With the latest instalment in the Fast & Furious franchise releasing tomorrow, Leo Abelo Perry plays the role of Little Brian in Fast X, which saw him work with Vin Diesel as his on-screen father Dom Toretto, and the tenth Fast & Furious film was directed by Louis Leterrier. Last year, Leo played Chip in Beauty and the Beast : A 30th Celebration for ABC and Disney+, and he also starred in the Disney+ reboot of Cheaper by the Dozen as Luca, which was his first filming project. Leo’s other screen work has included playing 9-Year-Old Devante in an episode of Black-ish and Young Justin in The Big Leap for Fox, and he also hosted podcast series The Activators!. We caught up with Leo, who spoke about playing Little Brian in Fast X, being in the cast of Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration as Chip and filming as Luca in the Disney+ reboot of Cheaper by the Dozen.
In the new release of the tenth Fast & Furious film – Fast X, you can be seen playing Little Brian, how did you feel finding out you’d booked the role?
I felt amazing! My mom surprised me at school with the news, and I just couldn’t believe it. Still can’t sometimes. My basketball coaches got me cupcakes to celebrate that said Fast and Furious on them – they were delicious. 😃
What was it like meeting and filming with the rest of the cast, which includes Vin Diesel, who plays your on-screen father Dom Toretto?
Meeting and working with everyone in the cast was a dream. There was a hoop on set that we often played on in between scenes. Having that opportunity to just hang and play together was so fun and gave me the chance to get to know everyone a bit more.
How did you find the experience on set of the film and joining the Fast & Furious franchise?
The experience on set was full of learning and adventure. I learned how important it was to connect and learn from every department – stunts, costume, production, sound, HMU, etc. I loved all that time in between getting to know everyone behind the camera and learning how every role works together to create something beautiful. Louis (Leterrier) was the best leader and teacher and made it feel safe to ask questions and try different ways to get the action. The entire vibe was just like that of the actual movie – love, family, and adventure.
What are you looking forward to for the release of Fast X?
I’m so excited for everyone to watch the insane action and excitement with incredible locations! It’s definitely the most exciting, and most emotional, Fast film yet.
You played Chip in Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration for ABC and Disney+ last year, can you tell us about your time filming this role?
Playing Chip as part of this special edition of Beauty and the Beast was such a gift. I love singing and dancing and this was my first opportunity to work with an incredible team of dancers and musicians performing live in front of a studio audience.
What was Chip like to play and how was it getting into character and costume?
The costumes, hair, and makeup were absolutely stunning. The detail to make sure it looked like we were all humans from the 1800s dressed up as furniture is still mind-boggling to me. Getting in and out of the Chip cup costume (which had an actual ‘chip’ in it!) was a task that required a lot of hands to make sure the microphones’ wires, the costume, and my perfect pink/purple hair didn’t get messed up.
What did you enjoy most about being part of a musical television special?
Watching the practice and rehearsal magically transform to the live show was shocking. Made me think about all the work that goes on behind the camera to make a show, movie, and performance happen. Nothing gets done without everyone. We sing musicals almost every day – in the shower, in the car, washing the dishes – so to actually be IN one, is a pinch me moment.
Can you tell us about your character Luca in the 2022 Disney+ reboot of Cheaper by the Dozen and was there anything that drew you to the film?
Playing Luca on Cheaper was my first ever project. I was only seven and had never really acted before – still can’t believe I landed the opportunity, really. I LOVE the Steve Martin version and feel so lucky to have had the chance to play Luca, who I really connected to as a fun, goofy, and loving sibling in a chaotic household. I’m grateful for such a welcoming and safe place to have my first job with Miss Gail Lerner as the director too.
What are some of your favourite memories from filming for Cheaper by the Dozen and playing Luca?
The best part of filming Cheaper was hanging with all the cast, both on and off set. We danced, played chess, and just hung out together. Couldn’t have asked for a more amazing first opportunity.
How was it attending the red carpet premiere and what was it like watching the completed film for the first time?
My first red carpet premiere was so incredible. The entire process from what we wore to the on-carpet interviews was so fun, exciting, and honestly kind of nerve-racking. I remember I dug my hands in my pockets and kept thinking, ‘where should I put my hands? Am I posing correctly?’. I’m a huge basketball fan so one of my core memories was meeting Miss Gabby’s (Union) husband, Dwyane Wade too. The entire night was just entirely unforgettable.
You appeared in an episode of Black-ish last year as 9-Year-Old Devante, how was this?
We’re huge Black-ish fans in our house so to book even just this small role was such a fun experience. I remember some of the crew found out I had just finished Cheaper with Miss Gail and they all were so happy and full of love for her and her work. I just remember feeling very lucky to be part of such a beautiful family both on and off the camera at Black-ish.
What do you remember most from playing Young Justin in The Big Leap for Fox?
This was my first project in a different city, and I loved the adventure of it all – I couldn’t believe we got to travel and perform. As Young Justin, I worked with amazing choreographers and dancers and got the incredible opportunity to dance on TV, something I thought would never happen.
How did you get into acting and was it something you always wanted to do?
I was maybe five years old when I remember watching a TV show and wondering – “are those people actually IN the TV? Can I be IN the TV?”. I didn’t think I’d actually get the chance to be on TV but I’m grateful for the many, MANY people who have helped me along the way. I’d never be a kid who acts unless for the support of just so many people. I guess it’s a combination of good humans, hard work, and a lot of luck! I don’t know if acting is something I’ve always wanted to do but I know after Fast and learning so much more about the making of a project, I’m more interested than ever to continue performing. That, and be an NBA player. 😃
We understand you hosted the podcast The Activators!, can you tell us about this and about some of the guests you interviewed?
The Activators! is a kid podcast about activism that we created with the great company A Kids Company About. During COVID and the height of BLM protests, I started something called Dance for Justice where I danced every day for a year to raise awareness and funds to support racial justice. We met a lot of young leaders who were already doing such incredible work to make the world a better place that when A Kids Company About approached us, we were excited to shine a bigger spotlight on their work and hopefully inspire other kids to ‘do what they love, to spread more love’. I loved to dance and racial justice is really important to me. Other interviewees loved to read, perform, juggle a soccer ball and all paired their love to raise awareness around an issue that mattered to them, like book deserts, LGBTQIA+ rights, and childhood cancer research. I hope kids and their families listen to the podcast and feel inspired to move, play, and create to help make the world full of more love.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your free time?
Some of my favourite films and TV shows are the usuals – Harry Potter, all The Avengers (except for a few that I won’t name), as well as some ‘older shows’, that we all watch together like Seinfeld, Parks and Rec, and my favourite movie of all time – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In my free time, I love playing sports, especially basketball, baseball, and tennis. Sometimes golf. Playing cards with family. And singing with my friends.
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
2022 was such an epic year that I’m so grateful to have experienced. I hope 2023 is full of continued adventures with more good humans.
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Categories: Film & TV, home, Interview, Young Performers
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