Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jesse Garcia Is Young Hollywood

All Photos:  Alan Mercer

Jesse Garcia moved to Los Angeles in 2003. His first steady work was in commercials. In 2005 he was featured in nine national campaigns including those for McDonalds, Toyota, Avis, and Miller beer. His episodic television and film work included Edward James Olmos' "Walkout," for HBO and guest spots on "ER," "The Shield," "The Closer," "Unfabulous," and "Justice," "Law and Order: CI," and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

Jesse stars in the award-winning film 'Quinceañera', executive produced by Todd Haynes, which won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in the Dramatic Independent Feature Competition. 'Quinceañera' was also selected to play at the Berlin Film Festival. Jesse won Best Actor at the 2007 Alma Awards for his role as Carlos, in 'Quinceañera.' 

Jesse was back at the Sundance Festival the following two years. In 2007, starring in "La Misma Luna" ("The Same Moon"), released in September, 2007 in Mexico and in March, 2008 in the U.S. and Canada. He stars alongside Kate del Castillo and America Ferrera. He also stars in 'Good Dick,' with Jason Ritter.

Jesse recently wrapped Alejandro Chomski's "A Beautiful Life," Duane Allen Humeyestewa's "Periphery," and "Days of Wrath" with Laurence Fishburne, Wilmer Valderrama, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Anna Claudia Talancon. Set in LA, "Wrath" is the story of the intertwining lives of a dedicated teacher, aggressive TV news crews, and rival gangs.

He appeared in the 2010 revival of The Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway and Los Angeles.  He was excellent as Sergio the Handyman.

I first became aware of Jesse Garcia when 'Quinceañera' came out in 2006.  He gave such a strong performance in his role as a young Latino man struggling with his sexuality.  I knew we would be seeing more of him soon and he hasn't stopped working yet!  Jesse represents young Hollywood at it's finest!

AM:  Jesse I know you grew up in Wyoming.  How long have you lived in Los Angeles?

JG:  I've been living here since 2003, so almost eight years.

AM:  How do you get from Wyoming to Los Angeles?

JG:  Well it wasn't a direct line.  I had a cheerleading scholarship and I went to school in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Then I moved to Atlanta, Georgia and lived there for three and a half years. 

AM:  But your goal must have been to get to Los Angeles.

JG:  No it never was.  Acting wasn't my dream. 

AM:  What was your dream?

JG:  I don't know if I had one.  I was really big into fitness at the time.  I was an exercise science major so I could be a trainer for a sports team. 

AM:  What happened to change your destiny?

JG:  I met this girl, Jennifer and she convinced me to move to Atlanta and study acting with her.  This guy, who is now a great friend and mentor, named Judson Vaughn from 'What Films' in Atlanta had a forty-five minute conversation over the phone with me and in the time of the conversation I decided I was going to move to Atlanta to study acting.  So I went back to Wyoming and packed my stuff and told my parents I was moving to Atlanta in a week. 

AM:  How did your parents react to this news?

JG:  I've always been spontaneous with things that I do so they were supportive.  It was surprising because I have a Mexican Mother and she tripped out when I moved eight hours away to Lincoln. 

AM:  Have you grown up connected to your Latin roots?

JG:  Not really.  I grew up in a small town in Wyoming with seven or eight hundred people.  There weren't many Latinos there.

AM:  When did you start getting into Latin culture?

JG:  I didn't get exposed to Latino culture until I moved to LA.  I knew of it and I was always attracted to it.  My Dad was from Mexico but surviving and putting food on the table was his main focus.  I kind of grew up...not Latino.  It made me who I am.  I do wish I would have been exposed to it more.  My Dad did play Tejano and other Latin music.  Being in a small town I wanted to assimilate and learning to speak Spanish wasn't something I wanted to do.  Now all that stuff is attractive to me!  I really wish my parents would have spoke Spanish to me when I was a kid. 

AM:  Did you come to LA and embrace the Latino Film community?

JG:  Yes I did.  I totally embraced it.  I started getting exposed to it when I booked the movie 'Walkout.'  I started learning about the 1968 and 69 walkouts in East LA.  Even when I was a little kid I had this kind of "civil rights movement" mind.  To grow up in a small town and have an open mind is kind of unusual. 

AM:  You do have an open mind.  Do you think you were born that way?

JG:  I don't know.  I'm not really sure why I have such an open mind.  We also grew up in a very strict religious household.  I was raised Jehovah Witness.  It is interesting that I have an open mind. 

AM:  After hearing this I think it is how you are born.

JG:  It must be. 

AM:  You seem to be working non-stop!

JG:  I work really hard man.  When I moved out here I knew that I wanted to act and that I was going to succeed.  I was on-line everyday for a couple hours a day submitting and looking for things on-line.  This was eight years ago so this was before there was a lot on the internet.  Times have changed.  I had to really put in some effort to find anything back then. 

AM:  The movie 'Quinceañera' really put you on the map.

JG:  Yes it was because of 'Quinceañera' that I went to Sundance and won a bunch of awards.  I also won an Alma award.  

AM:  You're very lucky to have a movie like that. 

JG:  That movie opened up a lot of doors for not only Latino films but Independent films in general. 

AM:  Did you have a hesitation or concern to play a gay character so early in your career?

JG:  Not at all.  One thing I didn't realize was that I was going to have a social responsibility to go along with the success of the film.  I learned a lot about the gay community and how they reacted to this film.  The amount of young Latino gay men that would email me on facebook and myspace was amazing.  Some of them didn't know how to deal with any of the issues and the feelings they were going through.  I'm really proud of that movie.

AM:  You should be.  I have a feeling this is just the first important film you will make and that you will have many films ahead of you.

JG:  I hope so.  Even 'Under The Same Moon' is a really powerful film.  Somehow I'm able to attract a lot of really cool films that have a lot of powerful things to say. 

AM:  I think it's because you come off as very real.

JG:  Thank you, I still have about six or seven films that haven't come out yet.  I really hope 'Days Of Wrath' comes out soon.  It's a really good movie.  I'm producing and doing my own stuff now.  I'm working on getting a directing career going as well.  I'm starting my own production company so I can change the way some things get done.  I want to bring attention to new filmmakers, writers, producers and artists. 

AM:  Do you want to focus on Latino themes?

JG:  I'm very much a Latino advocate and I think it's important to make Latino films but I also think it's about content.  Unfortunately there is a lot of really bad Latino content out there.  When the industry gets saturated with bad content that Latinos are making, it makes it hard for the industry to take us seriously.  The main problem we're having is Latinos don't support Latinos.

AM:  Why is that?

JG:  There is a segregation between the Latino cultures.  There are so many different cultures and we all have our own pride within our cultures.  If a Mexican film comes out, other Latino cultures often don't think the film has anything to do with them or they can't relate to the story.  If we are going to make an impact on the industry it's important for all of us to support each others movies, TV shows, web series...everything.  Latinos spend a lot of money going to the theaters but they don't spend it on the Latin films. 

AM:  Tell me about working on Pee Wee's Playhouse on Broadway! 

JG:  That was amazing!!!  I never thought I would be on Broadway!  That was my third play ever.  It was fun doing eight shows a week in New York. 

AM:  What do you get asked a lot by younger people?

JG:  The most common thing I get asked is, "How do I get into acting?"  Mostly I tell people to be very pro-active.  You have to study.  Do a lot of improv, sketch comedy and scene study.  Be ready!  Go on-line everyday and submit yourself for things you are not even right for.  I've booked jobs that I wasn't right for.  You just have to be pro-active.  When people come to LA they can get caught up in surviving.  Don't lose your focus as to why you came to LA.  So many people get caught up in paying the bills and granted you have to do that, but don't forget why you came here.


  1. Alan ,
    Great blog with Jesse Garcia , I have been watching his work over the years and he is so much on the rise . As you mentioned he is very believable in his roles , and has a passion for the roles he chooses . I love the honestly of his answers to your questions . He already has an amazing body of work , not only is Jesse talented but he is very handsome as well . He is going places , we are going to see so much more from this young talent, fantastic blog Alan , and the photographs came out beautiful , such a great variety of shots . Thanks for highlighting his work ! Have a fantastic week Alan xoxo

  2. The photos are very cool, Alan! I enjoyed learning more about Jesse! Congratulations on another great job!!

  3. Alan, another great interview with a most interesting person. As always, your photos are great and really show what a sexy man he is.

  4. It's great to be back and see my favorite photographer's work. Excellent, Alan.

  5. Dear Alan,
    thank you for another wonderful Blog. The images are simply marvelous. Love the deep rich blues. Good luck to Jesse Garcia. Keep up the beautiful work. The right stuff!
    All my love,
    Tommy Monroe