Mikel Dusi was born and raised in Queens, New York, the youngest son of a very close-knit Albanian family. He worked for many years in the Queens family owned Galleria Pizzeria.
The details of Mike life, metamorphosed in his somewhat biographical film, Mikey Boy, which he co-wrote, co-produced and starred in, are reminiscent of another famous, albeit fictional, Queens native, Vincent Chase, the leading player of the HBO series, Entourage who brings his boys out to Hollywood with him when he hits the big time. Like the fictional Vincent, the real Mikey Boy is equally devoted to his family and longtime friends. His younger brother Jack Dusi - think Entourage's Kevin "Drama" Chase - is Mike's co-writer, co-producer and has an small acting role in Mikey Boy as someone simply called Jack. And I suspect that everyone Mike ever knew growing up has a small part in the film.
The credits are endless.
Mike's actual BFF is Robin Charters, the son of Rodney Charters, the award- winning cinematographer/director of Showtime's Shameless and Fox's 24 among other. Robin and Mike hung out on Rodney's TV shoots all the time when they were growing up, and Robin is now Mike's co-star and the cinematographer of Mikey Boy, the 2013 Queens Film Festival Audience Award Winner.
Mike won his first audience awards from the patrons of his father's Galleria Pizzeria. "Pizza's always been in my life. I literally grew up entertaining my father's customers left and right. Hey, how you doing? Take a pie. Take two. Next thing you know, I'm at Nassau College in an acting class. It's not only so much fun, but it's exactly what I did behind the counter of the pizzeria. Except for two things. Acting's a lot more work and there's a lot less garlic."
When Mike's dad was ready to retire, he offered the family business to his sons, but by then their vision for their future went beyond pizza dough, tomato sauce and cheese." His Dad took the news of Mike's proposed move to California like a true successful Albanian-American. "If you keep making pizza when you want to do something else, then our family is staying stagnant in our lives, in our culture and in our community."
"I wanted different scenery so I went from one coast to the other. I moved to Santa Monica, took a couple of classes in the morning and hung out on the beach the rest of the day. No family, no friends, no weddings, no funerals, no New York. I was doing exactly what I wanted. One of my friends, Jeremy Luke, featured in Mikey Boy , is currently cast as one of Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys. He sent me to his acting coach, Joe Palese, and that changed everything for me. Joe turned me into a professional. I learned to develop and recreate a performance over and over and over again, which was very gratifying."
Mikey Boy is about an Albanian young man whose traditional parents want to help set him up in his own pizzeria. Their idea of financing involves sending their son back to the homeland for an arranged marriage to a bride with a big enough dowry to buy him his own Pizza shop. But Mikey's in love with his blonde American actress sweetheart, who dumped him -- for why, see above -- so he bribes his younger brother into walking down the Armenian aisle for him and plans to win back his sweetheart's affections by producing a movie for her to star in. Getting a script, a director, distribution, financing and an agent involves Mikey and Robin in a buddy road trip adventure with stops in France, Monaco, Utah, NY, NJ, California, and Hawaii et al. Mikey gets the girl -- celebrity conquers all -- and more frequent flyer miles than NY State Representative Sheldon Silver amasses for his weekly flights from Manhattan to Albany via Washington DC.
"In March of this year, we screened Mikey Boy at the Queens Film Festival. The movie wasn't completed yet, but I said, 'That's my neighborhood out here and we'll play it.' Two hundred and forty people showed up. I recorded their reactions. They laughed every six to eight seconds. I couldn't believe it. They found the movie drop dead hysterical and it validated all the hard work we put into it. We have to do whatever it takes to get as many people as possible to watch it. And it opened up a lot of doors for us which is really exiting."
Mikey Boy starts a limited Manhattan release on November 1st.