Pinoy Pride gets celebrated anew as teen Filipino-American actress Ella Jay Basco makes her feature film debut as Cassandra Cain in the DC adventure “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” from Warner Bros.
Watch her greet and invite her kababayans to watch the film in the video below.
Cassandra Cain, at age 12, has learned to tough it out on the streets of Gotham. Cass, as she’s known, is a smart-mouthed kid surviving on her own—thanks in part to her uncanny knack for pickpocketing. But when she nicks a priceless gem, she becomes a target for real trouble, and it’ll take Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the full complement of Birds to save her.
In her feature film debut, newcomer Ella Jay Basco plays Cass, who also serves as the catalyst to unite Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey. Basco remembers, “When I read the script, I just loved Cassandra Cain. She’s a street girl without a family or a home, so she’s both really misguided and super independent. She has had to fight to survive in this world, until she meets Harley Quinn.” Basco also says that as soon as she learned she’d gotten the part, “I bought this big stack of Birds of Prey and Cassandra Cain comic books, and that definitely helped me understand who she is, but also develop the character as she is in the movie.”
In fact, it was a particular storyline in a comic that initially inspired Robbie to include the Harley/Cass relationship that ultimately plays out on screen. “In my research, I read Harley Quinn: Behind Blue Eyes, and I knew I wanted to explore that mentor-mentee relationship,” she recollects. “It told me a lot about who Harley was and what she was capable of. We didn’t use the exact storyline from the series, but just understanding her and her connection to Cass in that way was enlightening.”
Basco found Robbie and the entire cast, along with director Cathy Yan, to be great mentors. “It was honestly so exciting to work with all of them, they’re so inspiring,” she says. “Every day was a full-on learning experience, and so much fun. Everybody was super nice; it was like one long dream.” Due to the circumstances of the story, the young actress spent the bulk of her scenes alongside Robbie. “Margot was like a big sister to me, we had the best time with each other. She taught me so much about working with people on- and off-camera. It was amazing.”
Yan admired the hard work that her youngest actress put in. “Ella was so impressive,” she states. “This is her feature debut, so I can’t imagine how she must have felt to show up to set and work with Margot Robbie every day, but she was a total champ, incredibly mature for her age. And she really understood Cass and brought a certain authenticity to her—a real kid, not a shiny, perfect version of a little girl.”
Ella Jay Basco is quickly making a name for herself with her dramatic acting chops and ability to perform. Her credits include “Veep,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Teachers,” “Superior Donuts,” “Happyland” and the short film “Glimpse of Heaven.” Basco started her career at six months old in an Old Navy print campaign.
Outside of acting, Basco is a singer/songwriter and accomplished musician, playing the guitar, piano and ukulele. She is also a trained dancer. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her family.
“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” stars Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress; Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary; Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya; Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz; and Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis. Newcomer Ella Jay Basco also stars as Cassandra “Cass” Cain in her feature film debut.
Directed by Cathy Yan (“Dead Pigs”) from a script by Christina Hodson (“Bumblebee”), the film is based on characters from DC.
In Philippine cinemas Thursday, February 6, “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros. Pictures. Connect with #BirdsOfPrey and tag @wbphils and @warnerbros_ph