Ella Jay Basco Opens Up About Fighting 'Stereotypes' and 'Honoring' Her Culture: Self-Love 'Is Important'
The Birds of Prey star tells PEOPLE about celebrating her Filipino heritage in the new music video for her empowering song “Gold”
"Really just from top to bottom, we wanted to make sure that our Asian American community was represented with this project," says Basco.
While Basco is a blossoming actress, with her breakout role as Cassandra Cain in Margot Robbie's Birds of Prey, Basco also loves to sing and create music like with her recent singles "Nadu" and "Screaming in the Rain." She shares that the video for "Gold" was personal to her in more ways than one.
Created by an all-Asian team, Basco's video for "Gold" starts off with the singer depicted in a skin-whitening soap commercial. Basco knows that the commercial and soap isn't right, and the video subsequently transitions into Basco and rapper Ruby Ibarra performing the empowering anthem.
"Eventually we all collectively came up with the idea of doing a commercial scene about the skin-whitening industry in the beginning," says Basco. "Then [the director] had the really cool idea of using a projector to do the rest of the music video, and that actually gave us a really good opportunity to put in a lot of images of racism towards Filipinos and things like that, so we really wanted to incorporate all of what was going on towards the Asian American community."
Basco shares that while her favorite part of creating the video was getting dressed up in the outfits, they made sure the fashion featured was from a Filipino-owned company.
"I mean, honestly getting all dolled up, I haven't been able to do that as much [due to the pandemic]," says Basco. "The clothes were from Vinta Gallery which is an all Filipino-owned brand, and they were super cool, like, some of [the outfits] had the traditional Filipino shoulder pads."
While the song centers around her Filipino heritage, the singer shares that the heart of the uplifting anthem is about accepting and "loving who you are." She says that growing up, embracing her identity was incredibly important when pushing back against stereotypes — and she's used her song to express this self-love.
"I think growing up, there were definitely a lot of stereotypes going around just because I am a Korean, Filipino, little girl," says Basco. "I think just really looking at those stereotypes and thinking about how I'm accepting that I'm not [those stereotypes] because even in the song I've been saying, 'I know that my hair is not like hers, I know that I'm looking at these California girls' and I'm not like them and it's okay to express that."
She adds, "It goes throughout the whole song about just really loving who you are ... accepting your race, culture and your heritage is really important and something that we wanted to discuss in the music video and the song."
Basco says her sense of pride for her culture was majorly inspired by her loving family.
"My family is super supportive, and I grew up in a very big, traditional Filipino family," says Basco. "We love karaoke and singing, and everybody's just so supportive of each other's music and art. So when it comes to honoring our culture and our heritage, it was kind of like second nature for us because we always loved each other so much and advocated for each other."
While Basco is doing big things and making her mark as an emerging talent in film and music, she shares that her biggest obstacle has been balancing her career with school.
"I think the most challenging thing for me personally is just dealing with school along with all of this too," says Basco. "Just trying to find that balance between working, school and the rest of my life and friends. But it's weird because I feel sometimes invisible but visible at the same time. Just because I'm doing a bunch of interviews and things like that but at the same time, I go to school."
Luckily, Basco is surrounded by lots of love and has stayed grounded by spending quality time with her family.
"I really, really love watching movies with my family and they're totally my rock, so just making sure that I create some time for myself and some time with my family and friends [is how I practice self-care]," says Basco.
Through her music and growing platform, Basco hopes to continue inspiring the future generation, as well as adults, to work towards more Asian representation in film and TV for years to come.
"I really hope that we could be represented more in this industry," says Basco." And I hope that people continue fighting for our rights as a community and just seeing movies that are about Asian Americans in general without stereotypes."
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