Fortune favors the bold, and boldness is certainly a key trait of Dante Basco‘s. One time leader of the Lost Boys and prince of the Fire Nation, Dante has a career spanning over two and a half decades. He is a Hollywood actor who has become a cult classic and pioneering figure in Asian American cinema. He was first introduced in Steven Spielberg’s fairytale movie Hook, as “Rufio”, the leader of the Lost Boys, quickly jumped to leading roles like Newline’s Take the Lead, opposite Antonio Banderas, and The Debut, which became the voice of a Filipino American generation. From breakdancing in the streets of San Francisco to starring in movies on the silver screen, Dante Basco has become one of the most recognizable faces in entertainment. One of Emerald City’s featured guests, I was lucky enough to score five minutes of his time before he was zoomed off to another interview.
L: Hi! I’m Leia and since we have so little time, let’s get started!
DB: Hi, Leia! – Zuko voice- “I’m Dante and I’m talking with Leia!”
L: Haha, oh my god, you did the voice! Um, I was reading a recent interview of yours where you were talking about Asians having a place in film (Dante is Filipino American) and I’m noticing that Hollywood seems to be slowly getting the picture that people of color need to have a place in movies too –
L: – and I wanted to know if you have any projects you wanted to do.
DB: Well, there’s lots.I have a company called Kinetic Films that I’m partner of and we do Asian American/Pacific Islander films out of Hawaii, and we’ve done three so far that I’ve co-written some of, produced with my partner James Sereno, and with KevJumba we did Man Up. Me and Kev did Hang Loose together, we did Paradise Broke when it came out. Those are actually all out online. We’re actually funding a film right now for AJ Rafael called Red Roses! We are part of this movement…I created an Asian American arts collective in downtown LA where it’s all about curating, educating, and inspiring the next generation of content creators and it meets on the 8th of every month.You go to WeOwnThe8th.com and it’s about co-opting the 8th of the month for Asian media in America. I’m that generation now where I’m a “young veteran.”
L: What a bizarre sort of title!
DB: – laughs – The world has changed so it’s about getting into the conversation and really understanding that …Hollywood is recognizing that we need to be a part of the system but also we have to recognize that it’s also on us to create the content. It’s not like “oh, Hollywood needs to put us in their movies.” As much as that goes on, it’s still limited to their point of view of who we are as opposed to us as a community, whether it be Asian American, African American, Latino, going, “no, WE have to make content, WE have to be filmmakers.” It’s on us to represent us. It’s not on us to go and say you have to do this for us. That’s not how it works. How it works is we have to write and make the stories and it might start small. It might be a $10,000 project, maybe a $100,000 project. We’re not coming off the blocks making million dollar films and it’s okay! We have to create the stars and stories from our own experiences and not have the system dictate to us. You know what I’m saying?
L: Absolutely. It’s so important to find our point of views in media, especially for kids. I’m sure you get a lot of kids coming up to you and they’re probably ecstatic to see representation in you.
DB: It’s a LOT of kids!
L: My other question is with big franchises like Star Wars and Marvel, they’re putting more and more Asians into their films. How does that effect you as an actor?
DB: EXCITED! You know, it’s great. There’s so many great franchises that you grew up watching and you were in. Like, we all saw ourselves in them in our minds, but to see it actually happening on screen is just great. To be credited as a pioneer that helped usher in this wave of change is also cool. To be part of a franchise like…Avatar the Last Airbender, which is like a Star Wars for its own generation and being a pivotal piece of that, wow. It’s dream come true kind of stuff. I can’t wait to be a part of this future.
As much as I wanted to continue talking with Dante, his other obligations beckoned and I can successfully mark this interview off my bucket list.