian American communities. On the TV series The Gossip Queens, Mapa stated in the opening episode that he and his husband had recently adopted a 5 year old boy.
One of Mapa's earliest appearances was in 1980 as a drama student at Washington High School's production of Bye Bye Birdie where he starred as Randolph McAfee.
Mapa's senior year productions were Cabaret and Harvey both in which he had the lead roles. Mapa was also a champion orator in the Humorous and Dramatic Interpretation categories of Speech.
He got his first professional break when he was cast to replace B.D. Wong in the Broadway production of M. Butterfly. On television, he has made guest appearances on a wide variety of programmes, including Jamie Foxx Show, Roseanne, Seinfeld, NYPD Blue, Friends, Murder One and Dharma & Greg. He co-starred with Jason Bateman in the short-lived 2001 comedy Some of My Best Friends. He played Adam Benet in the UPN comedy Half & Half.
He wrote and performed in a one-man play titled "I Remember Mapa", about his experiences growing up gay in San Francisco.
Mapa was a featured performer on the Logo original stand-up comedy series Wisecrack. He recently appeared as Vern, Gabrielle's gay best friend, on the hit ABC series Desperate Housewives. He currently plays recurring roles in Ugly Betty, as Suzuki St. Pierre, the gay on-screen host (and the alias of straight, and married, journalist Byron Wu) of the fashion oriented television channel that covers the inside gossip from Mode and other fashion magazines, and the animated series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, as Rick's flamboyantly gay uncle Bakla.
Mapa's film credits include parts in Bright Lights, Big City, Playing by Heart, and Connie and Carla, among others. He was featured in the movies Super Sweet 16: The Movie and Tru Loved. He also played as a stylist in the movie You Don't Mess with the Zohan. His latest film appearance was on the movie "Marley and Me" where he appeared to pick up Marley after Marley ran away to chase some birds on the beach.
In 2008, Mapa hosted Transamerican Love Story, a reality dating programme starring transgender woman Calpernia Addams selecting from among eight potential suitors. In the same year, he also hosted Dancing With Dogs on Animal Planet. Mapa also performed on the 2009 Atlantis Freedom Caribbean Cruise headlining in the Arcadia Threatre.
In 2010, Mapa became one of the co-hosts of Logo's The Gossip Queens, a daily series where he helps present celebrity gossip.
In his act, he jokes that he is sometimes confused with Rex Lee who plays Lloyd on the HBO dramedy Entourage.
- ABC Afterschool Special (1987)
- The Cosby Show (1990)
- Melrose Place (1992)
- Flying Blind (1992)
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicle (1993)
- Roseanne (1994)
- Hart to Hart: Crimes of the Hart (1994)
- Seinfeld (1995)
- Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (1995)
- Law & Order (1995)
- M.A.N.T.I.S. (1995)
- The Jamie Foxx Show (1996)
- NYPD Blue (1996-1997)
- Murder One (1997)
- Spy Game (1997)
- Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher (1997)
- Friends (1998)
- Holding the Baby (1998)
- Dharma & Greg (1999)
- Some of My Best Friends (2001)
- Baby Bob (2002)
- Half & Half (2003-2006)
- Alias (2003)
- I'm with Her (2004)
- Desperate Housewives (2005-2007)
- Help Me Help You (2006)
- Ugly Betty (2007-2010)
- Heartland (2007)
- Transamerican Love Story (2008)
- The View (2010)
- Jonas L.A. (2010)
- The Gossip Queens (2010)
- Bright Lights, Big City (1988)
- A New Life (1988)
- Pollen (1988)
- Hard Pill (1988)
- Who's Your Daddy? (2003)
- Playing by Heart (2003)
- Connie and Carla (2004)
- Murder One: Diary of a Serial Killer (2004)
- The Substance of Fire (2005)
- Dirty Laundry (2007)
- Tru Loved (2008)
- You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)
- Laughing Matters: The Men (2008)
- Marley & Me (2008)
- Going Down in LA-LA Land (2011)
- High Stakes (2011)
- Half & Half (2006) The Big Nervous Breakup Episode