‘Birds of Prey’ Actor Ella Jay Basco on Reinventing Herself as a Teen Pop Star With New Single ‘Bubble Tea’

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month arrives on Sunday, and Ella Jay Basco is celebrating with “Bubble Tea,” the latest single from her upcoming album.

Best known for her role as Cassandra Cain in the 2020 superhero film “Birds of Prey,” Basco got her start as a child actor in show’s like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Veep.” But after “Birds of Prey,” she began exploring music, releasing an EP “Middle School” when she was just 13. Half-Korean and half-Filipino, Basco often draws upon her heritage and culture when constructing her songs. One of her songs from her debut EP, “The Filipino Song,” describes the process of explaining her heritage to someone meeting her family for the first time. Another, “Nadu” (or “Me Too”) is sung entirely in Korean.

“I actually, unfortunately, don’t speak Korean, but I learned Korean for the song,” Basco tells Variety. “I love incorporating different pieces of my culture, the food and music, the dancing, everything into my career.”

Basco was inspired to write “Bubble Tea,” named after the popular Taiwan-created tea drink, from her experiences watching hangout kids films like “Little Rascals” and “The Goonies.” Basco wanted to capture that vibe in song, but focus on Asians and their experiences drinking bubble tea and making trips to Koreatown.

“It’s a summer anthem specifically for Asian kids,” Basco says.

After writing “Bubble Tea” quickly during December of last year, Basco took the song to her producer Casey Dunmore, and the two developed a dreamy pop sound inspired from artists like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. For the music video, Basco felt it was important to work with an Asian female director, and eventually worked with Bianca Catbagan. The two developed a concept for a vintage, home movie-style video showing Basco driving and exploring the streets of Los Angeles, skateboarding and eating Korean snacks. To play her friends in the video, Basco recruited her friends from her real life to give the video a completely authentic feel.

“I called a bunch of my friends who are Asian and I was like, ‘Hey, do you want to be in this music video? It’s gonna be super fun!'” Basco says. “It didn’t even feel like work. It honestly felt like I was just hanging out with my friends and they were they were just filming what we were doing.”

“Bubble Tea” will appear alongside the single “Eye to Eye” on Basco’s upcoming album. Basco is excited to expand upon her musical palette and explore her culture further. She’s also excited to drink a lot of bubble tea this summer.

“It depends on the day for me, personally” Basco says about her go-to bubble tea order. “Sometimes I can go for like a fruity or sweeter drink, and then on other days I really love the brown sugar milk teas that places have, and Thai tea, those are always good. And extra boba. You always have to get extra boba.”

Watch the full music video for “Bubble Tea” below.