Never surrender. I came across a quote years ago written by Tupac. It goes, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss in life is what dies inside while still alive. Never Surrender!” Whether you’re fighting to have an acting career or if you want to become a doctor, put the time in and pick yourself up and keep moving every single time you get knocked down.
I had the pleasure of interviewing RENE MORAN. He is an El Salvador-born actor who stars in David Ayer’s (Suicide Squad, FURY, End of Watch) LatinX indie-thriller, THE TAX COLLECTOR (available on Amazon Prime) alongside Shia LeBeouf, Bobby Soto, Cinthya Carmona, George Lopez, and Lana Parrilla.
David (Bobby Soto) and Creeper (Shia LaBeouf), are “tax collectors” for the crime lord Wizard, collecting his cut from the profits of local gangs’ illicit dealings. But when Wizard’s old rival returns to Los Angeles from Mexico, the business is upended, and David finds himself desperate to protect what matters more to him than anything else: his family.
When Rene was still a baby, his family fled to the U.S. from El Salvador, escaping civil war and distress, ultimately settling in Orlando, Florida where he spent most of his life. Growing up with two immigrant parents in a low-income home, Rene felt limited with his resources and aimed to be a manager at a fast food restaurant someday. It wasn’t until he had a heart to heart with his mother in his early 20s that he felt the need to pack up his bags, move to Los Angeles and open a new chapter in his life.
Having close relatives living in Los Angeles, helped his move as he had a place to stay. What was supposed to be a 6-month stay, turned into living on the west coast for over a decade. Rene took on a job at a gym, leading him to meet several people, one of which referred him to a front desk position for a business owner in Sherman Oaks. Unbeknownst to him that this job would open the doors to his career in the entertainment industry.
Rene began absorbing the diction and mannerisms of the professionals that surrounded him. His outgoing personality caught the eye of one talent manager who approached him about considering being a commercial actor, one thing led to another and he shot campaigns for Ford Motors, Nike, Axe and Miller Lite.
His first big-screen role came in 2008 where he played a Mexican hitman in the film STILLETTO, directed by Nick Vallelonga (GREEN BOOK, The Godfather). Knowing he wanted to pursue acting as a career, Rene took acting classes at Stella Adler, studying the craft and the Meisner Technique, as well as improv classes at UCB Comedy. He landed roles Showtime’s “Shameless,” ABC Family’s “Switch at Birth,” ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and Amazon Prime’s “Bosch.”
Rene is fluent in Spanish and English. He loves being outdoors and exploring remote destinations, both local and far. When he’s not working, he enjoys working out, hiking, reading, spending time with his family and close friends and taking walks with his two rescue dogs, Nala and Milo.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know’ you a bit. Can you briefly tell us about where you grew up and what led you to move to Los Angeles?
Igrew up in Orlando, Florida and what led me to move to Los Angeles was a long conversation with my mother. I was going through some things in Florida and I needed a change of scenery and she convinced me to move out here.
Can you share a story with us about what led you to pursue a career as an actor?
I was working a front desk job rolling calls and doing administrative tasks for businesses within the entertainment industry. Before taking the front desk job, I was planning on moving back home to Orlando. I decided last minute to interview for the open position before I bought a ticket to fly back home. The job sounded like a cool opportunity and luckily they offered me the position. While working there, I made friends with casting directors, agents, managers and the entertainment attorneys that worked in this office. I learned a lot from them.
As time progressed, a casting office began asking me to come in and audition for roles. Then an agent asked me to give her some headshots so she could send me out on commercial auditions. At first, I turned all these opportunities down just because I didn’t think of myself as worthy of being able to become a working actor. I thought that was only meant for special people and I didn’t consider myself one of those special people. One day, I just said, forget that, I can do this. I began to audition and that’s pretty much how I got introduced to the business.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Becoming a working actor is actually the most interesting part, considering my background. I was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador. If it wasn’t for my parents deciding to seek political asylum and leave the civil war going on at the time, I’d never be here discussing this topic. I’m not really sure where I’d be today if it wasn’t for them and I’m certain that it would not involve the entertainment industry.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Early on, it was literally my first movie credit, I auditioned for a film entitled Stiletto. I had to improvise a scene for casting and director Nick Vallelonga. Ultimately, they hired me. They gave me instructions to go to set and I somehow misunderstood the explanation as to who I needed to ask for when I got there. I was under the impression that I was supposed to check in with someone named Taft Hartley. I found the first person with a headset and I asked them where I could find Mr. Taft Hartley. She took one look at me and said, “I’ll be right back.” I waited around and when she returned, she said she had good news and bad news and asked me which news I’d want to hear first and I said the bad news. She said, “there is no Taft Hartley.” Immediately, I felt nervous, I felt like I was screwing up on my first day of work. Then she told me the good news, she said, “Taft Hartley is actually paperwork you need to fill out. Congratulations, you’re in the union.” My response was, “what’s the union?” I knew I had a lot to learn. From this experience, I learned to always come prepared. Pay attention to detail and do your homework so you know exactly what you are walking into.
Tell us about your role in TAX COLLECTOR. What can the audience expect from the film?
I’m in a supporting role and I play a character named Victor. He’s got some decisions to make and is tested on what he is willing to do to provide for his family. The audience can expect to see some really great storytelling, great performances by some really amazing actors and just an overall great production.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Well, I believe we live in a very diverse world. We as people are from so many different places and have different backgrounds. We all have so many unique experiences as a result of this. I think this is why its important to tell stories from all different cultures. First, we get a chance to sit back and peek inside worlds that we’ve never lived in. This can give us empathy for what people from other cultures may be experiencing in their daily lives.
It’s important to see diversity on tv in order to give the youth a chance to see for themselves what representation looks like on mainstream media. Growing up, people like Uncle Phil and Carl Winslow became examples of fathers that I looked up to. Watching John Leguizamo in films was also inspiring for me.
Also, sparking new ideas is something we can all learn from one another. Diversity on television and film can lead to conversations that can lead to solutions for problems that we all deal with. All these reasons can shift our culture into a more collective state where we all work together to create a better life for all of our brothers and sisters.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Be patient. The acting business for me has felt like a marathon, not a sprint. I have been on so many auditions and most of them I have not booked but the few I have, make it all worth it.
- Enjoy the journey. It’s been so easy for me to get frustrated during slow times that I forget to enjoy the journey I’m on. I envision myself further down the road, towards the end of my career and wonder if I will ask myself “did I enjoy my journey?” and how I will I answer this question.
- Surround yourself with people that encourage you to be your best. I wouldn’t be here without the help, support and encouragement that I receive from all my family and friends. It takes a village to reach new heights, I don’t think it’s possible to do it alone and especially not possible by having the wrong type of support in your corner.
- Take care of your physical and mental health. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially with all the rejection that comes in this business. For me, it’s been very important to find sources that feed my mental and physical body with positivity.
- Never surrender. I came across a quote years ago written by Tupac. It goes, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss in life is what dies inside while still alive. Never Surrender!” Whether you’re fighting to have an acting career or if you want to become a doctor, put the time in and pick yourself up and keep moving every single time you get knocked down.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would tell them to keep going. Take care of your mental health, meditate, work your body, feed it good foods, seek good friends and surround yourself with people that love you. Also, find other things to put energy into that you are passionate about besides just acting. All other passions lead to lessons and experiences and in the end all that can also contribute to your work as an actor.
You are a person of influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To end racism. Imagine a world without it. We’d be united and through that we’d evolve into a better civilization. In my opinion, no one is born racist. I believe racism is something that is wired into us through various forms. Through bad experiences and teachings from people that carry that hate in their hearts. I want it to end and I’ll help that cause in any way I can. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have a long list of names to be honest. It’s taken a lot of support and help throughout the years to get where I am at today. It all started with my parents, they are the core of all this help I’ve received but to take it back even further, it’s been God. I believe in a higher power and I believe it’s this power that has placed all the right people in my life. I also have to give a lot of credit to my mentor Rick Barlowe. He’s been like a second father to me and has shown me unlimited support over the years. My list can go on and on, there are just too many people to name.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never Surrender” — Tupac. This quote is my life. Life will knock you down but it’s up to you to get back up. Never surrender to what tries to take you down.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Will Smith. He’s someone I’ve looked up to my entire life. I love his energy and the positivity he spreads to people all over the world, it’s something I aspire to do. I would love to learn from him and spread more of that positive alongside him.
How can our readers follow you online?
I’m on all social media. Hit me at @iamrenemoran on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.