In an era and business where one needs to do what they can to stand out, itâ€™s rare you hear of sincere support among peers. Yes, thereâ€™s smiles, and gatherings, and toasts, and side-support comments, but beneath all that, thereâ€™s a sense of selfish survival. One that embarks beyond the fittest â€“ and thatâ€™s just white people, ladies and gentleman. Imagine what it must be like for those who arenâ€™t?
Well, in this day-and-age where biases still exist, I think progressiveness seems to be peaking. With a diverse history of various artists making their names known via solid work, Hollywood has no choice but to acknowledge those who seem to be spicing up the scenery. Like it or not, want it or not, thereâ€™s a force to be reckoned with known as Latinos!
Showing up in droves within many entertainment-based outlets, cinema seems to be having a broader scope among us. Weâ€™ve seen and heard them all. You name itâ€¦ Eva Longoria, Benicio de Toro, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, Michelle Rodriguez, Gael GarcÃa Bernal, Zoe Saldana, Luis Guzman, America Ferrara and many others have made their mark in one way, shape, or form. Their resumes speak volumes and thereâ€™s no stopping and/or knocking their hustle.
(Hispanic Hollywood: Click Here)Â
NOW! Cutting to the chaseâ€¦ thereâ€™s a new breed of talent leaving blazing trails of untouchable work! One of those talented individuals goes by the name of Ray Santiago!
Racking up quite a line of work in films and television, Mr. Santiago is by far one of the most talented actors Iâ€™ve seen to date, aside from being one of the most down-to-earth, open, authentic individuals Iâ€™ve had the privilege of chatting with.Â
Overall, in a realm thatâ€™s quite a rush, starting titles like GIRLFIGHT (â€™00) co-starring with Michelle Rodriguez, through MEET THE FOCKERS (â€™04) co-starring alongside Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro, and recurring on hit television shows like DEXTER, Mr. Santiago expresses heâ€™s â€œliving a dream.â€ At one point in his life simply â€œjust a kid from the South Bronxâ€ who watched lots of movies and television, garnered his interests and courage, got to work, and â€œhoped one day to make it happen.â€
Pulling no punches, Mr. Santiago states heâ€™s committed to his duties. Setting goals and keeping his eye-on-the-prize, moving along after his stint at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, auditioning for his first serious gig in GIRLFIGHT recalls â€œbeing intimidated by Michelle Rodriguez. I auditioned with her. Sheâ€™s such an intense person, but one of the best and very understanding. We rode the 6 train back to the Bronx and weâ€™d talk about the audition. I was thirteen-years-old then.â€
Fast forward to 2015 and looking back at his accomplishments, he truly IS living a dream. The talented Nuyorican (who now resides in LA) has earned a new role. One thatâ€™s going to place him in a spooky spotlight as it entails one of the most unexpected, yet respected, franchises in Hollywood. In the 80s, Sam Raimiâ€™s B-horror EVIL DEAD opened the floodgates of classic horror. Starring Bruce Campbell (as Ashley â€œAshâ€ Williams), EVIL DEAD follows five friends who travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons. Striking a chord, two sequels followed (DEAD BY DAWN and ARMY OF DARKENESS), a remake in 2013, and nowâ€¦ by popular demandâ€¦ Starz will premiere its very own television series, ASH VS EVIL DEAD Halloween night at 9pm ET/PT.
Premiering at New York Comic Con, the outcome was off-the-wall awesomeness to the tenth degree. As someone who experienced it first-hand, fans of the franchise almost blew Hammersteinâ€™s roof off! Enjoying its new layout, its cast was embraced with good pops. One of them, Ray Santiago of course! â€œHow crazy was that? I was standing on the side taking in the reactions. It was such a great feeling. Unbelievable.â€ He replies when bringing up the audienceâ€™s reaction. â€œHopefully the hardcore fans accept the newbies. It was a collaborative effort to respect the franchise and perhaps add a little something more.â€
Playing the role of PABLO SIMON BOLIVAR, Pablo is Ashâ€™s co-worker and loyal friend. He recognizes that fate has put Ash in the center of a battle of good vs. evil. Pablo feels his destiny is to fight alongside Ash. Originally trained to follow in his uncleâ€™s footsteps to become a â€œBrujo,â€ a Honduran shaman, Pablo has left his legacy behind to pursue the American Dream.
Recalling his start with AVED, he mentions there being a lot of blood. â€œSam Raimi poured a lot of blood all over me.â€ Feeling like providing all he could to the project, it felt like a work of art. â€œI told him Iâ€™m his canvas. Pour all the blood you want, give me some good one-liners, and letâ€™s do it.â€ The rest is history. Knowing the level of work Mr. Santiago opened himself up to, â€œyouâ€™re a good personâ€ were Raimiâ€™s solidifying words.
Covering the inevitable, â€œworking with Bruce was an amazing and educational experience. Bruce is such a ham. Easy, funny, straight-forward, and always full of stories. I learned a lot from him. It was surreal to work with an icon I watched growing up. Iâ€™ve always loved horror. I watched them all: Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13thâ€¦ You name it. My history with Evil Dead is pretty much like anyone elseâ€™s. I loved the entire aspect of its story and fun characters.â€
â€œWhat I enjoy a lot about the show is its diverse leads. Iâ€™m a huge fan of anything that involves a mixture of different people. Itâ€™s beautiful. In Ash we have a black, female lead whoâ€™s a cop, thereâ€™s an Italian female lead, thereâ€™s meâ€¦ Itâ€™s a great feeling.â€ Continuing on about his involvement with the project, â€œPabloâ€™s character grows a lot. I donâ€™t want to give much away, but he grows as a character. Not only for himself, but for Bruce. He completes Bruceâ€™s purpose in the story.â€
And having seen the first two episodes of AVED, believe you me when I express Mr. Santiagoâ€™s quote when saying, â€œPablo has seen some shit!â€
For characters that serve as each otherâ€™s opposites, the chemistry between Bruce and Ray is quite interesting to watch. Taken by surprise when I made it clear to him, â€œThank you so much. Itâ€™s so cool youâ€™re saying that. I was thinking about how Bruce and I came across on screen. No oneâ€™s really mentioned anything about our chemistry. Pablo and Ash are each otherâ€™s opposites, but because of their characteristics, they blend well. They complete each other.â€
And complete each other they do, aside from added pleasures that make AVED horrifyingly charming. Starz may very well have a winner here considering weâ€™re in an era thatâ€™s embracing horror. But the real winner here is Ray Santiago. As someone whose worked his ass off to get where he is, this Latino brother deserves all the kudos, props, respect, love, and fist-bumps the universe can provide. I, for one, am looking forward to more from this talented man. And I have no doubt thereâ€™s a tsunami of projects heading in our direction.
From one native New Yorker to another, Paâ€™lante siempre!