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Asher Angel | Because the Eye of That Storm Has an Intriguing Sparkle

Via Issue 184, The Tempest Issue, Out Now!

Photographed by

David-Simon Dayan

Styled by

Gorge Villalpando

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Fables and superhero films alike tell us that the arc of a story happens within the eye of the storm. Amidst the crescendo of action, a character comes into their own, begging questions like: who can they become beyond the ordinary? Or, do they dare risk their lives for the sake of the world? 

Any explosive crescendo needs its humble tap root, of course, its origin story. The origin story functions as the calming device before the chaotic whirlwind—it reveals the humble foundation of the titular superhero, the elements that make the superhero the most human, the most in sync with us. Actor Asher Angel’s origin begins in the here and now. An incandescent twenty-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, Angel’s demeanor espouses his enthusiasm. Discussing his recent projects, the actor is all ever-present smiles and animated hand gestures, eagerly including details about his production company. 

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Most notably, Angel has garnered applause for his performance as young Billy Batson in Shazam!, which has enjoyed positive reviews. Soon, he will star as James in Hulu’s young adult fantasy exclusive, Darby and the Dead. Amidst all that is going on, it is clear that Angel finds it within himself to not turn from the tempest, but to embrace it. “It would be cool to see, 10 years from now, where I am and how my perspective has changed and grown,” he says. “The unknown of what the future holds is what some people call scary, but it's equal parts exciting.”

For most of the Shazam! storyline, Angel’s character Billy Batson counters the childlike wonder in Zachary Levi’s portrayal of the boy-turned-adult superhero. Unlike Billy Batson’s clumsy grasp on his newfound abilities, Angel captains his time and care to advance his performance. “It’s been three years since I’ve last played Billy, and he is nothing like the character I played in the first film,” Angel shares. “He’s an everyday kid, and he doesn’t know what’s going to happen when he turns 18—he is just trying to figure it out. I made sure to deep dive into the feeling of not knowing what the future holds. That’s how I feel right now.”

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As Angel looks back, he tries to settle on the pivotal moment that acting became second nature. Was it acting opposite Jessica Chastain’s debut in Jolene? Influential, but not the critical point of acquiescence. In truth, Angel’s point of entry into acting was through the theater stage. It was there where, he reckons, an immediate connection began. And soon after, he took a flight to Los Angeles for a pilot season and booked guest star slots and a lead role on Disney Channel’s, Andi Mack. “When people look up at the big screen and relate to you—that’s your goal as an actor,” Angel says, “It’s okay to have insecurities and embrace them. Because we’re all human, we all have flaws. For all the people who see themselves in my peers and I, we see you and we love you.”

It may help that wherever Angel goes, his family is always there too. He jokes that his dad might become the star of the family, as he does a “pretty good job” at bouncing around lines with him. His family tethers him to the ground no matter where his job takes him. In addition to acting, Angel now sees himself playing a larger role at the production company he has started with his parents. 

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Angel emits a laugh when we chat about how his 16-year-old self donned the cap of the unreliable narrator, a lovestruck teenager, with the romantic love variable gone awry, and he is now helming a production company, even branching off deeper into creating music. If you search ‘Asher Angel’ on YouTube, you’ll find music videos of a boy whose music was not yet fully lived in. He reminisces, “Now that I’m older, I’ve experienced things. Before it was hard because I didn’t have a say in my music because I was so young. Now, I get to make the music I want to make. I love it even more because of that. I’m staying true to myself. It connects with me and I’m hoping it connects with the rest of the world,” he says. 

Despite the seeming effortlessness of Angel’s career thus far, he does wrestle with the whispers of forced creative output. His 2019 hit “One Thought Away” found immediate traction on YouTube, but since then, he has yet to release new music. Angel says that for him, the calm lies in sitting and ruminating with a character or a song like a slow-burn. Never sacrificing industry urgency over quality. And most importantly, remaining true to himself. “The project that I’ve been working on, I’ve been sitting with for some time,” he says. “It’s funny because you sit with something for a long time, and a month will pass by, and I’ll ask, ‘how can I make this better?' It’s pivotal to take that recovery time. If I rushed into it, I wouldn’t have the mindset that I have now. For a character, you need that. For music, you especially need that. When you’re playing a character, you are playing someone else. I’m trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes and be them. With my music, it’s my entire identity.” 

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In a sense, Angel's de facto acting school was being surrounded by film greats. In Shazam! Fury of the Gods, he is acting alongside icons Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu. Completely transfixed, he hungers for learning. “There’s always something to learn from those around you. Being on set with Zach, Lucy, Helen, my peers, I am constantly observing and listening,” he admits. 

One’s twenties are chronicled as a time where we must grapple with the in-between, not yet the fully formed blueprint of the adult we drafted up in our late teens…but not hand-in-hand with naiveté anymore, either. In a sense, the early twenties are the storm itself. Angel is amidst it all, but he embraces the unknowingness, analogous to his vibrant smile that reads Bring it on, I’m just getting started.

PRADA jacket, shirt, pants, and shoes, G-SHOCK watch, and VESPA scooter.

Photographed by David-Simon Dayan
Styled by Gorge Villalpando
Written by Jasmine Rodriguez
Grooming: Nathaniel Dezan at Opus Beauty
Flaunt Film: Tyler-Marie Evans
Styling Assistants: Chloe Cussen, Cameron Garcia, and #AdrianaFarias
Vespa Scooter Primavera 150 Nero Convinto Courtesy of Vespa Los Angeles

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