Cheaper By The Dozen is now streaming on Disney+ and we got to talk to Leo Abelo Perry who stars as Luca Baker!
Blackish star, Leo Abelo Perry, co-stars beside Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff as “Luca Baker” in the remake of the 2003 family comedy Cheaper By The Dozen. This hilarious and uplifting story showcases the Bakers, a multicultural family of 12, who navigate through a chaotic home life, while also running their family business. Compared to its predecessor, this remake brings on a modernized look at a blended diverse family. Cheaper By The Dozen is set to premiere on March 18, exclusively on Disney+
BSCKids: Leo, tell us a bit about how you got the role as Luca Baker in Cheaper By The Dozen.
Leo Abelo Perry: Gah! This is my first acting job ever, so landing this opportunity is kinda a mystery! I have a fantastic team, so I couldn’t have gotten this far without Annet McCroskey and CeCe Allen at Artistic Endeavors. Maybe the casting and our director, Miss Gail Lerner saw that I could dance and were like, “Luca dances in the movie too, so how about Leo?”. I’m not sure exactly how I got it, but I know that I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I still can’t believe it’s happening!
Did you get a chance to watch the original before you started filming?
I did! My mom and I watched the ones with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, and they’re so funny! It was so weird to watch and wonder – which character am I (kind of) playing until I realized our version was completely different.
Were there any funny behind-the-scenes stories that you can share with us?
Every day on set was just so much fun. One time Zach Braff was hanging out on the stairs reading a newspaper and I just sat next to him. We started talking about life. He’s the best. Journee Brown, who plays “Deja”, and I would always have contests on how many mints we could eat each day. One time Mykal-Michelle Harris, who plays my twin, “Luna”, and I choreographed our dance to ‘Time of my Life’ and recorded it in-between takes on the Paramount lot. Oh, and we got to play a lot of basketball. One day, the cast and crew got to play four on four with each other. I love basketball, so that was one of the best days on set. These aren’t very funny – do they still count?
What did a regular day on set look like?
A regular day on-set looks like eating, school work, act, school, act, and more eating. I love food! The cast of kids and I got to hang out while we were filming, but we had to be pretty focused, because there’s so much happening on set. Before you go on-set, you have to get your hair and makeup done, and then head to the wardrobe. Once that’s all done, it’s a back and forth between school and set and CRAFTY! All the food and snacks I could ever ask for. I also lucked out, because many of the crew let me hang out with them, the video engineers, props, production, and costume. So any time in between when I didn’t have to go to school, I was hanging out with props or the production team. They’re all the best.
Did you learn anything from Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff during filming?
Did I learn anything?! Oh my gosh, yes. I learned from everyone. I learned a lot about everyone’s journeys and how they got to where they are. I think the coolest thing I learned was how Ms. Gabrielle Union worked so hard and how she is using her platform to raise awareness for so many essential things in the world. I learned about Zach Braff’s and his journey and how maybe I should try musical theater-like him. I also learned where to stand (on your ‘mark’), what to do in between takes, and why or how to act in different scenes. They were the best “set” parents ever.
Where would you like to see yourself in the industry in 5 years?
Oh, that’s a good question. I’d be grateful if I’m still able to work in the next 5 years. In this industry, you need to learn how to work hard for opportunities, but sometimes those opportunities just don’t work out. That’s okay but it is important to still be grateful for any chances considered. So I guess if there was a role that combined dancing, singing, and basketball like High School Musical, that would be amazing. Being a theatre junkie, I love Hamilton, West Side Story, In the Heights, and Newsies. If in five years I could just be part of a theatre project like these, it would be amazing. I also see myself writing my own show, I have a lot of amazing ideas I’d love to share with the world.
Please tell us a bit about your podcast. How did you get it started and have you had any guests on it so far?
For sure! I host a podcast called, The Activators in partnership with a fantastic company, A Kids Company About. In 2020, my mom and I attended several Black Lives Matter protests, which inspired me to start something called Dance for Justice. I danced every day for a year to raise money and awareness around racial justice. We are so grateful, because Dance for Justice went viral and got a lot of support; even by people like Lin-Manuel Miranda who retweeted my Dance for Justice video where I was dancing to “My Shot”. Because of all of the support, I raised over $20,000 for Black Lives Matter and other nonprofits that focus on the arts, music, and sports to inspire and educate kids all around the globe. At one point, my mom and I hosted a talent show, where my friends performed and used their platform to talk about an issue that mattered to them. It made us wonder what else we could do to celebrate kids, who are doing what they love, to spread more love. A Kids Company reached out to us and asked to see if I would be interested in hosting a podcast about social activism. So over the past year, we’ve hosted ten amazing episodes, interviewing kid activists, who do what they love and that spreads more love. So many kids are doing such incredible work, and I feel very lucky that we were able to learn about their efforts on raising awareness on gender equality, social justice, and environmentalism. We highlighted their stories and their work of how they are changing the world. Be on the lookout for the second season, which is coming out soon.
What would you say your favorite thing is about podcasting?
I like the opportunity it gives me to have a conversation with everyday people who I may have never met if it wasn’t for the podcast. I get to learn from them and feel inspired. In each 15-minute interview, I learn so much and always feel motivated to do more. I know podcasts aren’t super popular among kids, but working with a group like A Kids Company About is pretty incredible.
Tell us something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m half South African, from the Zulu tribe, actually. I also love to sing, go to school, and play sports like soccer and basketball.
What is your favorite Disney movie of all time and why? (Besides this one)
I’m not very good at picking one favorite, because there are sooo many I like. Currently, my favorite Disney movies are The Lion King and Hamilton. I also like all The Avengers movies, especially Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Dr. Strange.
Why should everyone stream Cheaper By The Dozen?
This movie is just so fun and relatable. Nowadays there are more modern families that are blended and some with different races and cultures. They may not have 11 kids like our movie, but they can relate to the dynamics of the Baker family in the film. It is a movie any kid can watch with their grownups and be like, ‘I know what that feels like.’ Oh, and there’s basketball, dancing, and dogs! Who doesn’t love that?
Thanks to Leo for taking the time to speak with us!