So What Does It Feel Like To Be Celebrity?
Friday, June 15, 2007
This is one of the questions I’m asked most from people I meet. Its a bit of a bit strange to me sometimes because most of the times I don’t feel like one, a celebrity, that is. See, I come from a very little town and a very big family. From as far as I can remember I’ve been performing at town functions and in the streets in the Bay Area, breakdancing, rapping and singing with a hat out for change and even battling the guy watching from the crowd looking to take me out. I came to L.A. with my brothers and began to work, now twenty years later, I meet people, a lot of great people, who appreciate the things I’ve done and who even admit to me that they grew up with me and the characters I’ve played. I’m awfully thankful for all the blessings I’ve had in this town, I know personally how hard it is to make a living in this town and I’ve seen this town break more then a handful of hearts. And I too have been through my ups & downs… No one in this town gets out without having their own “True Hollywood Story”.
I somehow managed to work steadily throughout the years and the longer you stick around Hollywood the more you see the successful ones are a motley crew of the survivors, those who survived what Hollywood had to give, the good and bad, and managed to stay here and make it work. Now, when it comes to celebrity status, well, its kinda like going back to high school and being popular. To a big degree, as silly as it seems, the celebrities are like the popular kids in town. The weird thing is some cats around town are just “Hollywood” famous, simply meaning they’re cool in this town and at the hottest clubs yet outside of this Hollywood world, they might not be recognized in a crowd. And furthermore, things change a lot in this town, those who are popular now can be all but forgotten in a year.
The best analogy I could make about being famous is, it’s like if your from a small town and you leave, then come back for the holidays, you don’t want to do anything stupid when your at the local market cause you know people are watching and it might just get back to your mom. That’s kinda how it feels like to be famous, only your small town becomes more like everywhere or anywhere you may be recognized. Especially if your an ethnic actor like myself, your whole community is so proud of you and your accomplishments and feel like your apart of their family, but sometimes have preconceived ideas about how you should be or act.
I guess its sort of strange if I think of it but this has been apart of my life for so long I forget about it most of the times. I’m only reminded of it when I hang out with new people in my life and how they react to it. Sometimes fame works out in my favor, like people hooking you up or giving you deals, buying you a drink or what not, and sometimes it may work against you like people you don’t know wanting to get into involved conversations or wanting to take that picture at the most uncomfortable times. But I have to say, most the people I have met have been really sweet, giving me a compliment and taking a quick pic.
I have friends I’ve worked with that have become very famous and I know that they have had many problems with the gossip rags and all the things that kind of media makes up. That does seem like a big problem, but for those of us who in this business know that it’s just apart of this business, like it or not and the higher your star rises the more of that sort of thing you may have to deal with. But if your making millions, it may be the price you have to pay.
As far as my fame goes its kinda different cause I’ve been around for so long and have done so many different things that I have a bunch of different kind of fans. First there’s Rufio, this character in Steven Speilberg’s “Hook”. This is the film that put me on the map for a lot of people. I actually started my acting career five years before that when I was ten and the real Dante Basco buffs have seen my real early credits. But I must here the Rufio chant on average at least once a day when I’m out in public. I mean in a lot of ways Rufio is an icon in his own right and means a lot to a whole generation of kids, especially the misunderstood bad asses and skaters. There’s a popular rock band named after him and even inspired development of the animated characters I play, Prince Zuko form Avatar and The American Dragon: Jake Long. Then there’s all the independent films I’ve done who that have become cult classics like But I’m a Cheerleader and Fakin Da Funk. I’ve been told I’m one of the most recognizable asian actors in America. I don’t know, maybe I am. Looking back at the 90’s and early 2000’s people will have to say I did my thing.
The funny thing about fame is, a lot of the time people recognize you but can’t quite remember from where, most of the time they think they went to school with you, sometimes I just agree with them and keep it rollin.
So… I guess that’s how it feels to be famous, at least for now.