Interview: Bobby Del Rio

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Times are tough in the film and television industry when it comes to racial and cultural diversity. We live in a world where even in roles intended for non-Caucasians, Indian-born director M. Night Shyamalan casts white kids. It’s good, then, that we have some actors and producers working hard to change that.

Toronto-based actor and producer Bobby Del Rio brings political activism to his work, from his involvement with the ReelWorld film festival, which strives to showcase culturally diverse filmmakers, to his founding INCLUDE, an organization that helps find work in the film/television industry for visible minorities.

Among his recent productions is Sven (2011), a supernatural teen drama directed by David Rendall and starring Drake, which debuted last month. We heard Del Rio was an enormous basketball fan, and so we caught up with him for an interview.

BALLnROLL.com: Taking into consideration your work with ReelWorld and INCLUDE, how would you describe your career as a political activist? What drives you?

I’m very motivated by the notion of equality. I believe that every human being should be equal – regardless of skin colour, gender or age. I am very driven by my sense of fairness.

BALLnROLL.com: With recent productions like Sven and your involvement with the ReelWorld film festival, you’ve been gaining exposure. What was your experience with producing Sven like? What was like to work with Drake?

Sven was a great experience because I got to work with such a powerhouse group of actors. Drake, in particular, is one of the most driven and professional human beings I have ever met. It was always clear he was going to be a superstar. The only question was when…

BALLnROLL.com: You work in film, theatre and music. How do you feel your experiences with them differ from one another? Are you drawn to one more than another?

Bobby Del Rio: I find that my various artistic interests inform one another. Film and theatre are similar in that they are both collaborative art forms. Music is more singular, but helps me focus on performance. In any artistic pursuit, it is important to bring a breadth of experience to the project. With all my interests/experience, I feel that I bring a solid foundation into any artistic challenge I tackle…

BALLnROLL.com: Would you describe yourself as fashionable? What are some designers or looks that inspire you?

I think I take pride in my personal appearance, but I don’t consider myself a fashionista. At one point in my life, I actually considered going to school for fashion design – but it sounds really really hard… I’m more inspired by individuals than designers, so I look up to style icons like Johnny Depp and David Beckham… Lenny Kravitz is also pretty awesome.

BALLnROLL.com: What are some of your favourite designers?

Honestly, I don’t know enough about fashion to answer this effectively. I did respect the late Alexander McQueen though.

BALLnROLL.com: Working and living in Toronto, what do you think about the Raptors this year?

Well, in the post-Bosh era, I think it was pretty much expected we would suck. I had hoped our young core would perform a bit better, but hopefully a high draft pick (in a weak draft year) can help us… I’d love to end up with Kyrie Irving…

BALLnROLL.com: What are your thoughts on the playoffs so far?

It’s a year for upsets. The Spurs are struggling, and Orlando losing was a SHOCK! Even the Lakers haven’t been impressive. It’s anybody’s year…

BALLnROLL.com: Tell us one of your favourite stories involving the game.

I once got into a shit-talking session with Scott Speedman on the basketball court. We made up, and I really respect his game. He reminds me of vintage Richard Hamilton: Very fast, curls off screens, never gets tired…

BALLnROLL.com: What is some advice you can give aspiring writers, actors, and producers who want to break into the industry?

Don’t be afraid to be bold. This is the industry of getting attention. If you’re not afraid to fail, you can go anywhere…

I’m currently producing a short film for Canadian movie star Maria del Mar. She’s writing/directing. We shoot soonish…

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