Asher Book stars in the forthcoming reboot of movie classic, Fame. Having caught the acting bug at an early age, he is now singing and dancing while adjusting to life in the spotlight.
When the remake of Fame comes out this fall, the factoid you’re most likely to find out about star Asher Book is that he attended one of the real-life “Fame” academies in New York City. But the 20 year-old acting/singing/dancing triple-threat’s life has been movie-like in other ways, too. Imagine, for a moment, that you are watching the film version of Book’s life. We open on a farmhouse in the Virginia horse country. Seven year-old Asher Book runs into the kitchen: He’s just heard about an open call for the role of “Chip” in the national touring production of Beauty and the Beast. He begs his mother to take him to the audition. “I mean, I didn’t even know what an audition was,” Book recalls. “Mom put me off for a while. But I kept pressing her…”
Cut to: A casting office. Nervous little kids pace the hallway, running lines. All over the United States, this scene has repeated itself; a national talent search is underway. Enter Asher Book, total amateur.
“I was like, what am I doing?” comments Book. “Some of those kids – there must have been 70 or 80 trying out that day – were walking around in tuxedos. I’m in shorts.”
He laughs. And Asher Book can laugh, because what happened next is so cliché, a modern-day movie scribe would be embarrassed to write the scene. Except, of course, it happens to be true.
“I got the part,” Book says, matter-of-factly. “They offered it to me on the spot.”
Welcome to the wonderful world of Asher Book. This is a cynicism-free zone – a place where one must simply accept that the outsider with no chance got his big break in a Disney musical thanks to nothing other than talent and moxie. He has grown up to be polite and appreciative of the opportunities he has been given. “I’ve never felt sorry that I missed out on a ‘typical’ childhood. All those years I was on the road, playing Chip, I had so much fun. I got to see all these new places, and there were always kids around.”
Lean and good-looking, Book considers his current day job as a member of the boy band V Factory with an enthusiasm generally reserved for kids on a first trip to Disney Land. “We just wrapped recording on the first V Factory album. That was really fun. And we shot our first music video – that was super-fun, too.” The band is made up of other similarly enthusiastic performers who have backgrounds in theatre and film, and if they are successful Book could be setting himself up for a long spell of accomplishment (If other Disney alum, Justin Timberlake, is anything to go by – who went from Mouseketeer to *NSYNC to international heartthrob). But living the life of a stage star has not affected Book’s upbeat attitude. “I love being on the road,” he says, “but I really love it when I have the chance to be home in L.A. for a while. I’m closer to my family and my friends. I can get my guys together and play basketball. Sometimes we play tackle football, too, ten-a-side. I like to stay active.”
Normally, this is the kind of thing to make a grown woman want to down a bottle of Absinthe and carve “Ian Curtis lives” on her thigh with a straight-razor. But Book has a way of bringing out the 13 year-old girl in a person. Which of course makes him perfectly suited to his V Factory gig, and to his role as the happy-go-lucky Marco in Fame. “I love him, because he’s a happy guy,” says Book. “He’s smiling through the whole movie. He just wants to sing.”
Book notes that the original Fame film – which the new version updates, but does not duplicate – was a must-see when he was in school. “Well, we’d talk about it all the time, but it wasn’t my favorite movie or anything,” he recalls. “Then, when this part came up, I re-watched it and loved it. I totally got it, you know, the whole story of these kids at a performing arts school, trying to master their crafts. It’s called Fame,” he adds, “but ‘fame’ isn’t really the point. It’s about having a passion to create – to act, to dance, to sing.”
That’s a theme Book, who describes himself as still coming to terms with the realities of his own emerging celebrity, could readily identify with. “I guess…the marketing people or whoever, they’re trying to position me as a teen idol or something,” Book acknowledges, a hint of ambivalence creeping into his voice for the first tine. “They’re definitely getting my face out there more. And, like, at a show we did in L.A. recently, there were girls lined up with signs like, ‘Asher, Will You Marry Me?’” But as quickly as the ambivalence appears, it fades even faster.
“So that’s super-flattering, obviously,” Book adds. “I mean, things are pretty awesome for me right now. I’m going on tour, looking at scripts, trying to bust out that second single. It’s all good.”
Photography: Paul Maffi
Fashion: Way Perry
Words: Maya Singer
A full version of this article first appeared in Wonderland #19, Sep/Oct 2009