"My first acting role? I was nine and I played a shepherd for the church Christmas play. I wanted the role of Joseph but was told that I was too short and a little too dark-skin toned. Those words planted a spark in my soul and throughout the years it has grown to an irrepressible firestorm. Being a dark Latino actor has its restraints, but I'm no defeatist!" His sincere smile lit the poolside cabana of the W Hotel in Hollywood as we conversed for a brief time on a summer evening.
When CARLOS MORENO JR.
arrived in Los Angeles, he knew he was here to stay. He had a cause: to transform the portrayal of Latinos in Hollywood and reinvent acting in cinema. He's a force to be reckoned with.
You might not have heard of this rising star but MORENO has appeared in films such as TRANSFORMERS, DELTA FARCE, and the soon to be released THE OBAMA EFFECT. His TV credits include: CSI, THE UNIT and Carlos managed to achieve his goal by guest starring on ER's last Christmas episode.
set of TRANSFORMERS with michael bay
set of DELTA FARCE with danny trejo
'Being a dark
Latino actor has
but I'm no
"As a kid I'd spent my summers as a migrant worker in Michigan; the best times in my life, thus far, until I get my Oscar.", he winks at me. "Yes, harvesting crop was painstaking but boy did I spend hours dreaming of becoming an actor while working fourteen hours a day; it made the day go by quicker and enjoyable. My father would say, 'Mijo, dont look at the entire field just look down and keep on picking; by the time you know it, it's finished.' Working in the fields prepared me for life. If we persist, eventually well reach our intentions; back then it was to finish a 100 acre field of asparagus a day and now its to work with the best artists in the film industry."
asparagus picking in michigan
'If we persists,
"No I wasn't born with all my talent, he says laughing. I do have to give credit to my first acting teacher, MILTON KATSELAS. He was a true Master, a passionate artist and a witty man. After he saw my third scene in class he said to me, 'Now you're an actor, we had to fumigate this whole damn theater after your first scene, that's how bad you stunk. Now you can act with Al Pacino and the rest of the them. All YOU need is to BELIEVE. That's your entire critique. The more you believe the more you create, the more you create, the more you believe,' ...ah Milton. I know it sounds easy but don't be fooled, it takes time and patience."
The Beverly Hills Playhouse
Milton Katselas' Memorial Video
"I'm currently studying with Jocelyn Jones. I go to class, or my playground, to expand my limitations and play roles Hollywood wouldn't see me perform; so when the time comes, I got all these characters in my pocket and baby I'm ready to go!"
"I love to play all types of characters. My favorite roles are the ones with some pathology. When I act, the work has to cost me something, you know, reveal or expose something about myself. I shock myself at times and say, 'Wow! I didn't know that about me!' I don't satisfy easily; the creation has to excite me or I'll continue to explore, asking questions til the answer is visceral. This feeling is...," he takes a sip of his gin and tonic, "...this feeling is, ART and it's sui- generis, unique." He stops for a moment looks at me and shakes his head. "This is how I work. This is how I give truth to the character; give myself permission to fully explore and I keep on asking questions, oh yeah, I ask while driving, while in the shower, you name it. And let me tell you something, if I'm not having fun, that means I'm working and I DONT LIKE TO WORK." He bursts in laughter with such pleasure. "What's missing in Hollywood is this type of acting/work, passion."
'This feeling is...
ART and it's sui
scene from CSI with lawrence fishburne
"I just got acquainted with the music of Amel Larriux, I feel her; pick any of her songs, I swear music seeps out of her pores. There are many great and incredible music artists from Aretha Franklin to Prince. I tend to gravitate to artists who have something to state with artistic appeal."
"My father is a musician so I grew up with music around me every day, translation, I can carry a tune but I can't play a darn instrument at this point. Many hours are needed to play an instrument."
"I remember when I was around a boy, my grandparent's relatives would visit from Mexico and no sooner than later, I would hear my nickname, 'Giro!' and then in Spanish 'Come and dance for us.' And I'd be doing the Robot, Popping and dancing like the Soul Train Dancers, really. I knew back then I had a calling for entertainment."
"Latinos are so under represented in the industry, but things are slowly progressing; it's long over due." He puts on his Gucci shades, "I sometimes wish there were more roles than just your stereotypes but I'll do whatever comes along my path, believe me, whatever. I've noticed that there are many successful diverse TV shows right now; soon to be working as a series regular, yours truly. And the film industry also has opened it's arms to Latinos as you can see I've left my stamp. Yeah, Im looking forward to future projects: I'm creating a TV show, have finished co-writing a feature and started writing a script set in 1856."
scene from ER as roberto ortiz
'I've got more
energy in me
than this town
"I'm very optimistic for the coming months. I've got a lot of work. I have to say that there is nothing more rewarding than doing something you love. When I'm acting or rehearsing, I feel alive, alive! I know the universe planned the artiste in me. I can't wait to share these ideas with others, baby I'm filling the rocket fuel on this rocket and I'm getting ready to launch! I've got more energy in me than this town can handle," he chuckles. "Seriously, I'm lucky to have the best, and most personal job in the world. It's my duty as an artiste to help the world be a better place. And you know what? I'm gonna have fun doing it.
Going back to the fields, I set myself to do something great in my life and when I set myself to do something, I do it, as a maverick. I'm ready to take the reins in Hollywood and steer it to where I want to go. I got nothing, nada to lose, nothing and so much to gain. I'm taking people on board in my rocket and I promise they won't regret being part of the escapade." He drinks and smiles again glowing even more than when we first started. and honestly, I could feel his fervor and words penetrating me. His enthusiasm is simply infectious.
set of THE OBAMA EFFECT with charles dutton