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Ryan Guzman Talks Fame, Movies and His Proud Latino Roots

by Jack Rico /  / Updated 
Image: "Jem And The Halograms" Special Screening
Actor Ryan Guzman attends the Rhode Island premiere of "Jem And The Holograms" at Showcase Cinemas Warwick on October 20, 2015 in Warwick, Rhode Island.Eric Frazer / Getty Images Contributor

Mexican-American actor Ryan Guzman is hot right now. Not only has he worked with Jennifer Lopez in "The Boy Next Door," he is also on NBC's Heroes Reborn and is currently working on "Boyhood" director Richard Linklater's new movie. Ryan is in theaters right now in the newly released movie 'Jem & the Holograms.'

We had a chance to catch up with him and discuss, oh you know, things like the secret factors behind becoming famous, his strong message to people that don't like him, a Latino film short he's developing through his production company 'Primo Entertainment' about the transition Mexicans make to become Americans, and ironically, how he doesn't think he is famous. Below is part of our interview.

Image: "Jem And The Halograms" Special Screening
Actor Ryan Guzman attends the Rhode Island premiere of "Jem And The Holograms" at Showcase Cinemas Warwick on October 20, 2015 in Warwick, Rhode Island.Eric Frazer / Getty Images Contributor

Jack Rico (JR): Hey Ryan, thanks for talking to us. You play Rio, a road manager who discovers a group of girls on YouTube and takes them to stardom. Scooter Braun, Justin Bieber's manager, is known for discovering talent on YouTube. How much was Scooter a template for your character?

Ryan Guzman (RG): Not really - Scooter every now and then came to the set and, you know, showed the stage, and we had a good laugh; I kinda got his vibe. But yeah, playing a road manager, I just had fun with it, you know. It’s all about, pretty much, making sure the artist has enough room to be free and create, to do his or her own thing but, obviously, you gotta keep them on track so it’s just kinda that “fun uncle” type of deal.

JR: Part of being a road manager is making sure the artists don't swerve off the course of fame and fortune. What did you discover about fame and is there a secret formula to becoming famous?

RG: I think it’s being different. But while everybody is trying to be different, everybody becomes, obviously, the same, so it’s finding what makes you special and then kind of sharing it with the world; it's what makes you a superstar. It’s kind of an empowering message which is what you see throughout ‘Jem & the Holograms’, you know. Letting loose and becoming who you need to become by just letting it happen and letting your inner artist out.

JR: What about your personal and professional fame? I'm sure you, at some point, were struggling to be a steady working actor. Do you remember that moment where it all broke through for you?

RG: No, I still don’t know if I’ve even had that moment. [LAUGH]. I work my butt off because that’s always who I've been. I'm always thinking if I’m not doing something to get ahead in life, someone else is doing it. To make that stamp and to continue to keep on growing, I just have to work that much harder. So, no, I mean, as far as the fame, I still don’t think I’m famous, I don’t see myself as that. I walk the streets and nobody really stops me and goes crazy. I’m not Brad Pitt or anything.

You always gotta continue to hunger. If you’re gonna continue in any kind of industry whether music or the film industry or athletics, that drive to become better is what will eventually make you into that superstar everybody else will see. Right now though, it’s incredible. With ‘Heroes’ and ‘Jem and the Holograms’ coming out, later on next year the Richard Linklater movie I did. It’s all happening, you know.

And I am kinda - I always end up looking at either my manager, my agent, my PR, anybody that’s around me pretty much and being like “wow”. I’m so blessed, so blessed to continuously be working, to continuously be doing things that interest me and are different. So I just, I’m very appreciative, you know, and that’s what actually fuels the hunger again, so I continuously try to say “Do I deserve this?” or “Do I need to earn more?” so, let me work a little harder and work more.

JR: What is it that you think has resonated with the public about you? Is there a moment of introspection where you ask, "How did this happen?

I like to think outside of the film industry, I’m just a very genuine person and I like to show that as much as I possibly can. Like I said, I’m very appreciative, I’m feeling very blessed and I like to live in the moment so any person I meet, I start to leave my mark. As far as my work goes, I just hope that people like it when I do it. I certainly give my best and try to learn as much as I can while I’m working or studying for a role. I would love to know the feedback actually, because I am sure there is a mixture of emotions. Some people either really like me or some people don’t like me, but even if you don’t like me right now or you kinda like me right now, this isn’t the end for me, I’m going to continue.

JR: You are very versatile, man. You dance, you act, and now you’re singing for ‘Jem and the Holograms’. Ten years from now, where do you see yourself cementing your strength?

RG: I actually have my production company, but to create my own films and TV shows, that’s what I think the end game is. I love how TV is now embracing this new version of television as far as working the character aspects - like Game of Thrones; you become enthralled with all the new crazy things that happen in television that didn’t happen before 10, 20 years ago. So I want to just create. As long as I am creating, whether it’d be acting, directing, writing, producing, I’m fine with that. Ten years from now, hopefully I am showing the world my vision rather than just portraying someone else’s.

JR: How close are you to your Hispanic roots right now?

RG: I’m pretty close [laughs].

JR: ¿Hablas español?

RG: Un poquito, I mean, I—entiendo más but—I feel like if I were to be around it again, I would be able to pick it up much quicker now. I’ve been studying a lot more Spanish now, there’s not many people in Toronto that speak it around me. I’ve been trying to use certain programs to keep it fresh. I can’t wait to go back home, you know, and hang out with my family. Not having my family around its kind of hard, it’s just rough, cause that’s the roots, we're very family oriented. My roots will always be with me and I’ll always embody the Latin culture and my Mexican culture and I will show off that beautiful side of me.

JR: With your production company, is there any interest on creating great Hispanic content? Everybody is looking for the new "Latino Empire".

RG: Oh yeah. Right now I am actually working with a friend of mine to create a short film, yet again, called “Un Sueño Americano” which is kinda like a transition from showing how someone from Mexico makes that transition to America and why certain people fall into certain categories and then become type-cast or people are just viewed upon differently in probably negative ways.

I enjoy the Latin market which is just untouched, really. You have ‘Jane the Virgin’ out there which is lovely and very happily doing great, but we’re on the tip of the iceberg, there’s so many interesting stories, there’s so many beautiful, amazing things that have happened in Latin culture, whether it’d be Mexico, Spain, Chile, or, you know, Colombia, or any of them!

Even with ‘Narcos,’ even though the accents were a bit off, we are starting to implement more Latin culture into more mainstream American views. So, I feel like with my production company, we are setting ourselves up for success. The more I grow as an actor and let my name become known, I can start investing that into my own company and hopefully show off the embodiment of my heritage.

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