The ‘Birds of Prey’ actress and Bay Area rapper talk about how the video will highlight the negative consequences of the skin whitening industry while also emphasizing the importance of loving one’s own identity, both inside and out.
Birds of Prey actress Ella Jay Basco and rapper Ruby Ibarra have launched their Asian self-love music video “Gold” ahead of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Basco appears in a 1950s black-and-white advertisement for a “Color Be Gone” skin whitening soap that promises to “wash the brown away.” After hearing the possible side effects of using the soap, such as “complicity” and “inauthenticity,” the model played by Basco starts to panic halfway through the ad.
Basco cleans her face to expose a swatch of color skin and is released into a technicolor world where she sings about enjoying one’s identity and skin color as the advertising crew begins to pack up. “I’m coated in gold from head to toe / And I know and I know that I’m going to crack the mold / When you grow to love your true reflection yeah / Then you’ll really be rich with a gold complexion,” Basco sings. “I look around and I wonder if I’m good enough / So what’s good enough if I don’t love myself enough,” Ibarra raps about identity crisis and self-confidence.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Basco and Ibarra about how the video would uplift the Asian culture, bring attention to the negative effects of the skin whitening industry, and highlight the importance of loving one’s own face, both inside and out.
Ella Jay says being surrounded by “a bunch of sexy, powerful, badass women in my life” while writing “Gold” with her brother Darryl J. Basco and Ibarra was a crucial inspiration for the lyrics.
“My family, we have so much pride in our heritage and who we are. We love our food and our skin tone. We love everything about our culture,” Basco says, who is half Korean and half Filipino. “I really wanted to write a song about loving our identity and not caring about what other people say because of that.” The actor and singer adds that the trio also wanted to create a song “that enlightened people with a message that showed our beautiful Brown golden skin and embraced our culture.”
Ibarra, a Filipino rapper whose previous hits “Us” and “Here” touch on her heritage and immigrant experiences, adds that she was proud to participate in the video and hopes those who listen take away “how beautiful individuality and identity are, especially during these times.”
“Gold” was directed by Leslie Alejandro and produced via her Alejandro Films banner, Palms Up Academy, and Team Basco, and filmed at EVS Studios in Glendale with a fully Asian, predominantly female team in front of and behind the camera. Wardrobe for the video was provided by Filipina designer Vinta Gallery.
Throughout the music video, there are visuals of family home videos, as well as news clippings of violence against the Filipino community and a photo of a building with the words “Positively No Filipinos Allowed” written on a wall. Basco says the all-Asian team for “Gold” wanted to show images that “not only showed our pride and our culture, but put a light on what has happened to our community.”
At the end of “Gold,” a fact about the skin whitening industry appears, noting that by 2027 it is projected to be worth over $24 billion dollars, according to Cision PR Newswire.
“In the beginning of the video, in the 1950’s commercial, we tap into how messed up that culture is because they’re making billions of dollars telling girls and young women and just people in general to lighten their skin to be more socially accepted,” Basco tells THR. “I hope that when people watch this, they understand how messed up the skin and skin lightening industry is… When people watch those beginning scenes and how uncomfortable it might be for some of us, I hope that they can understand a little bit of what we’ve been experiencing.”
Ibarra agrees, and adds, “The colonial mindset is deeply rooted in many of our cultures, especially in immigrant communities like ours. When we first arrive in this land, many of us are told that we must fully assimilate. They are forced to abandon their history and identity.”
Both artists believe that releasing the video a day before Asian Pacific American Heritage Month will send a “beautiful message” to their culture, which has seen a spike in hate crimes over the last year. Though it has been difficult to see ignorance and hatred in the past year, both for Asian-Americans and the Black community, Ibarra hopes that “Gold” will “boost consciousness, remind people just how beautiful identity is.”
“I think that’s ultimately what America is about, having different music and sounds and stories and voices,” Ibarra says.
Source: Hollywood Reporter