By Bel Hernandez
In his one-man show at Casa 0101, Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood, Rick Najera takes his life and puts in our lap. His life, which just over a year ago was in sudden danger of being extinguished. That he can laugh about it, and make the audience laugh with him is a tribute not only to his talent but also to his willingness to unabashedly share. And the audience responds.
In this one-man play, as in his book by the same name, Najera, an award-winning writer, actor and director, comedian, playwright and producer, explores what it means to be a Latino against the ever-changing backdrop of his life as a Hollywood creative.
Najera begins his one-man show by reading from his book, which begins with the incident that almost took his life. He was home alone — sick with pneumonia. Suddenly he falls and hits his head. There he lay covered in blood for hours and there he would remain unconscious until his wife came home to find him. In the hospital he would remain in intensive care in a coma, for days.
That is the starting point into the journey of his life brought to the stage. From that perspective Najera take us back into his childhood, growing up in San Diego and finding out that, unbeknownst to him, he was a “wetback”. His “almost white” status meant that this “guero” was too white to be accepted into the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan (MECHA). Undeterred he used his “whiteness” to become a Shakespearean actor on stage. But being Latino was always a matter of fact and most of Najera’s projects deal with what it is to be Latino in America – in Hollywood.
In the show Najera talks about being one of the founders of Latins Anonymous, a sketch group he helped found in the 80s. He was one of the first Latinos writers on TV, working on In Living Color early on in his career. When acting roles were slow he created his own stage production Latinolouges, which he produced on Broadway, making him one of only three Latino to produce a show about Latinos in the mecca of theater.
There is a lot of Latino Hollywood history in Najera’s Almost White, as told through the prism of someone who literally had his life flash before him. When he woke up from his coma he realized what was important to him in his life and this is his way of sharing. So go see the play, you will laugh, because you just can NOT laugh at Najera’s wit. And we dare you not to go out and buy the book to get the full story, as there is not enough time to tell the whole story in one stage production.
This weekend will be your last opportunity to see Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood at Casa 0101. The last three performances are Friday, April 25th, Saturday, April 26th and Sunday April 27th. Buy your tickets HERE . You cannot afford to miss this show.
Location: CASA 0101 Theater
Almost White Written and Performed by: Rick Najera
Directed by: Rafael Agustin
Produced by: Gina Linn Espinoza