ELLA JAY BASCO [BIRDS OF PREY]
WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA
Remember her face and her name. Ella Jay Basco is the next rising star to watch out for. She will play Cassandra Cain (a.k.a. batgirl) in the upcoming Margot Robbie film Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn).
In this exclusive interview, read through and learn more about the promising young actress’ career as an actress, her experiences working with the cast of Birds of Prey, and her take on the emergence of female superheroes in the forefront of film and television.
Tell us a little about your story. Who is Ella Jay Basco?
I was born in Los Angeles to a Korean mother and Filipino father and am the second in line of four children. I come from a family where 20 people is considered small and where a party is something we do every day. I love anything that expresses my thoughts creatively from acting on set to sketching a picture of the beach. I've always wanted to be an actress. It's a big part of my family and that really means something to me. My favorite subjects in school are math and history. I'm a little bit of a nerd when it comes to school work.
What inspired you to do acting? Who are your acting idols?
I really want to represent the Asian community – that alone inspires me to act because representation and diversity in the industry is super important to me. Some of my idols who inspire me are people like Natalie Portman, Jodie Foster, and most importantly Sandra Oh. When preparing for the role of Cassandra Cain, I actually used them as inspiration, especially Natalie in The Professional and Jodi in Taxi Driver.
Congratulations on booking the role of Cassandra Cain aka Batgirl in the upcoming movie, Birds of Prey! How did you react when you found out that you booked the role?
The audition process was a month long and I had to go in about 5 times. I watched a bunch of movies, practiced my martial arts skills, and even read some comic books about Cassandra Cain to prepare. When I got the role, my mom picked me up from school right away and told me in the car with my agent on the phone. I was immediately in shock and couldn't believe I booked it! I worked really hard on this role and got emotional because I wanted this part so bad! I mean I totally cried. I knew from that moment on, my life would change forever.
Cassandra Cain is known for being a perfect killing machine. Did you have to do a lot of your own stunts?
I had one of the best stunt doubles in the industry named Marissa Labog. She is a Filipino woman who really helped me shape the character Cassandra Cain. Marissa always made sure that I was safe and I really appreciate all of her hard work. The stunt world amazes me! Seeing people flip or kick with ease is not something I see everyday.
What’s your most memorable experience on set of Birds Of Prey?
We had this one scene where Margot, Jurnee, Rosie, Mary and I had to improv the majority of it. That entire day we were laughing, making jokes, and having a great time. The director Cathy Yan, told us to do a bunch of silly things that made us smile the whole day. The location was also near a Shake Shack, so in our spare time we just ate burgers, fries, and a bunch of other junk food. That day was super fun and didn't feel like work at all.
What was it like working alongside Margot Robbie?
Margot is a phenomenal mentor and leader. She is the ultimate professional and takes charge like a boss. We would joke around set, rap to Cardi B, and make up silly hand games. Margot made work exciting and fun. She was super collaborative. When we rehearsed, she always made sure I was okay and asked me if I wanted to try something different. It was definitely intimidating working alongside an A-list actor, but at the same time I was freaking out just meeting Margot.
What’s your take on the emergence of female superheroes in film and TV?
Well I think it should've happened a long time ago! Little girls should look up to strong women and see that they can be a superhero too. I'm so grateful and happy to be a part of this movement. It was super cool to see my other female castmates in their superhero gear kicking butt.
What’s your dream role or project?
I just watched Election with Reese Witherspoon and I would love to play a version of Tracy Flick. It would be so fun to play a well driven, super nerdy, type-A kid. I love how determined and ambitious Tracy can be, which is something that I relate to in school.
If you’re not acting, what do you in your spare time?
I play the guitar, piano, ukulele, sing, and am constantly writing music with my brother Darryl. I like to play tennis and before working on set I was on a tennis club team. Another thing I'm passionate about is cooking with my mom, grandma, and Auntie Bernie so they can pass down generations of recipes. I also really like to do photography in my spare time – I really enjoy taking pictures of the sunset, nature, and the city.
If you were a book, what type of book would you be and why?
At the moment I’m reading a book called Matched. It's a sci-fi, coming-of-age, romance story about a 17-year-old girl discovering who she is and the people around her. I really relate to this story because my life right now feels like my own coming-of-age story. The older I get the more responsibility I have.
If you had the chance to help any specific charity / organization, which one would it be and why?
I’m interested in charities and organizations that deal with making sure every underprivileged child gets an education. This is super important to me because I don't know what I would do without an education. No matter what circumstances a kid has, they should always have the chance to learn. We are the new generation and if we aren't provided with an education, what do you think will happen to the future of humanity?
See Ella assume the role of Cassandra Cain aka Batgirl in Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) in theaters February 2020!