by Victoria Cepeda
Recently we received an e-mail from Carlos de La Vega and Rodolpho Zalez. They are the creators of the upcoming TV show called “Wassup en LA?” that follows the life transition of a Cuban American family from Miami, FL to Los Angeles, CA. Theirs is a solid and funny show, which you can see for yourselves through the videos we will be sharing shortly.
However, this article is about a very inspiring tale of determination.
You see, we made a pact with the creators of the show that we would definitely share and help promote the show to our fans, friends and families but with one condition. Their lead actor, Oscar Torre, had to provide us with his account of how he made it in Hollywood, TV and in life as a Latino/Cuban American artist.
What follows is his candid story.
At the end of 1998, I packed my bags and drove to Hollywood in a car that barely made it out of Miami. I had starred in two films in Miami the previous year (Libertad and The Versace Murder) and felt it was time to make the big move. Although I had a good demo reel and had secured LA representation before arriving here, I hit a brick wall.In Miami, they only have a few casting directors who cast film and TV shows, so it’s a lot easier to get in to audition. In LA, they have hundreds of casting directors and without solid LA credits, it’s difficult to be seen by them. My first years in LA I worked sporadically (while working full time on my craft) thanks to filmmakers I met, who were willing to look at my demo reel (which I always carried around with me – you never know who you’re going to meet) and gave me the opportunity to audition for their films.One of these filmmakers was director Joe Menendez, who had seen me in the film Libertad. A mutual friend introduced us. Joe soon cast me in the film Hunting of Man, my first big role in a Hollywood film and four years later Joe once again cast me in a lead role in the Lions Gate film Ladron Que Roba A Ladron. A few months later after shooting Ladron, I found myself auditioning for Cynthia Cidre (writer/creator ) and the TV series Cane (for the role of Santo, Jimmy Smits’ right hand man and hitman.) A couple weeks later I received the much awaited phone call from my manager Eileen O’Farrell, telling me I had booked the job. After years of struggle, knocking on doors and literally handing out hundreds of demo reels, I found myself with a film (Ladron) out in theaters nationwide and a TV series on CBS. I’m not going to say that it has all been easy after that but my career changed for the better. I’ve been able to play roles and be part of films and television shows that in the past would not have been possible without Cane and Ladron.
In my last 13 years here, I’ve seen things change for the better. There are more Latinos on TV, playing better roles than ever before. I think the key is having representation behind the scenes (producers, writers, directors.) Another key is creating our own projects and not waiting for Hollywood to give us a chance. I recently directed and acted in a feature film (Pretty Rosebud) that my wife Chuti Tiu wrote and stars in. We are almost done with post production and are getting ready to start submitting to film festivals. I’m also very excited about what Rudolpho Zalles and Carlos de la Vega are doing with their TV show, Wassup en LA? These are two talented guys with an idea for a TV show, and they’re not sitting around talking about it, they’re making it happen. I’m just glad that they invited me to be part of their cast. I believe that Wassup (a half hour comedy series about a Latino family that moves to Hollywood because the son wants to be an actor) has a real chance of being picked up by a network and having a long run. I’m not sure if 20 years ago this would have been possible. I feel the future is very bright for Latinos in this industry.
We wish Oscar and all the crew (on-camera and off-camera) much success. Thanks for reaching out to our humble community.
The only way is forward, Pa’lante!
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