Interview with Actor and Writer Nasir Villanueva

How do you identify?  How does your identity affect your work?
I am Afro-Mexican originally from Monterrey, Mexico. It affects my work in many ways.  Having two nationalities in my blood (Mexican and Nigerian) has given me an open mind to people from different cultures, and religious backgrounds.


What are you working on currently?
 Currently I am working on writing my own films and plays and recruiting the actors and crew to make them come alive on the screen and stage.
Right now, I’m focused on two films in particular that I wrote. The first is called Roommate Lies which deals with the struggles of drug, alcohol, opioid, domestic, and homophobic abuse between people who know each other very well but don’t listen to each other and don’t know their personal struggles. The other one, which will take some time to get up and running, is a film that I will be shooting in black and white.  It is set in the prohibition era in the south.  This film deals with race relations, trust, love, hatred, racism and despair.

Why do you act?

 I act because I love it.   I’m definitely obsessed with it. To be able to jump inside the mind, body and soul of a character.  To feel what they feel and see what they see is a beautiful thing. I act to understand human beings and get closer to what it is to live a life without judgement not to see through characters and people in general but to see them for who they are, what they believe in and do what they do for their own personal reasons.


What has been a challenge in your career?

 There are many challenges. The biggest challenge for me is the casting process.  Since I am ethnically ambiguous, its more of a challenge to cast me. In the eyes of the industry, I do not look “black” enough to play black” and “Mexican enough to play Mexican” whatever the hell that means.   That hasn’t stopped me from continuing my career because the industry has and is changing dramatically which is good to see.


Where did you go to school, train or learn your craft?

Stella Adler Studio of Acting New York City Evening Conservatory Class of 2014. My teachers always pushed me to give more and more to my training and also let me know which areas I needed to improve in. They helped me so much in class but also outside of class to deal with being an actor in the Big Apple. That training prepared me for any audition, callback, denial, and dry spell that comes with the territory of being an actor.


What is the most amazing thing about this career?

 The most amazing thing about this career is the relationships you build with your fellow artists, all the teachers, directors, casting directors, producers, etc. that keep in touch with you no matter where they are in the world or in their careers. Another beautiful and amazing thing is when you get to work with them again because you pick up right from where you left off.


What advice would you give to Black, Latinx and Afrolatinx theatre artists?
 Wow that’s a tough one… Read as many plays, screenplays, and books by artists that are creating work for characters that are like you  but with that said I think also looking at things that are so far from you as well is good.  I believe there is something to learn from everyone and anyone in the world regardless of where they come from or what they believe in.
Also expand your music playlists! Mix some classical, hip hop, rock, salsa, etc. even if something you wouldn’t normally listen to, give it a try you mind find something new to apply to your character and to yourself.
Step out of your comfort zone to get a feel and understanding why things make you angry, depressed, violent etc. and write it down in a journal to keep finding out new things about yourself.
Meet with people who have the same goals as you do and that are positive, the last thing especially in this business is negativity.
Try to stay off of social media as much as possible and go to nature instead.
Don’t compare your life and career to your fellow actors everyone has a different path. Live life to the fullest and have zero regrets, leave the past in the past, the future in the future and just live in the moment.

How can people find your work?
My demo reel is on www.vimeo.com/nasirvillanueva (still working on my website)

 

Pa’lante

#Teatrolatinegro


 

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