Saturday, February 28, 2015

Banner Ads Now Available on HOLA Website

Wanna promote your upcoming stage production? Your upcoming film screening? Your upcoming special event?

HOLA members often get publicity in our Members in Performance page, but what if you could promote on our main homepage, or in our directory (The HOLA Pages), where more people can see your ad?

What if you had a project with no HOLA members that you wanted to promote?

What if you wanted to promote something that wasn’t a show (like your production company itself or a new website)?

Now you can do so by BUYING A BANNER AD on the HOLA website.

Banner ads come in half-page and full-page sizes and can be on the HOLA website for one week, two weeks, three weeks or a whole month. HOLA can also link your ad to a particular website at no additional cost.

Prices on the banner ads are affordable. Also, not-for-profit organizations receive a 10% discount on ad prices.

The HOLA website receives thousands of visits each month. The HOLA website is viewed by many professionals in the industry and is a unique way of reaching the Latino/Hispanic and mainstream audiences, which make buying a banner ad a smart investment for you.

Wanna buy a banner ad? Call (212) 253-1015 or (888) 624-HOLA or e-mail us for prices and ad dimensions.

HOLA Regional Membership Available For Those Outside New York Metropolitan Area

If you are an actor who lives in an area of the U.S. outside of the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey or Connecticut (HOLA's programming and administrative headquarters region), HOLA is proud to announce its Regional Membership level - for only $65 (versus a $125 regular NYC region membership price) for one full year!

As an HOLA Regional Member, you'll be entitled to the following member benefits:

• Your headshot, resume, reel and voiceover demo*  showcased on the HOLA Pages, the internet's only concentrated source of Latino acting talent. The directory is a trusted resource for casting directors, producers and talent agents receiving, on average, over 5,000 visits per month. (* There is an additional charge 
of $15 for adding your voiceover demo.)

• Your performances listed and promoted via HOLA's website and social media pages (Facebook and Twitter) that reaches thousands of people in the entertainment industry.

• Casting notices that will alert you to employment opportunities tailored to the Latino actor.

• Advocacy to combat stereotypes of the Latino/Hispanic community in media and entertainment as well as the opportunity to join in solidarity with the Latino/Hispanic acting community.

Application for regional memberships accepted by telephone order only. Call HOLA toll free at (888) 524-HOLA or (888) 524-4652. (VISA, MasterCard and American Express accepted.) Please submit your headshot (in .jpg format) and resume in a Word 
document or in Portable Data Format (.doc or .docx; or .pdf) via e-mail to HOLA.

Why Join HOLA? Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About HOLA

Frequently Asked Questions

• Is HOLA an agency or management company?
No. While we work similarly to an agency or an artist management company, we do a lot more. In essence, HOLA is a membership organization, a not-for-profit arts service and advocacy organization that offers jobs and casting opportunities, workshops and seminars and special events to its membership.

• Does one have to audition for HOLA?
No. HOLA is a membership organization. Just pay the annual membership and you become an HOLA member.

• I am a new actor. Does HOLA apply to me and how so? (Or conversely, I have a fair amount of experience. How does HOLA apply to me?)
HOLA members range from the beginner to the established and everywhere in between. HOLA will apply to you at every stage of your career.

• Do I have to speak Spanish (or Portuguese) to be an HOLA member?
No. HOLA members speak English only, Spanish only, or both languages fluently. Our Brazilian members speak Portuguese as well as English. There is no requirement for any member to speak Spanish (or Portuguese) to be an HOLA member.

• What kind of casting notices do you receive?
HOLA receives all kinds of casting notices— from union and nonunion, through the disciplines of film, television, theater and voiceover. The majority of our notices are distributed to our membership. There are some instances, whether because of short notice or because of the search for something very specific, that HOLA makes referrals to certain talent.

• I have signed representation. Would that be in conflict with HOLA?
No. In fact, we would put your signed representative’s name and number on your online profile. It would be another way to promote yourself without conflict.

• If I book a job through HOLA, do I owe you a commission?
No. We are not an agency or artist management company. You are under no obligation to give us a commission. (But if you want to show your appreciation with a donation, we’ll be forced to take it, I suppose.)

• I am in the process of getting my citizenship. Could I still join HOLA?
Yes. As long as you can legally work in the U.S., you can join HOLA.

• Does HOLA have a social media presence?
Yes. We are on FacebookTwitter and have our own channel on YouTube. In addition, we are on Wikipedia and have our own blog, titled El Blog de HOLA.

• What if I am not an actor but I like what you do?
You could support HOLA by becoming a Friend of HOLA and donating to the organization. If you are a producer or director, a Friend of HOLA donation allow us to promote your productions!

All About Becoming an HOLA Member or a Friend of HOLA

Wanna be an HOLA member? Wanna know more about HOLA first?

 is a not-for-profit arts service and advocacy organization founded in 1975.

HOLA members get their headshots and resumes on our web directory. In addition, HOLA receives casting notices from various sources that we pass on to our members (or in specific cases, help refer actors to the casting director).

HOLA offers low-cost workshops and seminars, professional counseling, special events and networking activities. We also produce the HOLA Awards which honor outstanding achievement by Latinos in entertainment.

HOLA has a Facebook page and a Twitter page in addition to this blog (imaginatively titled El Blog De HOLA). Whenever a member is doing a project, we can promote via e-mails we send out, through our Members in Performance page on the website or in El Blog on our HOLA Member Bochinche column (only good bochinche, never bad bochinche). It functions as another outlet to promote your work. HOLA is also on YouTube and on Wikipedia.

What if you are not an actor? You can support HOLA by being a Friend of HOLA. For more information, click here.

To become an HOLA member online (New York metropolitan area), fill out the member application form here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

HOLAwave: An Actor Inquires – Getting A Manager, An Agent, And/Or An Attorney... Do I Need All Three?

[HOLAwave represents a series of guest blogs by industry insiders giving informative and educational tidbits for the Latino performer. They can range from acting and auditioning advice, tech tips, legal advice, marketing, producing tips, and so on. Get caught up in the wave– the HOLAwave.]


An Actor Inquires is a section devoted to actors and the questions they have about the business and legal aspects of the film and theatre industry. In a nod to Stanislavski and his book, An Actor Prepares, these blog posts are meant to prepare you about the other equally important areas of the acting profession. A talented actor who knows his or her craft AND the business is a force to be reckoned with. If you have questions for future postings, please e-mail them here.

What can an agent, a manager and an attorney do for me? And do I need all three?

In legalese, an agent is someone authorized to act on behalf of someone else (the “principal”). In theatre, television and film, an agent’s main job is to procure employment for his or her clients as a representative who negotiates deals on their behalf in hopes of finding them work. Many states regulate the activities of agencies, either as part of their state’s employment agencies regulations, in general, or under rules specific to the entertainment industry. The regulations typically require the agent to register and obtain a license and post a surety bond. These laws also restrict the fees that the agent can charge to his or her client. In New York, Article 11 of the General Business Law contains special rules applicable to a “theatrical employment agency.” In California, Section 1700.4 of the Labor Code (aka The California Talent Agency Act) defines what a “talent agent” is. 

Agents are mainly active in negotiating their clients’ talent agreements for theatrical, online, network, syndicated, commercial, pay cable, local television, studio, independent studio and alternative media productions. Agents tend to specialize in specific types of productions or markets so a performer who appears in Broadway theatre may have one agent for that work and another agent (often but not always at the same agency) for voiceover work. The largest agencies have offices in New York and Los Angeles with satellite offices in Chicago, London, Miami, Nashville, etc. The United Talent Agency (UTA), Gersh Agency, William Morris Endeavor (WME), ICM Partners and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) are among the most powerful and they represent talent in all areas from performers to athletes, directors, writers, producers, scenic designers and other creative personnel. Some performers prefer smaller agencies since they can get a more individualized approach (especially if the client is lesser-known). Due to their size, smaller agencies offer more comprehensive services and tend to cover all types of productions and markets for their clients. Overall, an agent can work for a client on a short-term basis or on a per-project basis; contracts generally run one to three years. Typically, the agent receives the client’s paychecks, deducts a commission of 10-20% of all income, including fees, royalties and profit participation (note that the state’s labor commissioner may approve up to 20% but Guild franchise agreements usually limit the commission to 10%) and then pays the client the balance. Agencies representing guild members must be franchised by the specific talent guild and must obey the guild’s agency rules. Established agencies are members of the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) and the ATA negotiates the agency regulation agreements with guilds like SAG-AFTRA, the AEA, the WGA and the DGA.

If the client finds work on their own, the agent is still entitled to a commission, under the terms of most agency agreements. Sometimes you’ll hear the term “packaging the project”– this is when an agency works closely with a producer, actively helping them to sell the project to a distributor and supplying many of its own clients to the cast and staff. For this work, the agency receives 5% or more of the project’s revenues. Fortunately, the agency usually does not deduct commissions from the client’s individual income when they package a project. Finally, an agency frequently negotiates the basic terms and conditions of every agreement and then the agency’s attorney or the talent’s individual attorney handle the details and draft a written agreement.

Unlike an agent, a manager is not required to be licensed or bonded by the state of New York or California. He or she also don’t have to be franchised by the guilds. In essence anyone can be a manager, which is why many celebrities hire their best friend or close relative to be their manager. As a result, there is no real limit to what commission a manager may ask for as long as the client is willing to pay. Traditionally, the manager’s role was to provide day-to-day and long-term career advice while being the middle person with the client’s other representatives. But the lines blur between what an agent does and what a manager does. Legally, a manager is not permitted to deal with the solicitation and procurement of their clients’ employment unless they become a licensed “talent agent”. However, managers have been known to blur this line repeatedly.

There are two types of managers: the business manager and the personal manager. The business manager helps the client oversee the day-to-day financial aspects of their business life. A business manager typically receive all incoming checks, keep the checkbook, make sure that the taxes are paid correctly and on time, deal with banks, negotiate and purchase property, pay the bills, keep track of receipts for tax preparation and work with the accountant to prepare taxes. As compensation, a business manager may charge a flat monthly fee or a commission of 5% of the client’s income.

The personal manager is the person one usually associates with a talent manager. The personal manager is the one who is directly responsible for helping the talent on their career path. Note how little distinction there is between the manager and the agent; the personal manager is supposed to build a CAREER and an agent is supposed to get JOBS. The law recognizes that there are overlaps with what an agent does and what a manager does. However, in personal-management contracts, there are usually clauses that insist that a manager is not qualified to act as an agent and that she or he will not help the client find work. Instead, the personal manager offers advice and guidance. So why get a manager if you already have an agent? In the real world, a good personal manager sells access to powerful movers and shakers and provides personal attention that is valuable to the talent’s growth. Also, where an agent is likely to represent 50 clients or so, a personal manager handles only 5 or 10, maybe even just one. A personal manager is intimately involved in the client’s life, helping the client make career decisions– from how he or she looks to the company he or she keeps to the roles they should accept or reject. All the while, introducing the client to people who can make a difference. As compensation, the personal manager’s fee ranges from 15% to 25% of ALL of the client’s entertainment income. But there is no limit and some shady managers have been known to take up to 50% of a client’s income.

The four main jobs of the attorney are to help a client obtain representation, negotiate and document the deals, protect the client with respect to legal aspects of a deal and to “solve problems”. Instead of a fee percentage, attorneys are usually paid for their hours. However, they can also be paid a flat rate, profit points and a combination of ways. Some clients are good dealmakers in their own right and only need to consult the attorney to plan the terms. These types of clients remain in contact with the attorney in case problems crop up during negotiation. Some clients are very hands-off and may also ask the lawyer to be the dealmaker instead, freeing up the client to attend to other matters, while the lawyer does the work. Usually, a lawyer may draft an agreement from notes on a napkin between the client and another party or the lawyer may draft an entire agreement from information gathered over time. A lawyer may also be asked to simply review a contract drafted by the other party.

Many times a lawyer may refer talent to a top agent or manager for representation if they feel the talent has promise but they try not to do this often to avoid conflicts of interest. Lawyers are also available to advise talent on business ventures they are curious about or if they have legal problems within or without the entertainment industry. Industry problems that an attorney solves include breached contracts, rights clearances and finance issues (for example, an agreed-upon payment not making it according to schedule). Other issues that a performer may need a lawyer to address are issues related to employment practices, copyright, criminal matters, possible instances of libel or slander and personal injuries. Lawyers are also hired by clients to be like an “attack dog,” writing cease-and-desist letters or making the veiled threat at a meeting. While agents and managers can also be aggressive, it doesn’t carry the same heft as it does from a lawyer because they are in the best position to initiate litigation. In each of these situations, the talent can control the amount of work done by the lawyer by limiting the scope of representation or the hours. Hourly fees may range from $200/hour to $400/hour. They may also bill on a fixed-fee or flat fee basis ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

Do I need all three?
While all talent at various points in their career will need and hire an agent, a manager and an attorney, it’s not always necessary (or affordable) to have all three at the same time. That team of three is usually the province of the top 10% of moneyed talent. And since all talent aspires to make it to the top, having a good team is a surefire way to get there and stay there.  

Practically speaking, most talent tends to have either an agent or a manager and only hire an attorney when they have a specific legal matter to attend to. Sometimes they have one playing the roles of the others (for as much as they can legally overlap); some agents and managers have legal training, certifications and experiences while some attorneys can, like an agent or a manager, help talent with representation, business and career advice and setting up meetings with key executives. Talent will do well to think of a long-term plan on how to put together his or her team of attorney, agent and manager. 

In the immediate future, to truly know whether one needs all three at THIS point in their career, the talent needs to know what one is really looking for and what the talent has to offer. Truth be told, as much as the talent wants an agent and a manager, if one is not at a point in his or her career where he or she can afford the commission, it’s unlikely he or she will have an agent or a manager. And while an attorney can help talent find representation, the attorney will also want to vet the talent to make sure they can deliver (and can pay for the attorney’s time as well).

For most talent, the first step to building their team is to get one of the three in their corner. It’s not always clear who should be the first to get since there are pros and cons to each. For example, a manager is probably easier to get than an agent or an attorney since the manager does not have to be licensed and the manager can be a good friend or relative the talent trusts. But the manager might not have the credibility, skills, experience or connections that an agent or an attorney have. Also a manager’s fees might end up being more costly than an agent’s or an attorney’s in the long run. On the other hand, getting an agent from a well-respected agency is a good sign that your career has legs and a good agent can open doors for you in a way that an attorney or a manager can’t or won’t. Their commission is capped off and only payable if the talent makes money so they have a strong incentive to help you get work. However, they are extremely busy and might be catering to the career of the hotshot in their stable (who might not be you) and you would be left on your own to procure work. And to add insult to injury, under most agency contracts, you would likely still have to pay them even if they didn’t help you find work. Finally, an agent and a manager might be compromised by their self-interest to get paid and so push the talent to take whatever job pays even if it’s not best for their long-term career. Unlike agents and managers, an attorney provides services and advice in a mostly neutral manner (provided that their firm doesn’t also represent a studio or production company negotiating with the talent) and has a fiduciary duty to look out for the client and advocate for them to the utmost. Also, their specialized knowledge of the industry, its dealmakers and their contracts along with their mastery of the relevant legal issues could be extremely helpful beyond what an agent and a manager offer.

Danny Jiminian is an attorney who specializes in Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property, Business Law and Nonprofits and practices out of New York. For a free consultation, reach him at his website.

Matter included here or in linked websites may not be current. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional before relying on any written commentary. No attorney client relationship is established by the viewing, use, or communication in any manner through this web site. Nothing on this blog or blog posting is official legal advice; it's just information and opinion. If you want to, you can visit my professional website and hire me by clicking here.

HOLA Member Bochinche

Bochinche refers to “gossip”. In this sense, we use it to mention HOLA members or Friends of HOLA who are getting acting, performance or similarly artistic gigs and/or recognition in the media. The names of HOLA members and Friends of HOLA are listed below in boldface. To see what other HOLA members are doing currently, click here.

Mariana Parma, shown at right, guest-starred in an episode of the NBC television series "The Blacklist", where she was able to demonstrate her tango-dancing ability.

A.B. Lugo will be performing his self-penned solo show Manchild Machismo. Directed by Omar Pérez, the show will take place in April as part of The ONE Festival at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. For more information about the festival, click here.

Also performing in The ONE Festival this year will be Rhina Valentín, who will present her solo show La Nena Del Barrio - Free StyleThe show, written by Andrés Chulisi Rodríguez and Valentín, will also take place in April as part of The ONE Festival at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. For more information about the festival, click here.

Vladimir Ríos completed the first of three photo series where he will portray The Warrior of Hope (photos by  Lester Blum, shown at left with Ríos, in the photo at left; costume design by Dmitry Byalik). The Warrior of Hope is personifying the concept of "hope" for those who are ill, downtrodden, and oppressed against inequality, injustice, and disease. The photo series will be presented at a gallery show at the Project Space of the Leslie Lohman Museum and Gallery in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. For more information, click here and here.

Joel Luna wrote and will co-star in the feature film El Gallo (produced by Monte Bezell and directed by Ali Abouomar). The film will start production filming in New York City in spring 2015.

If you are an HOLA member or a Friend of HOLA and want to submit a bochinche item, send us an e-mail. If you live in the New York metropolitan area and want to be an HOLA member, why not join? If you live outside the New York metropolitan area and want to be an HOLA member, you can find out more information on how to do so by clicking here. If you are not a Friend of HOLA, why not become one?

HOLA Member Bochinche

Bochinche refers to “gossip”. In this sense, we use it to mention HOLA members or Friends of HOLA who are getting acting, performance or similarly artistic gigs and/or recognition in the media. The names of HOLA members and Friends of HOLA are listed below in boldface. To see what other HOLA members are doing currently, click here.

Lisann Valentín, shown at right, was featured in Broadway World, where it highlighted her role in the production The Church of Y Not. Produced by Theatre 167, the play was written by Camilo Almonacid, Jenny Lyn Bader and J. Stephen Brantley and directed (and conceived) by Ari Laura Kreith, it will be presented in February and March at The West End Theater, located in Manhattan's Upper West Side. To read the article, click here.

Eduardo Ramos made an appearance in "The Steve Harvey Show" (syndicated) and acted in an episode of "Inside Amy Schumer" (Comedy Central).

Marisol Carrere, shown at left, will be honored by the Latin American Intercultural Alliance and New York State Senator José R. Peralta as part of a Women's History Month celebration. She was cited as an independent woman who has set her heart on their community's development and progress and as a role model to women. The celebration will take place on Saturday afternoon, March 14, 2015 at the Renaissance Charter School Auditorium in the Jackson Heights area of Queens.

Jay Santiago booked a gig as a spokesman for an AmeriHealth industrial.

MultiStages will be presenting Comida de p*ta (F%&ing Lousy Food). Written by Desi Moreno Penson, it will be directed by Lorca Peress and presented in April at the West End Theatre in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The cast of this production stars Mariana Parma, Gustavo Heredia, Marcos Sotomayor, Alex Hernández, Darlenis Durán and Roseanne Almanzar, and will have projections featuring the talents of Suni Reyes, Anita Vélez-Mitchell and Jane Vélez-Mitchell. For more information, click here.

If you are an HOLA member or a Friend of HOLA and want to submit a bochinche item, send us an e-mail. If you live in the New York metropolitan area and want to be an HOLA member, why not join? If you live outside the New York metropolitan area and want to be an HOLA member, you can find out more information on how to do so by clicking here. If you are not a Friend of HOLA, why not become one?

2015 Hollywood Diversity Report Released by UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies– Confirms What We Already Know (That Diversity Still Has A Long Way To Go in Hollywood)

Hollywood's racial and gender diversity is increasing. But it's not increasing quickly enough, says Darnell Hunt, lead author of the second annual Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, which was released Thursday, February 25, 2015. "Hollywood is not progressing at the same rate as America is diversifying," says Hunt, the center's director and a sociology professor. The U.S. population is about 40 percent minority and slightly more than half female, but, in news to no one, women and minorities are represented onscreen and behind the camera in drastically lesser proportions, the study indicates.  
The problem isn't audiences: During the years the study surveys — 2012 and 2013 — viewers preferred films and television shows with moderately diverse casts, according to Nielsen ratings and box-office reports. "Audiences, regardless of their race, are clamoring for more diverse content," says co-author Ana-Christina Ramón.

Check out the rest of Austin Siegemund-Broka's article in The Hollywood Reporter by clicking hereTo read the UCLA Bunche Center report, titled 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping The Script, click here.

Film and TV Production To Return To The Bronx

Location of York Studios property
along The Bronx River in the
Soundview neighborhood
of The Bronx, NYC.
After several decades of no studio activity (since Biograph Studios closed in the 1970s), film and television production will return to The Bronx in New York City. York Studios is set to bring film and television back to the mainland NYC borough with the construction of three buildings totaling about 300,000 square feet on a 10-acre lot in the neighborhood of Soundview along The Bronx River which was purchased by the company for $7.2 million in October of 2012 (the property is actually an assemblage of three separate, adjacent lots). The company currently operates out of a 40,000 square foot facility in Queens where the hit CBS television series "Elementary" is filmed.

Proposed site for the York Studios
location in Soundview.
When completed, it will join Silvercup and Kaufman Astoria (both based in Queens); and Steiner and Broadway Stages (both based in Brooklyn, though the latter has sound stages all over the city), as the major studios located in New York City.

For more information about the studio site, including its construction schedule, check out this Ed García Conde article in Welcome2TheBronx (which also features a quote from HOLA Executive Board member Edwin Pagán), by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

HBO Launches HBOAccess Writing Fellowship

On the heels of its inaugural HBOAccess Directing Fellowship, HBO today announced it has launched the HBOAccess Writing Fellowship, which is seeking emerging writers from diverse backgrounds. Applications for the program will be accepted beginning March 4. Participants will attend a week of master classes at HBO’s Santa Monica campus that will focus on character and story development, pitching ideas and projects, securing an agent, and networking. Each participant will then go on to an eight-month writing phase where he/she will be paired with an HBO development executive and guided through the script development process. At the conclusion of the program, HBO will hold a reception and staged reading for industry professionals where the writers will be introduced to the entertainment industry.

Last year, four directors were selected for the HBOAccess Directing Fellowship. The program ended with the production of four short films which are set to air in March on HBO On Demand and HBO GO.

The HBOAccess Writing Fellowship is open to writers 21 and older who must be able to work in the U.S. Prior to the application, the writer must not have been staffed on a network or cable series in excess of 13 episodes and/or had more than one feature film or more than two plays produced.

All submissions must be made through the online portal, Without A Box, and will require a resume, a writing sample, a completed release form and a personal essay in 500 words or less explaining how his/her background has influenced his/her storytelling. For more information on eligibility, visit here.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

HOLAwave: How I Got To Broadway (Part 1)

[HOLAwave represents a series of guest blogs by industry insiders giving informative and educational tidbits for the Latino performer. They can range from acting and auditioning advice, tech tips, legal advice, marketing, producing tips, and so on. Get caught up in the wave– the HOLAwave.]


The cast of the musical
Fun Home (Joel Pérez
is at far left, standing).
Photo by Joan Marcus.
Hello, El Blog de HOLA! This is Joel Pérez here. You might recognize me from such films as Joel's First Birthday, or Joel Plays the Gingerbread Man in the 2nd Grade Play. That was some of my best work. But honestly, I'm insanely excited to make my Broadway debut with the incredible new musical, Fun Home. It's a wonderful show with some of the best people in the business. And somehow they let me sneak in. Maybe it's because I always bring snacks to rehearsal. Who knows?

Some people have asked me how I got to Broadway and the answer is quite simple: I moved to New York City, walked right up to the Broadway Employment Center and gave them my headshot and resume. The Broadway Labor Services Representative said, "You're in luck! We have SO MANY jobs for Latinos on Broadway that we're just handing them out to anyone who's even passably ethnic." What a treat, and ¡FUÁCATA!, Broadway happened. So yeah, that's how you get to Broadway. Good night!

Of course that is a total sack of dookie. The truth is, getting to Broadway is as elusive as the G train. But with perseverance, and luck, it can happen. Or maybe that's not your journey, and that's cool too.

For me it was a mix of many things. So I'll start at the beginning. 

(Cue violin music.)

My love for theater began at church. My father is a Pentecostal minister of a Spanish Assemblies of God Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and I think we can all agree that church is all about THEATRICS. So, from an early age I was singing and playing the drums in the worship team. I enjoyed telling stories, but I never saw performing as a viable life goal.

I went to a private Catholic high school with mostly white people and a theater program and all hopes of my becoming a doctor went out the window. Oops! I loved being on stage and being a part of an ensemble, but bright Puerto Rican kids can't be actors. You have to have a "real job," so I went to Tufts University for college and spent the first year still holding on the the delusion that I was supposed to be Pre-Med. But... then I got into a production of Hair, got naked on stage and was like, "Who the hell am I kidding?" I got into a conservatory program abroad called the British American Drama Academy in London and that sealed the deal. Being an actor is what I want to do.

After graduating Tufts, I spent a year in Boston doing theater and getting lots of experience in commercials and film. I knew that I wanted to move to NYC, but taking a year to build up my resume and figure out the kind of actor I wanted to be, was invaluable. I spent two summers at the Williamstown Theater Festival as both an apprentice and later as a part of the non-Equity company. (If you're a young actor looking to get some experience, I can't recommend this place enough. It changed my life.) 

The whole time I was living in Boston, I would drive down to NYC for auditions. I auditioned for EVERYTHING. I was that insane person who would show up to an audition at 5AM and would wait around all day with the hope of getting seen. And one day I did. It was a snowy day and I drove down to NYC to go to an EPA of In the Heights. I got there super early, signed up and waited. For a while. Sometime after lunch they were finally able to see some non-Equity actors and I went in there and gave what I thought was a really good audition. But I heard nothing back. So, I went back to Boston and kept working. 

About a year and a half later, I had already moved to NYC and had started acting with awesome companies like Pregones Theater. Rosal Colón and I would perform a show called Texting 4 Life in schools all around the Bronx. I was waiting tables and doing the grind when out of the blue I get a call from Telsey Casting asking me to come in and audition for the national tour of In the Heights. I dropped everything I was doing and after about 5 callbacks, I booked the job, my dream job.

But how does Fun Home factor into all of this? Well, after the tour was over, I was back in NYC, doing the audition game and was asked to participate in a Latino MixFest reading of the musical Kingdom at Atlantic Theater Company. If you're brown and do musicals, you've probably been in some version of Kingdom. The reading ended up being slightly derailed by Hurricane Irene, but I became very good friends with the book writer, Aaron Jafferis. Shortly after that reading he asked me to be a part of another musical he was working on called Stuck Elevator at the Sundance Theater Lab. Of course I said yes and we spent three weeks in Florida developing the show.

Lisa Kron and
Jeanine Tesori.
Unbeknownst to me, Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron happened to be participating in the Sundance Theater Lab as well, developing their new musical, Fun Home. I had been a fan of Jeanine Tesori for years and was thrilled to have the opportunity to get to know her. And the structure of these Sundance Labs are such that you work during the day, but at night we have dinner together and socialize. I hit it off with Lisa and Jeanine and at one point they turned to me and said, "You should be in our musical. We already cast a reading we're doing soon, but we will definitely keep you in mind for the future." I smiled and was gracious, but didn't really think much of it. But about a year later, Fun Home was getting a proper workshop at the Sundance Theater Lab in Utah and I was asked to be a part of it. 

I set off for the mountains of Utah thinking, What the hell am I getting myself into?

To be continued....

Joel Pérez is a performer living in Brooklyn, NY. He's done work on TV in "Person of Interest" (CBS), "The Big C" (Showtime), and "Black Box" (ABC). He has toured nationally and internationally in In the Heights and Fame. He will star in the upcoming Broadway production of Fun Home after originating the role off-Broadway at The Public Theater. He has participated in developmental labs with the Sundance Theater Lab, Soho Rep, Atlantic Theater Company, and many others. He has also worked on several commercials and voice-overs. He's an ensemble member of Broken Box Mime Theater and Pregones Theater. He studied at Tufts University, The British American Drama Academy and Upright Citizen's Brigade. He is repped by BRS/GAGE and Abrams Artists Agency. For more information, click here.