Interview by Carl Marsh - September 2014
I know you read a lot, but other people, why they should read more?
Be inspired in order to inspire. My life has been nothing but an interesting adventure. Most of my dreams have come true. And I have faith that the rest of my dreams will eventually come true. But I would have never had the courage to dream, if I wasn’t inspired by all the books I read growing up. Reading expanded my imagination and allowed me to see life as an adventure. Books gave me permission to be limitless in my dreaming. Then my dreams, fuelled by my untainted faith, have come to fruition. And the more your dreams come true, the greater your faith becomes. So keep reading, keep dreaming and keep proving.
Such inspiring words from such a talented actor! This brings me on to your latest TV project "If Loving You Is Wrong", what is it all about?
I play Julius Escada in Tyler Perry’s “If Loving You Is Wrong” which premiered this month on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). It’s the story of a group of women who come from different walks of life and live in the same neighborhood. The show tells their particular stories and how they are interwoven with each other’s. Julius is Esperanza’s love interest, played by Zulay Henao; he is trying to become the man she wants, but he has a past that keeps putting him in situations that hold him back. Tyler has really done a wonderful job at showing every kind of problem one could have, whether ordinary or extraordinary, and also giving great redemptive qualities to every character.
Your character in the show, how realistic is he to you in real life, and how did you prepare for the part?
Very realistic! I try to stay open to the fact that all characters are realistic to any human being. It is the circumstances that shape and mould a character's perspective on life, therefore, his/her personality and behaviour. I never judge a character; I always imagine myself in their circumstances and then every action becomes justified. In terms of preparation, every character is different because every circumstance is different. With Julius, being from Colombia and having such a distinct upbringing, I did a lot of research on his country and everything that was happening when he was growing up, such as political riots and drug wars. I learned to speak with a Colombian accent and created a whole backstory that would justify his actions during the show. Once you let your imagination run, it’s amazing to see what your subconscious comes up with.
And will there be a second series?
Well that depends on the success of the first season and if the fans want more. So we’ll see.
What is your favourite book, and why is that?
Too many, but here are a few that really stuck with me : Paulo Cohello - The Alchemist, Ernest Hemingway’s From whom the bell tolls, JD Salinger – Catcher in the Rye, Jon Krauker – Into the Wild, Don Winslow – Kings of Cool. Steven Pressfield - The War of Art, Julia Cameron - The Artist’s Way. There’s too many.
Are you reading anything at the moment?
Yes. “Science of the Mind” by Ernest Holmes.
Have you ever fancied writing a book yourself?
Yes, everyday. I want to write an autobiography, a cook book, a children's book, a science fiction novel, a book about my views on life and my views on acting. But I am still learning and being filled. When the time is right I trust inspiration will drive me to pass my experiences and thoughts on to the paper.
How did you get into acting / TV / etc...?
I actually fell into it. I was living in Vancouver, Canada, waiting tables and painting when a girlfriend at the time invited me to her acting class. I was just supposed to audit but the teacher decided to bring me up on stage because someone needed a scene partner. I remember I was so nervous I could barely hold the sides on my hand. It was one of the scariest experiences I've had. Since I can remember I’ve always been a thrill seeker and I couldn’t let this one pass. Although I originally tried pursuing what I thought was practical and secure, after I graduated from Business school in San Francisco I realised I never got over the rush I felt on stage that day. I wanted to inspire and be inspired, I wanted to express, to expose myself and touch people’s souls. So I decided to move to Los Angeles and pursue the art and two years later, here I am, living the dream, starring on a national TV show. Dreams birth reality.
The next 12 months, what do they hold for you?
I really don’t know, and I’m fine with that. Not planning allows for spontaneity and it gives life a chance to surprise you. I think one of life’s greatest aspects is the “unknown”. It keeps you aware and curious. I do know there will be a lot of auditions, acting classes, family time and reading.
What has been your most memorable experience so far?
While I was shooting the first season of “If Loving You Is Wrong” this past summer, I was waiting in my room to be called on set when someone knocked on my door. I opened it and Oprah Winfrey was standing there. She smiled and said she just wanted to come meet the cast and say hi. I’ve never been star-struck, but there was something about Oprah’s energy that just left me in a bit of a shock. Later that evening, Tyler told me she was going to be on set for my scene. I was so nervous because it was an emotional scene and I didn’t want to come up short. However, as soon as I got to set and said hi to her, it was as if her energy was transferred onto me and I just let myself go and had so much fun.
Any regrets along the way?
I don’t believe in regrets. If you have faith that everything is happening the way it’s supposed to happen, regardless of the experience being pleasant or unpleasant, there is no room for regrets and the word “mistake” loses its meaning. There are no mistakes, just cause and effect, and its all part of the journey. In fact, looking back at my life, it is the negative experiences, the ones that in the moment were the hardest to embrace and accept, that have been the most beneficial and produced the most fruits.
I always end on a literary note, so using your imagination as if you were to write it in a book, if you could be an animal, what would it be and why?
If I could be an animal, I would be a wolf. Because they are sharp, fast, strong and have great instincts. They can survive either in a pack or alone. They are always on the move.