Interview Alex Ko, the Billy Elliot in a Broadway Musical

By Gai DaGai

Alex Ko was born in 1996 of February. Ever since Alex Ko was little he loved to sing, dance and act. At the age of five Alex Ko won National Regional Dance and Gymnastic championship title. At age thirteen, Alex Ko won the role to be Billy Elliot in a Broadway musical. Alex Ko was also the youngest student admitted to The University of Iowa Department of Dance under Iowa talented and gifted law. It was never easy to achieve those titles and special programs, especially after losing his father to liver cancer at the age of eleven. But with hard work and dedication, Alex Ko made his family and his father proud.

Becoming an actor, dancer, and singer at such a young age is incredible! Were there any moments were you thought you weren’t going to make it?

I love dancing, acting and singing but yes, there were times when it seemed like it would be tough to become Billy Elliot.  During the audition process, I would think they liked me, but when they didn’t call right away, I’d worry they found somebody else for the part.  After I found out I got the part, I was so excited and always knew it would happen.

Achieving so much at such a young age, do you think you enjoyed your childhood?

I can’t imagine having a different childhood.  I mean, I wish I hadn’t lost my dad when I was little, but that was in God’s hands not mine.  So I did the best I could and worked hard to do well and I was really lucky that I was in the right place at the right time and that preparedness met opportunity.  I think it all worked out the way it was meant to be.  Being on Broadway is a lot different than being a well known movie or tv star.  I had my privacy much of the time and didn’t really feel any different than usual.

What did it mean to you and your family when you were chosen to become Billy in “”Billy Elliot the Musical,” on Broadway?

It was crazy!  I was so excited, but my mom wasn’t going to move the family to NYC unless she found a really good job in what she does.  We were all really lucky because she found out she got a great job at CUNY when I was offered the part.  So we moved to NYC and have really enjoyed being here.

What pull you through the hard times esp. finding out that your father, Cheukman Sam Ko, had liver cancer? What kept your family together?

My dog, Ming Ming, was a huge comfort.  But really, my family is all very close and my dad had the strongest faith in God that you could ever imagine.  We had a lot of community support and support from our church.  I was happy my dad was going to Heaven but it was hard to have to learn to live without him here on Earth.

What are some things you would like to do in your future?

I definitely want to act some more.  But I really want to make sure that I know all sides of the business.  I want to know how to make a great film or show and be on a creative team.  Hopefully, I can do it all!

Many individuals want to become a singer, an actor, or a dancer. What advice would you give them?

Don’t give up!  Train as much as you can from the best trainers/teachers you can find.  Don’t let anybody’s criticism keep you down.  I remember when one of my coaches told me I’d never have the right body type for something I wanted to do – it only made me want to work harder and succeed.  Believe in yourself, in your dreams, put in the necessary work, and enjoy your life’s experience.  We can’t control the future.  We don’t really have control over that.  But we can control our life each day we live it and that helps!

Your book came out on April 30th, who would you recommend to read it?

My book came out and I’m so excited you have no idea!  I know HarperCollins is so excited to share this with Glee fans and anyone interested in theater or dance.  But I want my message of faith and never giving up your dreams to be shared with anyone – even adults.  I hope this book gives people the confidence and courage to really go for their goals.

What was your inspiration for dancing?

My older brother John was my introduction to dancing and dance competitions.  At first, my mom took me to dance class and I hated it!  But I would dance around the house all the time so she took me back to try again and I never stopped.  It was just something that helped me feel good when I felt bad about my dad being sick and especially after he died.  It’s hard to explain.  When I dance I go into a zone where I can just express my life without words and just “feel” and “be.”

What do you want people know of you?

I want people to know I had a dad named Cheukman Sam Ko.  I want people to know I want to help others learn the lesson he taught me to believe in myself and work hard in anything you do.  He also taught me to get the best education possible because nobody can ever take that away from you.

You can catch Alex Ko at Barnes & Nobles on Thursday May 09, 2013 5:30 PM (82nd & Broadway
2289 Broadway, New York) discussing his moving story detailed in his new memoir Alex Ko: From Iowa to Broadway, My Billy Elliot Story.

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