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Dante Basco: More than a Dragon or a Fire Prince

I wonder how my 10-year-old self would feel if I told her that I met Dante Basco, who is the voice actor of Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender; Jake Long from American Dragon: Jake Long, and who also played Rufio in Hook, alongside Robin Williams.

 Even though I have outgrown Avatar and American Dragon, I still went to Hiler Theater on September 12 at 6:30 to meet someone from my childhood. After all, and for a lack of better words, the two shows were “my jam” back in the day. The best part was that the show was free thanks to the generosity of the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center and the LGBTQ Center.

There were various aspects of the show that resonated with me. Basco talked about Asian and Asian Americans in the media. He asked why there is such little representation for such a large ethnic group. This question puzzled me since it is rare to see Asians in Hollywood. I could count all of the well-known Asian actors in the U.S. using both hands. 

Basco recollected the time he played a stupid jock on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sadly, he didn’t rap the iconic theme song. All jokes aside, he thought it was refreshing for him to be this character, because it opened a door to the possibilities of what Asians in America could be. It amazed him how much technology has changed and how today is dubbed “a digital generation.” This does make me feel fortunate that anyone can post anything online, because it makes it easier for me to find someone with the same experiences as me, which I may have had a harder time finding through traditional media.

Basco shared his other stories but I loved how he mixed spoken word with his speech to talk about his life. This struck a chord with me because I admire someone who can write poetry and then articulate it so well that the words jump out and each sentence delivers a powerful meaning to the audience. I won’t go much into it, because it’s something that needs to be said. Check out more of his spoken word here!  

Basco advised aspiring poets to write about life because writers go out and live life and then write about their lives. Then they find their voice and deliver it on stage through a microphone.  I find his advice to be insightful since I enjoy writing poetry but most of the time I lack the inspiration to write a good poem because I don’t know what to write about. I don’t know why I am making it more complicated than it needs to be when I should just go with the flow and live life, because at the end of the day, poetry talks about life and life lives in poetry.

At the end of his talk, Basco answered questions from the audience. One of the questions was about what it was like working with Robin Williams in Hook. Williams was exactly what Basco expected him to be and more. Williams had this presence and could make magical things happen. He was and is the genie from Aladdin. It’s so fascinating that Basco worked with and got the chance to meet such an inspiring and talented actor. 

My perspective has been enriched from this experience and my younger self might not think much about it besides the fact that I got to meet a voice actor from great cartoons. We both got a chuckle that Basco said he hasn’t seen the live action movie which many believed to be poorly produced, however, we might love him more for that. 

Sherry is a senior at Purdue University majoring in professional writing and minoring in film. She plans on becoming a content writer or a copywriter, though she is also keeping her options open. She enjoys Youtube, her cat, Paisley, makeup, and writing.
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