In order to live the life of our dreams, we need to identify what inspires us and to become so addicted by that tingling feeling in our soul that we give ourselves entirely to the pursuit of it and to seek it everywhere and in everything. That process of seeking inspiration will lead to an expansion of knowledge on the subject which will lead to more inspiration which will inevitably lead us to take action. We will need to let go of anything that will hinder us and hold us back. We will need to leap wholeheartedly into the unknown. This process can be terrifying and there will be tons of people who will tell us that our dreams are delusional but if we don’t listen to those voices and continue listening to our hearts then we will begin to find affirmation in coincidences that will appear as signs that we are on the right path. How do I know this? Well let me tell you a story….
When I was in my early twenties, I was a college football player but I was also fascinated with the realism of independent films and had this feeling like “I could do that”. I heard a voice whispering in my soul wondering, “How do people get into acting?”. One day while in the football locker room I heard my teammates talking about a class called “Theater Studies” where you could work for the university’s theater department and receive 3 credits and an easy A. Most of my teammates were looking to work in the concession stand or help build sets in order to earn that easy A
While at the orientation I was surprised to learn that there was an acting class being offered every twice a week. So I timidly snuck over to the sign-up table and put my name on the list for the acting class. The teacher told me to come back on Tuesday with a monologue but I didn’t know what a monologue was so I just showed up and winged it. I soon discovered that I had a knack for this acting thing and that it came pretty natural for me but I also was aware that there was still so much more to learn and the only way I was going to grow as an actor was to gain experience. In order to do that I would need the courage to audition and when I got the opportunity to perform I needed make the most of it.
After performing in a number of plays in college I felt like I had truly found myself and realized that I was an artist and that acting was what I wanted to do with my life. But in order to do that it meant that I would have to leave the comfort of my hometown of New Bedford Massachusetts. I fantasized about living as an explorer traveling and collecting meaningful experiences. I saw myself being based in one of the big cities of New York or Los Angeles where I would channel my experiences into my art. When I shared my vision with the peers that I grew up with they thought that I had lost my mind. They saw my dream as a fantasy. They had never known anyone who wanted to pursue a career as an actor and neither had I. I had no idea where to start or what my next step should be.
After college, I was entirely in limbo. I knew that I was leaving my hometown, but I had no idea where I was going or how I was going to get there. I didn’t even have a car at the time and thought I’d just do what I saw people doing in the movies which were to take a bus. Then one day a friend of mine wakes me up early one morning and drives me over to see a woman that he thought could help me figure it all out. He brought me to her doorstep and told me her name was Maria and just to go in. She was an elderly woman in a wheelchair. The first thing she said to me was “Who was in Florida?” I said well my parents live in Florida. Then she asked me “Who is Jorge?” I said, “Uh that’s my father’s name”. She went on to tell me that my father was not feeling well (which I already knew) but then she said that he was going to be ok. (something I didn’t know). Suddenly I became very humbled and my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t understand how this woman who didn’t know anything about me was suddenly telling me things about my life that were very specific and quite serious. She then went on to affirm that I was preparing to leave the area and I was about to start a new life elsewhere. I asked her where she saw me going. She said that when I first walked in that she felt Florida very strongly. That was was confusing to me because Florida was not where I thought I needed to be to pursue an acting career. I felt that moving back to live with my parents would be a step backward. I feared that I would get complacent and maybe not ever pursuit my passion. But when I stopped to think about it, my father was not feeling well, and so perhaps it’d be best to check up on my father, and maybe while I was there, I could save some money until I was able to make a more strategic move. So I packed up an old car that a friend had given me and I drove right past New York City and headed south to Florida.
Shortly after arriving in Florida I went to a temporary employment agency to find a job and even though the woman looking at my resume did not have any opportunities in my field of interest she told me that she coincidentally read an article in the local newspaper about a Hollywood producer who was coming to town to shoot a movie and she just so happened to write down the information. I bravely contacted the production company and offered my services and ended up working on my very first movie set as a production assistant. It was pretty incredible. There I was in Florida working with a movie crew from Hollywood. Through that experience, I met some interesting people who told me about other opportunities in Florida. One of them was an audition that led to me landing my very first professional acting role in a play in Hollywood, FLORIDA.
Another day while I was walking down the street in Miami kind of lost I was approached by a photographer who asked if I’d be interested in doing a photo shoot with him and so I did. He ended up showing my photos to a woman who owned one of the most prestigious modeling agencies in the world. She then set me up with a meeting with one of the most famous fashion photographers in the world who at the time was shooting all of the major campaigns for designers like Ralph Lauren, Versace and to name a few. Soon after that meeting, I was on a plane heading back to of all places Salem, Massachusetts to shoot an ad campaign for Gianni Versace. This shoot would mark the beginning of a very eventful and successful modeling career that would take me not only to New York City but would also satisfy my need for adventure and travel all throughout the world.
Though modeling was satisfying my desire for travel and adventure, my ultimate desire was to be an actor. The modeling was just a means that allowed me to make a living in New York and to study acting at one of the more well known acting schools in the city. It was at that time when blessed with the greatest role of my life and that was to become a dad. And though I was completely consumed with the joy of fatherhood, it definitely caused me to hunker down and intensify my focus on my true goals. I was blessed to encounter a group called The Absolute Theater Co. which was an amazing community of actors and writers and through that collaboration, I was able to fulfill my dream of performing on the OFF Broadway stage. One of our plays was attended by none other than the legendary actor Al Pacino who made a financial contribution to the company which allowed us to showcase the play in Los Angeles. That showcase allowed me to court a manager and truly get the ball rolling for me in Hollywood. For 6 months I would spend 3 weeks in LA and 3 weeks in NY but it wasn’t too long before I landed my very first film role and roles on TV shows soon followed.
The life of an actor is a tumultuous one. There are so many ups and downs. As I’ve described I’ve experienced some pretty magical affirmations but for every YES there were 100’s of NO. I have felt exuberant elation and long stretches of lonely hardship. But ultimately I believe that everything happens for a reason and it all has a purpose. Both the inspiration and life’s challenges if used properly can serve to strengthen your resolve to keep you sharp as you continue to cut your own path. It’s been over twenty years since I graduated from the University of Massachusetts. My artistic journey has been a long and winding road but through the ups and downs, I am proud to say that I never quit and I am still on this adventurous, still pursuing and achieving my dreams . This week I will be shooting a car commercial, probably the 5th or 6th car commercial of my career, this one is for Toyota. And in a few weeks, you will be able to see me in a very precarious situation playing a guest star role on the FX show called LEGIONS. I will be sure to keep you posted on when it will air.
I hope my story serves to inspire you to take a leap of faith and go after your “dream”. Block out all of your doubts and doubters and follow your passion wholeheartedly. Let inspiration guide you on your path toward your soul’s true fulfillment.