By Bel Hernandez
2013 was a good year for Jorge Diaz. We saw him in three highly visible project and with each performance the buzz just got louder and louder.
Last year started off with the internet “webinovela” Sin Verguenza (Without Shame), about HIV in the Latino community. The “novela” part is what got us hooked, and hey who is that guy providing the comic relief? In April, why there is is again, this time he plays Majo’s (Gina Rodriguez) caring friend Eddie in the indie hit film Filly Brown. By summer when we see Diaz as the girl crazy Paulie in Hulu’s East Los High, we are total fans.
And in 2014 Diaz is already adding more fans as Hector in the Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. One of those fans just happens to be reviewer Alonso Duralde of The Wrap proclaimed Diaz to be a scene-stealer “who all but walks away with the movie”. Not a bad way to start off the year!
We decided we needed to get to know Diaz a little better. We interviewed him on the heels of The Marked Ones premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, CA.
Latin Heat: Where did you grow up? How did you end up being an actor?
Jorge Diaz: I grew up right in the heart of Los Angeles: Mid-City, L.A. Son of 2 immigrants, I’m a first generation Mexican-American. I began doing plays in junior high, convinced my mother to enroll me in acting classes after being inspired by attending sitcom tapings with family friends. I got an agent through my acting class and began auditioning professionally during my high school days. Then I took about 5 years off when I went off to college in the Bay Area, but got back into it starting from scratch again, after having gotten my diploma (I was a communications major at Saint Mary’s College of CA. First person to graduate from high school and college in my family).
Latin Heat: 2013 was a good year for you with East Los High, Filly Brown, Sin Verguenza, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Do you feel this is a turning point in your career?
I’ve never been as focused as I’ve been solely on my craft and career. It has all been baby steps, a co-star here, another here….booking a network showcase, then a guest-starring, then another indie film. Coincidentally, the last few projects have all been released this past year. It hadn’t really hit me that it might be a turning point in my career, until I realized that The Marked Ones is the first film with an all Latino lead cast that has ever been distributed at this capacity by a major studio. As an actor, I’ve always just tried to stay busy and do my best at that given moment with each project, not knowing who will end up watching it; but now reflecting back, I think it truly is a turning point. All I’m really looking for are more opportunities for diverse roles I could dive myself into that inspire and challenge me, and hopefully after the release of this project and others, I’ll be able to do more of what I love to do.
Latin Heat: Tell us the best part about shooting PNA: The Marked Ones?
The best part I have to say was working with the crew and cast. We ALL got along SO WELL. Such creative loving people. I would invite everyone over to my aunt’s house for a BBQ. The director, Chris Landon, most of all allowed me to have a lot creative freedom while shooting this. We built a sort of trust. I feel he knew I understood his vision and he understood mine and every quirk I wanted to bring to the character, and I’m so thankful to him.
Latin Heat: Why should people go see it?
Firstly, to have an AWESOME TIME. Because that’s what it truly is: a GREAT time! They’ve taken a different approach to this film from any other “horror” film I’ve ever seen. You become invested right away it seems. You laugh, yell, and are taken on a 90 minute roller coaster ride. Secondly, because this will open the doors for other stories to be told. Specifically, Latino stories. If it does as well as many are expecting, major studios will feel more of a trust that a universal story can be told with characters from ANY ethnic background.
Latin Heat: I hear you are looking to produce in the future? Why produce when you seem to be working as an actor?
As a kid, I became obsessed with the television and movie making process. I love it. What’s funny is that I used to sneak onto Paramount studios, as well as other studios, and just walk around peaking my head into different stages, asking questions. It was like Disneyland to me. Ironically, I am now a lead in Paramount movie. Kinda surreal. I don’t consider myself a producer or anything but I always think beyond just my role as an actor naturally. I always look at the project as a WHOLE. I’ve worked behind the scenes for many years growing up, mainly as a PA or intern. When I look at scripts, I just naturally see how it might be shot, who I personally would cast, who would be great to work with, etc. And I LOVE people. I really do LOL. I love human beings. I love passionate people, and I love bringing people together. So when people have told me “you’re more than an actor, you’re a natural producer” I just smile and say “well I just love connecting people, and I believe in talented, passionate people and what comes naturally is to want to introduce those people… and if art is ultimately created, well then that’s beautiful!”
Latin Heat: Where and what will you be doing in 5 years.
More of what I’m doing now, just at a bigger scale. Inspiring people through art. Bringing a smile to people’s face. Bringing light to certain issues. Connecting people from around the world. My definition of art is grand. I see it as life, and I see life as God. I don’t see God as a human being in the sky looking down on us. I see it in the people we have around us, in every living thing. I see it in the beauty we have the ability to create. How I choose to express that is limitless I feel.
We see a very bright future for you Jorge.