By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
A longtime Barrhaven resident is now making it big in Hollywood.
Elle Mills, who launched her successful YouTube career in the neighbourhood, has recently directed the “Doppelgänger” music video for Disney star Joshua Bassett, best known for his role in High School Musical: The Musical The Series.
Mills, 23, now calls California home and is settling into her new lifestyle. Earlier this year she wrote and produced a short film called Reply, which is expected to make the film festival rounds this summer. It premiered during a private screening in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.
Mills met Bassett, 21, through a mutual friend who starred in the former Barrhaven residents short film. She said they met for coffee a few weeks ago and two days later got a message asking her to come on board with the project.
“He just texted me ‘hey, would you be down?’” Mills recounted on a recent Twitch stream days after the premiere. “We did get coffee two days before that and we were just talking about what we want to do in the future of our careers, and we talked about how much one day we’d love to work together.”
Mills said Bassett was a fan of her YouTube videos and that paths easily connect in Hollywood. He also watched her recent short film and appreciated how it was filmed.
Much of the crew from Reply also worked on “Doppelgänger”, noted Mills.
The music video, released a week ago, has now garnered over 1.4 million views.
“Doppelgänger” is Bassett’s first new track of 2022 and offers raw emotions over moving on after a breakup.
The 21-year-old co-directed the music video which is based on real-life accounts from the singer’s love life.
“The song poured out of me immediately after seeing someone who I thought was my ex at a coffee shop,” Bassett said in a statement. “Sucker punched in the heart, I realized I’m not quite as over them as I thought, and that no one, not even a look-alike, could ever take their place.”
The song, with its corresponding music video, paints a picture of the different stages of emotions Bassett felt in the moment. It starts with the singer walking into a coffee shop and cuts to better moments from the past, before it’s downfall.
“The truth is no one’s like you/And a heart cannot be lied to,” Bassett sings at the end. “A look alike could never take your place.”
Mills said the music video took two days to film and was amazed watching Bassett and the other actors immediately go from one emotion to another on set.
“My favourite part of this whole music video, because I think in my heart I’m just such a fan of actors and I want to be a writer/director, I want to make films, so getting to work on a film that was very narrative based, watching them act was such a pleasure,” she said.
Mills’ Connection To Barrhven
Elle Mills, 23, was born in the Philippines, but was raised in Ottawa for a larger portion of her upbringing.
The St. Joseph High School graduate started making YouTube videos in 2012, and by 2017 had 15,000 subscribers.
Later that year Mills released a coming out video which now has over 5.6 million views. Mills wrapped her family’s Half Moon Bay home in colourful decorations and individually called each of her friends and family over to have them draw her ideal partner. When most drew pictures of a male, Mills pulled out a picture of what her real ideal crush looks like.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m a little scared,” Mills recounted in a video three days before coming out as bi-sexual. “Growing up, there has always been a negative undertone about the LGBTQ+ community. I’m scared that the relationships with the people in my life right now are going to be different, that people are going to look at me differently. Certain family and friends won’t be friends with me like they used to be.”
“I have this heavy weight on my chest; it’s something that’s been an elephant in the room in my life for a long time, I’ve been feeling really depressed because of it,” Mills continued. “I just want to be able to like someone and tell my mom or my friends.”
Many of Mills’ early videos were filmed in the Barrhaven community of Half Moon Bay, where Mills lived alongside her brother Jay, 21, and mother Janette.
Barrhaven was the YouTube stars playground, and also filmed frequently in the Marketplace mall and at St. Joseph High School where she attended.
On multiple occasions Mills filmed videos with her former high school teachers.
In one video, she brought former St. Joe’s teacher Ms. Lee to a party, which included strippers. In another video, Mills attempted to camp out in the St. Joe’s parking lot.
By October 2017 Mills reached 500,000 subscribers, and celebrated by throwing herself a parade for a video. A float drove past the Barrhaven HomeSense, Costco and Wendy’s, one of Mills’ favourite hangouts. It garnered close to 900,000 views.
In May 2018, Mills took a break from YouTube after the stress of the job became too much. In a video posted online she said it was difficult to take care of her emotional well-being, and needed a break to find happiness.
Known for her red converse shoes and coke shirts, Mills posted her last YouTube video eight months ago. Her main channel now has 1.78 million subscribers and a total of over 157 million views.
The Barrhaven teen turned Hollywood star is now dipping her toes in new and bigger projects. In a recent Twitch stream, she hinted another music video was in the works.
Mills’ dream is to write a feature film, a project she has recently started writing.
In 2021, she voiced the character of Hanna in The Mitchells vs. the Machines, which is now nominated for an Oscar in the best feature film category.
‘I get emotional thinking it’s only the beginning (of my career),” said Mills. “I’ve only done two (major) things. It’s only going to get better.”
About Joshua Bassett
Joshua Bassett, who was born in Oceanside California, started musical theatre at the young age of eight. In 2018, he played the recurring role of Aidan Peters on the Disney Channel television series Stuck in the Middle.
He is best known for his role of Ricky in High School Musical: The Musical The Series, which is currently in production for its third season.
In early 2020, Bassett signed with talent and entertainment company United Talent Agency, and a recording contract with Warner Records. In the years since he has written and produced a number of songs including: “Common Sense”, “Crisis”, “Secret”, and “Set me Free.”
Early last year Bassett became seriously ill and was hospitalized with septic shock and heart failure. The doctors told the singer and actor that he only had a 30 per cent chance of survival, and if he didn’t go to the hospital within 12 hours, he would have been dead.
The health issues were brought on by stress, notes Bassett.
To cope with his stress and anxiety, the Disney star said he is in therapy twice a week, does yoga and meditation, and is always learning new coping mechanisms.
During an interview last June, Bassett said he is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but is “anti coming out”. Bassett said he didn’t want to put a label on his sexuality, saying it shouldn’t fit into boxes.
“Sometimes your letter changes, sometimes you try a different one, other times you realize you’re not what you thought you were, or maybe you always knew,” Basset said in an interview with GQ. “All of these can be true. I’m happy to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community because they embrace all.”
Bassett is now working on a podcast which aims to inspire people who are dealing with various life struggles. In December 2021, Bassett opened up about sexual abuse he encountered as both a child and teen.
“I think a keyword for me in this healing process has been ‘and’ because a lot of times what we’ll say is, ‘Yes, they hurt me, but they’re hurting themselves.’ And what that does is it invalidates your own experience,” Bassett said on the Zach Sang Show. “And the key for me is saying and because and can make can allow both to exist.”
He added, “So saying, ‘This person abused me, and they’re suffering,’ is how you allow space to process and validate your feelings, but also then hold space for them as a human being not that you should or that they deserve it. I’m not saying that, but that’s just my personal philosophy.”
The “Doppelgänger” music video directed by Mills and Bassett can be found here.