Twenty years after deciding to pursue an acting career, Carlos Gomez is reaping the benefits of his hard work and perseverance, with both an ALMA Award and an Imagen award nomination this year for his work as a forensic pathologist in A&E’s The Glades, which recently completed production on its 3rd season.
UPDATE: On August 10th Carlos picked up the Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actor/Television: The Glades (A&E). Next, the ALMA Awards in September.
You have seen Carlos Gomez thoughtout the years on film (Desperado, Fools Rush In and others), television (currently on A&E’s The Glades) and stage (In the Heights) but did you know that he started out as a break-dancer? His first role was in film Dance to Win in 1989. Because he could sing and dance he was soon doing musical theater, and he has not stopped working as an actor since, working with some of Hollywood’s top directors (Robert Rodriguez, Andy Tennant, Antonie Fuqua, Arne Glimcher) and many of television’s hit shows, (ER, New York Undercover, Resurrection Blvd., NCIS, 24, Sleeper Cell, Shark).
Gomez was born in New York and grew up in Florida where his family still lives. At 19, Gomez moved back to New York where he began in earnest, training for his chosen career as an actor. For the most part the roles were small in the beginning. “I was always a gang member for most of my career,” Gomez tells us. “I was so used to doing the two-scene roles, but I kept working at it and then I began to get more substantial roles.”
Gomez secret for his longevity in Hollywood? “You need to be prepared for when opportunity comes knocking.”
Gomez prepared, and when the “opportunity” to read for the lead role in of Dr. Carlos Sanchez, the forensic pathologist in The Glades came, he was ready. After twenty-two years, Gomez had landed his first lead role in a television series. Gomez plays Jim Longworth’s (Matt Passmore) golf partner, friend and colleague working in the crime lab, supervising toxicology screens and autopsies.
Gomez shares the screen on The Glades with fellow actors Matt Passmore (Det. Jim Longworth) and Kiele Sanchez who plays registered nurse Callie Cargill. Behind the camera the list of producers is headed by creator and executive producer Clifton Campbell and a long list of producers which includes Ed Tapia (Detroit 1-8-7, Tales from the Crypt) and Alfonso H. Moreno (The Practice, NCIS); with writer Dailyn Rodriguez (90210, Ugly Betty) added to the team as writer for season three.
On the eve of the Imagen awards we had a chance to sit and chat with Gomez about the process of his “22 year instant stardom” career, his future plans, and his insight into a career in Hollywood that is both tough yet rewarding.
Latin Heat: Congratulations on both your Imagen and ALMA award nominations! There is a lot of pressure in both auditioning for a lead role in a TV series, making the cut and staying on the air, let alone getting nominated for an award. Give us an insight into all this.
Carlos Gomez: First of all, the fact that they had written a complete role…that I wasn’t just reading for a role of a killer, but a forensic doctor, that alone had me nervous. It’s so rare in this business to have that opportunity as a Latino.
As far as the audition process, there were a lot of medical terms I had to become familiar with. It was overwhelming, going through the process, then reading for producers…I doubted myself for a while. Once I got the job I did have an opportunity to sit down with the writers and talk about who the character was, which was a rare experience for me. The writers were actually writing for me!
We just wrapped our third season and I have grown with my character. Clifton Campbell, the creator of the show, is an amazing writer. He works both comedy and drama and he understands my character so well.
LH: Why do you feel that Campbell “gets it” when it comes to your character?
CG: He was raised in Hialeah, Florida, a very affluent community in the 80’s. He grew up with these people [like his character] around him, he knows the people. He has the pulse on the Latino-ness. He knows this world and it’s a good thing because he had to sell that to A&E, and it was a battle.
LH: Right before you got cast in The Glades, you had taken a very successful detour from TV and film, going back to your first love, the stage. You played the father in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit play In the Heights on Broadway. How did that happen?
CG: I was in New York doing publicity for Shark and I see the billboard for he off-Broadway play In the Heights and knew I wanted to go see this show. I bought a ticket and sat by myself in the theater. Ten minutes into the show, I knew I was seeing something amazing. I called my manager and told him “I know it’s going some where. I know it’s going to have a history” and asked him to look into it. A month later the show was headed to Broadway and they were looking to replace one character – one. The dad. I flew myself to NY to audition.
Cut to January 1, 2008 and I am at the final call back for the role. When we opened in March of that year, there I was on the Broadway stage. Sure that meant I was going to be away for a year from film and TV…but I had to be there.
LH: You’ve just wrapped the 3rd season of of The Glades, hopefully there will be a 4th, but in what ways are you preparing for the future?
CG: I am looking to direct soon. For many of us who have been working in this industry for over 20 years, it is important to go to the other side – behind the camera. I got my first taste for directing when I was on Resurrection Blvd., where I had the opportunity to shadow the assistant director. Now I am looking to direct an episode of The Glades, which hopefully will happen next season.
The set has been like my school of production and I am like a sponge observing. I have a little bit on an edge, I know the show, and I am shadowing and gaining insight. Jaime Reynoso, our cinematographer, will have my back and is encouraging me.
LH: What does the future hold for you? For Latinos in Hollywood as a whole?
I love acting. However I really want to work in creating shows that are Latino themed, with our stories, and finding the audience for these stories. Our Latino audience watches Batman and then will turn to the internet to find what they are not seeing on film and TV — on the new internet channels.
One of those channels is Jesse Terrero’s (Freelancers, Soul Plane and music director: 50 Cents) 1-2-3UnoDosTres internet channel. Terrero’s channel represents Latinos in a way you don’t usually see — beautiful and happening. Its just the beginning of what this channel will be bringing – its beautiful and its hip trending.
We need an infrastructure of Latinos who have worked in mainstream to start creating, to be the producers, the writers…that is the only way we will have the leverage to change the image of Latinos in Hollywood and tell the untold stories in our community.
LH: What advice do you have for young actors?
CG: One thing I tell up and coming actors is you need to study. It is not enough to have a pretty face. When opportunity knocks – you need to be prepared
Catch episodes of The Glades on A&E every Sunday at 9/8C
For more info and past episodes of The Glades