Most would never think that moving to Southeast Asia as a black expat would yield unique entertainment opportunities but for Dezmon Landers that’s how the story has unfolded.
Landers moved to Thailand in 2016 to explore more of the world and establish a business presence in Asia Pacific. Since that time, he has been fortunate enough to participate in 2 major streaming releases for Netflix and Apple TV+.
He first caught the entertainment bug back in 2019 with his wife Maria. They hosted Thailand’s largest black casting party at The Entrepreneurship Center for Spike Lee’s Netflix classic Da 5 Bloods. The special event provided an opportunity for black and brown people from across the region to gain work in a high-profile movie production.
As Landers remarked, “The casting party was a great chance to help people of color in Thailand get small but meaningful acting roles and break into the industry. We’re very proud of the work we did in organizing the event and accomplishing that goal.”
During this time, Landers made many long-term friendships with those that worked in TV and film. One of those relationships provided him with the opportunity to play an extra in Zac Efron’s latest movie – The Greatest Beer Run Ever.
“I received a call from a good friend I met a few years ago,” Landers said. Her name came across my phone and all I could do was smile. I didn’t even know she’d be connecting us with another opportunity.”
The role was to play a background soldier in the Vietnam War. Shooting took place in Chiang Dao (Northern Thailand) and weather conditions were quite challenging. Cast and crew alike fought through heat and torrential rain to ensure all necessary scenes were completed.
Next, Landers was asked if he’d like to work in Bangkok to further support the film, he graciously accepted.
Landers’ first day on set was mostly quiet. He was asked to stand by his phone and wait for a call when the crew was ready to have him film.
“It was great, the staff was amazing, food was abundant and I felt very supported. At the same time, I felt a bit confused and unworthy. Just a few days ago, I was in the background with a big community of battlemates. Then suddenly, I’m working with professionally trained actors. It was a good reminder that even if you’ve made progress in one industry, it doesn’t always transfer to another.”
Over the next few days, Landers would participate in 3 different scenes during the day and at night with the primary cast members overlooking the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok.
As a close to the experience, the Landers family threw their own movie screening and premiere in Northern Thailand.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever is currently playing in theaters and also available on Apple TV+.