“Tio Papi” movie poster, Joey Dedio (center) (Photo/Stefan Falke)

[VIDEO] “Tio Papi,” a movie about family, crosses cultural borders

Joey Dedio is a single guy originally from the Bronx, NY, but in his award-winning film “Tio Papi” he plays an uncle, turned dad to six kids after his sister and her husband pass away in a car crash. Already having made a memorable presence in a handful of international film festivals, it will be also be screening in Puerto Rico and the Cleveland International Film Festival this weekend.

“I was in Los Angeles and I saw a guy in a park, and all these kids were jumping on him, and they were all yelling ‘Tio! Tio! Tio!,’ and my friend laughed and said, ‘That’s probably because those are not his kids,’ and that’s how ‘Tio Papi’ came about,” says Dedio about what inspired him to write and star in this comedy-drama with an all-Latino cast — all except for Kelly McGillis from “Top Gun” and Frankie Faison.  “Kelly McGillis plays the lady from the state who wants to take the kids away from me.”

Dedio produced three movies last year through his own production company, Active Fox, which he started in 2000.

“They’ve been calling me the Latino Tyler Perry,” laughs Dedio, who will be receiving a GLAAD Media Award in San Francisco for his film “Musical Chairs” next month.

“Tio Papi” and his suspense thriller “36 Saints” are both supposed to hit national theaters on September 6.

“I love movies that touch the human condition…that make people see things differently than they ordinarily see them,” says Dedio. “And there’s no better way to do this than through film and television.”

He says he’s always been drawn to the acting world. When he was 10 years old, Dedio says he discovered there was a kid in his school that was in a soap opera, and he went straight up to him and asked him who his agent was.

“I called him, and I said, ‘I want to be an actor,’” says the half Puerto Rican, half Italian whose parents thought he was crazy. “They told me to bring pictures, and I brought my baby pictures. They thought it was so cute they started putting me in commercials.”

After commercials, he was on several after school TV specials and then on the NBC soap opera “Another World.” In 1989, he moved to California when he landed a role on the series, “The Karate Kid,” and a voice on the animated series “Captain Planet and the Planeteers.”

“I played Wheeler, the cocky kid from New York,” says Dedio, who ended up graduating from Fordham University with a degree in communications. “And then I got into independent film work with Vin Diesel in ‘Strays.’ I played his best friend.”

It was since then that he decided he wanted to make movies with his own production company.

“Since that day, that’s what I’ve been doing,” says Dedio 16 years later. “I’m always working.”

He now works in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, and is in the process of making “Tio Papi” into a television series.

“I think people are gravitating towards movies that really matter,” says Dedio as to why he’s focusing on breaking stereotypes and on topics all people can relate to. “It’s wild to see ‘Tio Papi,’ because all people are looking at it as a family, which is such a compliment to us [as Latinos]. It just happens to be that it’s about a Latino family, but it’s touching African-Americans, whites, rich, poor…it’s all about the family, and I think anybody can relate to that — what really matters most is family.”

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