Now that it’s October, we’re thinking about costumes (of course!). While a lot of people do their costume sewing at this time of year only, some people are thinking about costumes year-round. That’s how cosplayers tend to think — they plan their costumes around conventions and events in addition to Halloween.
To bring you a unique perspective on cosplay, we talked to actor and poet Dante Basco, who has played several iconic roles in properties that are beloved by cosplayers, about his experience with cosplay.
Sew News: How do you feel about people cosplaying the characters you’ve played?
Dante Basco: I love it!!! It’s pretty crazy seeing people cosplaying Zuko, a character that very dear to me. And also very surreal to see people cosplay Rufio, a chapter I played over 25 years ago. I’m honored in a lot of ways. It’s just great that people can be inspired by some art that I help create and they in return create this new art.
SN: What is your experience with the people you meet who are cosplaying your characters?
DB: Everyone I’ve met cosplaying my characters have been amazing. I’ve gotten to travel the world now, go to various Comic Cons and to see these characters become so iconic in their own ways. It’s just great to see how they touched people’s lives.
SN: Which character of yours gets cosplayed the most, in your experience?
DB: I don’t know… it’s really a toss up between Rufio and Zuko. It’s great to see it done by guys and girls, young and old.
SN: What’s the most memorable cosplay of a character you’ve played that you’ve ever seen?
DB: It’s always special to see… the folks that cosplay Rufio, the ones that explain how important he was as the first Asian American character they ever identified with. That’s always special to me. Helping to give a voice to a community, that at times there wasn’t a lot of voices out there for.
SN: What’s the most obscure character of yours (or related to yours) that you’ve seen someone cosplay?
DB: I see some Jake Long: The American Dragon sometimes. That’s my original Disney character. That’s always fun. Probably the funniest is someone cosplayed… me, Dante Basco. Mole on my cheek and all.
DB: You know, sometimes you just can’t inspire the scene, you have to jump in and be apart of it. It’s a whole new art form. I did a series called “Finding Honor” on my YouTube page about my first cosplay. I get to DJ clubs and sometimes I’ll cosplay to keep all fun.
SN: What was it like cosplaying Zuko, a character for whom you provided the voice, but not necessarily the physicality?
DB: It was super cool. I’m fan like everyone else. I identify with him in a lot of ways. I think those that cosplay him identify with him too. That’s one of the reason why you cosplay any character. So we have that in common.
SN: What is your favorite cosplay that you’ve done?
DB: I had a great time doing the character from Homestuck, Rufioh. We did a music video on my YouTube page. That’s such a great fandom and cosplay is a big part of it.
SN: You’re well-known for Hook and Avatar: The Last Airbender, among others. What project have you been a part of that you wish people were more aware of?
DB: I’m so proud of many of the projects I’ve done. I love “Take the Lead” because I got to dance and I started my whole career as a dancer. And I love “The Debut” because it’s first Filipino American film and it meant a lot to me.
SN: You’re an on-screen and voice actor, poet, writer, producer, and dancer, and I’m sure I left some things off that list. What of all the many things you do is the one you enjoy doing the most?
DB: I enjoy just staying creative… it all come from the same place from me and it’s the most important part.
SN: Do you have a message for people who are interested in cosplay but are insecure?
DB: Have fun… cosplay because it make you feel good. Do it for yourself first.
About Dante Basco
With a career spanning over two and a half decades, Dante Basco 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. He 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. 20th Century Fox executives were so mesmerized by the uniqueness of Dante’s look and ability that they gave him a development deal for his own series and he starred in a pilot for Touchstone/ABC, The Chang Family Saves the World, written and produced by John Ridley and directed by Paris Barclay. Ever versatile, he’s “Jake Long” in Disney’s animated series American Dragon: Jake Long as well as “Prince Zuko” in Nickelodeon’s phenomenal hit, Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Dante is the founder of one of the largest weekly poetry venue in the country, “Da Poetry Lounge” in Los Angeles and he has also shared his spoken word poetry on Russell Simmons’ HBO Def Poetry Jam. He has also begun writing and producing his own features with his production company Kinetic Films, including Hang Loose, a (hilarious buddy) comedy with YouTube sensation KevJumba, winning the 2012 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Prizes for “Best Actor” and “Best Newcomer” respectively.
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 Hollywood and truly an Asian American icon.