Home / Columnists / Jovie Calma / Ross Butler of 13 Reasons Why Lifted Up Voices in the Arts and Entertainment #AAPI!

Ross Butler of 13 Reasons Why Lifted Up Voices in the Arts and Entertainment #AAPI!


By: Jovie Calma


It’s been months since 13 Reasons Why dropped the Netflix and take the world by storm. The show which follows the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), and why she committed suicide, has become the most tweeted show of 207.

Ross Butler, one of the actors who played the role “Zach” was one of the guests for the panel discussion on “ Lifting Up Voices in the Arts and Entertainment” hosted by the White House Initiatives on Asian American and Pacific Islanders held in Washington, D.C. This writer was privileged to be up close and personal with the actor and discussed the diversity trend and opportunities in Hollywood for Asian Americans. Ross Butler has been making a name for himself in teen dramas lately. The 26-year-old actor also happens to be an Asian-American. He was born in Singapore. His mother is Indonesian while his father is American/ British. Ross later moved to Virginia with his mother and, eventually, relocated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He has been acting in film and on television since 2012. Ross Butler has had a steady stream of acting roles most notably, he has been in Disney’s K.C. Undercover, Teen Wolf, Riverdale, and 13 Reasons Why. He plays a wealthy and entitled athlete named Zach Dempsey in the Netflix drama, 13 Reasons Why. Zach is named as one of the reasons for Hannah Baker’s death. His entitled nature causes him to be cruel to Hannah, further crushing her spirit. He also appeared on CW’s Archie Comics adaptation “Riverdale” as Reggie.

Ross Butler shared with this writer on how we discovered that there was a calling for him as an actor, “I think that was largely due to my mom, who wanted me to focus more on academics and go to engineering school. The month before I moved out to L.A., I was studying computer science at community college and doing homework in the kitchen, and I looked at my mom and said, “Mom, this is not what I should be doing- I feel like I need to be entertaining people.” She was like, “Okay, go back to doing your homework.” Then, a month later, I talked to my roommate who I still live with today- and moved out to L.A. It was this really weird, unique calling. I felt like I needed to change because I was mi serable doing what I was doing, and entertaining turned into acting.”

I’ve asked on his thoughts about Asian visibility in Hollywood and if it was ever intimidating to speak out, Ross shared, “Not really. I don’t want to be super aggressive, but I think it’s an issue that the population of America isn’t reflected accurately in a lot of movies. I’m just disappointed that there isn’t an Asian leading man or an Asian leading woman. There’s an obvious gap that should be filled. I’m an American, but I’m also Chinese. I was born overseas, and I was raised here, and I’m just a part of American culture. I would love to see that reflected in modern culture because I didn’t have that when I was growing up.” He also shared that in order to get the all-American parts he wanted, he had to stop going out for roles specifically written for Asians. Part of that was because most of the leading roles are not written for Asian men, and part of it is that Asian-Americans are still not perceived as Americans.

We also had a conversation on his dream role, “I would love to be Wolverine. It’s interesting, because when people asked me that a year ago, I used to say Dragon Ball Z. But I thought about it, and it’s kind of messed up because, of course- I’m Asian-American, and the only roles I could envision myself in were Asian roles. That is very telling of the generation I grew up in; there literally wasn’t any Asian superheroes or any Asian hero in general. So now I’m just like, no, I love Wolverine. He’s been my favorite hero ever since the claws and the old-school yellow-and-blue outfit. If the chance ever comes along to be Wolverine, that would be sick.”

13 Reasons Why was a huge hit. I’ve also asked Ross on what was the best reaction he has gotten after being on the show. “One of my friends from high school reached out on Facebook. I hadn’t talked to him in a while, but we were both in robotics club back in high school. He was really cool, and I always saw him as this really cheery guy. He reached out and he said, “Yo, I just watched your show. I just wanted to say that, first of all, really proud. You started in robotics and now here you are.” But he told me that he really related to the show because in high school he was depressed and had suicidal thoughts. I had no idea. That really opened my eyes and made me empathize with him. I always put this really happy front in high school. That made me feel really less alone myself and I know that it felt good for him to know that I felt the same way. That really hit me because that’s what we were trying to doget people to talk about it, and let them know that they’re not alone. It might be the last person that you expect to be feeling those feelings.” This writer asked Ross about the rumors of a second season, “I hope they’re true! I honestly don’t know. They haven’t told us anything, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Before I end my article this month, allow me to invite everyone to join us as we salute and recognize this year’s most deserving and distinguished awardees at the 23rd Chicago Filipino Asian American Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 14, 2017 to be held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel, 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue Rosemont, IL. 60018. For reservation and more information, please call: 773-866-0811. Special birthday wishes to Tito Danny Angeles (Oct. 9), Carmen Lainez (Oct. 9), Mommy Marie Zamora (Oct. 12), Girley Espino (Oct. 12), RJ Santos (Oct. 17), Nick Vera Perez (Oct. 20), Jan Nicole Alzol (Oct. 27), Tita Mila Alvarez (Oct. 31). Here’s to more loads of happiness and grand success! To all Via Times Readers and CPRTV viewers, thank you for your continued support. Until the next issue of Wassup?! Jovie Calma LIVE! God Bless Us All!


VT/CPRTV’s Jovie Calma’s up close and personal encounter with Ross Butler of 13 Reasons Why taken at the 2017 AAPI Youth Summit held in Washington D.C. #selfie


Ross Butler sharing his experiences on being in Hollywood at the AAPI Youth Summit


Jovie Calma was privileged and honored to represent her company at the Youth Summit hosted by the White House Initiatives on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders held at the Google’s Office in Washington D.C. #Fil-AmRepresent #AsianAmerican

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