Rising Star Alex Castillo: “I have been an avid global traveler and have seen acts of kindness everywhere I have been; I would love it if everyone would take five minutes out of their life and make those five minutes about someone else”

I have been an avid global traveler for decades and have seen acts of kindness everywhere I have been. I would love it if everyone would take five minutes out of their life and make those five minutes about someone else. Simple acts of kindness would do a lot of good for a lot of people. […]

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I have been an avid global traveler for decades and have seen acts of kindness everywhere I have been. I would love it if everyone would take five minutes out of their life and make those five minutes about someone else. Simple acts of kindness would do a lot of good for a lot of people.

As a part of the Meet The Rising Stars editorial series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alex Castillo. Castillo is an American actor and producer originally from Chicago based in Los Angeles. Castillo has appeared in dozens of films, television shows and stage productions, including Chinonye Chukwu’s “Clemency”, the 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning death row drama. Castillo is the founder of Castle2000 Films, a production company with the mission of creating groundbreaking socially conscious projects that entertain, inspire and promote social and cultural diversity. Finally, Castillo serves as a board member and executive advisor to organizations working in the social impact space.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in an immigrant household in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago’s north side. I feel I grew up way too fast which in retrospect was a wonderful gift. My parents had to work multiple jobs just to keep a roof over our heads. That meant I had to keep an eye on my younger siblings while figuring out what I was going to do with my life. It was a wonderful gift as I learned how to take initiative, handle responsibility and persuasively negotiate with others from an early age.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

While I always knew I wanted to pursue an artistic career, growing up in an immigrant household where one is expected to pursue a “real” profession, I couldn’t justify doing so. I went off to college and business school and eventually entered the consumer products industry working for some of the biggest companies and managing some of the biggest brands in the world. I was really enjoying that very lucrative career, but something was missing. On a trip with a buddy to Southeast Asia I finally had the courage to admit to myself that I needed to make a change. I left that career the following year and moved to Los Angeles.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I first started my career, a well-known working actor told me, “Welcome to Hollywood Alex, the first 15 years are the hardest”. Shortly after that meeting, I found myself in Park City, Utah attending a screening of “Ellie Parker”, that year’s Sundance Film Festival’s Opening Night film. I was sitting in the middle seat of the last row of the upper section — the farthest possible seat from the stage. After the Q&A I told myself, “I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but someday I will be back in this theater, with a significant role in a film, in competition.” Exactly 15 Sundance Film Festivals later, I was back with “Clemency” in the same theater, with a significant role in a film, in competition. I play the character of Victor Jimenez, a death row inmate facing execution. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of such a powerful and thought-provoking film.

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?

While shooting a guest role on the pilot episode of a new series for a major broadcast network, I got very tongue-tied for my close-up and couldn’t for the life of me say my last line which was “but the binky burger bag stands”. I had said that line perfectly in dozens of takes for the master shot and everyone else’s close-ups, but when it came to my close-up it just wasn’t happening. It was blooper central and the whole cast and crew would start laughing. After several more tries, we had to move on, so I missed having a close-up. The lesson here is forget the camera’s there and run your lines at least 500 times!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m currently promoting “Clemency” during its film festival run ahead of this December’s theatrical release. The film will continue to open theatrically around the world throughout 2020. Up next for me, a role in Kate Johnston’s “Turn Left”, an indie drama set in 1979 where I will play the managing partner of a prestigious law firm. On the producing front, I am currently in development on two feature films under my Castle2000 Films banner.

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?

I believe it’s critically important to foster diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry because it’s the right thing to do. I’m confident that it will lead to richer, more meaningful work.

Other industries are making great inroads and I see no reason why ours can’t do the same. As artists we have the opportunity, but more importantly the responsibility, to depict the world we truly live in.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Here are my top 5:

1. When you audition, don’t book the job book the room, you’ll be called in for many roles you’re not right for, but if you leave a strong impression, they will keep calling you back and the right role will find you.

2. Don’t judge the character or your ability to do the character. If you’re truly an actor, you will be able to transform yourself into that character.

3. Turn down the audition when it doesn’t feel right. Don’t waste their time and your time if you are just not feeling it.

4. Do the work and trust the homework. Prepare furiously for the audition and eventually the role, then forget you did all that work and be in the moment — all will fall into place.

5. Embrace what you look like but look the best you possibly can. Nothing beats self confidence.

Also, work out, drink lots of water and get decent sleep.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I often advise colleagues not to make their career their entire life. The entertainment business can be all-consuming and stressful with a lot of rejection and disappointment. I encourage colleagues to define their life purpose and align everything to that purpose. For example, my purpose is to help others achieve their goals through counsel and thought partnership. I align all my professional and personal pursuits with that purpose. It centers me and keeps me from burning out.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

I have been an avid global traveler for decades and have seen acts of kindness everywhere I have been. I would love it if everyone would take five minutes out of their life and make those five minutes about someone else. Simple acts of kindness would do a lot of good for a lot of people.

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?

There are too many people that have helped me along the way to be able to mention just one. I have had many mentors in my life and for that I am eternally grateful. I will say that I strongly believe in the power of mentoring and can only hope that I am as effective a mentor as my mentors were with me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is from Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho — “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. This quote perfectly captures how I approach life, I put objectives out in the universe and work smartly to achieve them.

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. 🙂

I would love to grab a meal with Barack Obama in the same way he did with Anthony Bourdain in the Vietnam episode of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” — cheap local cuisine, cold beer, sitting on plastic stools. I would love to share my thoughts with him about social impact and social change. If Barack Obama is not available, Oprah Winfrey would be next on the list.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @castilloalex

Instagram: @castilloalex2000

LinkedIn: /gacastillo2000

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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