Students got a sneak peek into the world of Hollywood when Performing Arts alumnus, actor and producer, David Alan Basche ’90 spoke about his career in the film and television industry, choosing the right scripts, and how the Emerson experience influenced his career.
Basche was interviewed by senior artist-in-residence, Ken Cheeseman at the Bright Family Screening Room, Paramount Center on Thursday. Later, the film Equity, which Basche produced and appeared in alongside his wife, Alysia Reiner, was screened for the students and faculty.
He starred on the TV Land sitcom, The Exes; USA’s The Starter Wife; and the NBC drama Lipstick Jungle. He’s appeared in the films Real Steel, The Adjustment Bureau, War of the Worlds, and Full Frontal.
He credited his teachers at Emerson for making him less self-conscious about his performances. Sharing an incident, Basche said he turned to his professor, the late Richard Toma, when he was unable to sing his lines for a stage adaptation of Look Homeward, Angel.
“The director wanted me to sing my lines, and I just couldn’t do it because I was terrified of singing and being judged by everyone,” Basche said. “After the rehearsal was cancelled twice because of my refusal to sing, I went to Richard Toma. He locked the classroom, and said that we will not leave this room until I sing. He said, ‘I am going to stand next to you like we are buddies and you are going to feel safe.’ I started to sing, then I started crying, but he wanted to continue singing.
“It was a huge moment for me. I felt a sense of safety. I trusted my professor, and had a great time at the show. I also learned that it is not about the lead, it’s about what you’re going to do with that role,” said Basche, who was initially furious that he didn’t get cast as the lead for this play.
When asked about his criteria for picking up an acting job, Basche said that the most important thing is what the story is, whether it will change the world, or is it something he really wants to do.
“If everything in the first criteria fits perfectly, then the other things don’t really matter. But, in case it doesn’t, then I look at who else is involved in the project, what this role would do for my career, will it stretch me as an artist, or what sort of other benefits are attached to this project,” added Basche.
Addressing the criticism that actors should not be political, or express their political leanings publicly, Basche said, “It’s a very interesting double standard because people want actors to make them laugh and cry and then shut up. It doesn’t work that way. When I am expressing my views, I am expressing my views as a human being and as a citizen of this country, not as an actor or as a celebrity.”
When Isabella Marano ’20, asked Basche about his transition to the industry from Emerson, he said that it wasn’t difficult because he felt well prepared.
“After college, when I started to get into theater, I felt I had a craft. My acting teachers at Emerson gave me a set of tools to take with me. The experience here prepared me well for a career in the arts. It also prepared me to be outspoken, and reach out to people to ask for help,” Basche added.