In October 2009, thirteen-year old Alex Ko made his debut as the star in Broadway’s Billy Elliot, the first Asian-American Billy on Broadway. I had the good fortune to speak to him about his new exciting role.
Could you start out by telling us how a half-Chinese-American boy from Iowa ends up on Broadway?
My dance teacher invited me to go to NY. While I was taking classes at Steps on Broadway, Ray Hesselink saw me taking ballet classes during the week and asked me to audition for Billy Elliot.What do you think you bring to the role of Billy Elliot that makes your portrayal unique compared to the other four actors playing the part?
Well, we all portray the role differently. So, each one of us brings something different to each performance. For me, I’m the only Billy who really has lost a parent, so I think the letter scene feels a little different for me than for them acting the part.
How do you want to inspire boys (girls and adults too) in the audience, of all ethnicities, when you are on stage?
I really want people to know that no matter what their dream is, they should go for it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you a dream is stupid or you can’t reach it. If you can imagine it will happen, it can, with a lot of hard work.Do you think there will be more Asians in dance/Broadway/ballet in the future?
I definitely think so. Just look at Lea Salonga! (edited to add: Salonga is also known as the singing voices of Jasmine in Aladdin & Mulan) She is amazing and my favorite Broadway actress.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’m so proud to represent the Asian-Americans and be a Broadway Billy. I’m so glad the directors had the vision to cast the boy and not just ethnicity. It’s a great model.
Best of luck on Broadway, Alex!