Exclusive: This Fool's Bernardo Badillo on What Latinos Need to Succeed in Hollywood
Success comes to those who are willing to chase it. But the challenging road to riches, whether figurative or literal, can oftentimes be the most rewarding.
Being your most authentic self and truly believing that you have what it takes is the cornerstone of what it means to pursue a creative career like acting—something This Fool and Emily the Criminal actor Bernardo Badillo knows a thing or two about.
Badillo, a classically trained actor with ties to both UCLA and the prestigious NYC Actors Studio Drama School, tells People Chica, "What I would say to other aspiring actors is to never give up even when you feel like things are impossible. This job is challenging but it will never become a reality if you don't stick with it."
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, Badillo shares what it was like working on the set of Fred Armisen's This Fool (which premieres on August 12 on Hulu), why working on Aubrey Plaza's Emily the Criminal has been a career highlight (also premieres on August 12 in theaters nationwide) and how acting speaks to his soul.
You're a trained actor, having attended both UCLA and the prestigious Actors Studio Drama School in New York City. As many know, acting isn't a path for the faint of heart. What was it about this profession that really spoke to your soul?
I think for me pursuing this profession was a path that was necessary. I never wanted to be anything other than an artist. To your point, pursuing this career is definitely challenging, but it can also be very rewarding.
There's nothing like the excitement of getting a script and breathing life into a character. I look at it like this: playing a character is like doing a puzzle. You pull out all the pieces from the script and from within yourself then unite them together until you have a beautifully rendered portrait!
When you take a step back and look at the finished product there is a sense of accomplishment that feeds your soul. It makes it worthwhile!
In the gritty Emily the Criminal, you are tasked with bringing the character Javier to life alongside Aubrey Plaza's Emily. What was that experience like for you? Where did you pull inspiration to inform the character?
Being in Emily the Criminal was one of the best experiences of my career, not only because of the incredible people I got to work with but the working environment created on set. This was a set open to collaboration, open to suggestions and ideas.
Often you get to set—you hit your marks and say your dialogue then move on to the next thing. But on this set, we figured out [what] was working and what wasn't and made changes in the moment based on input from [director John Patton Ford], Aubrey and/or myself. Each of our opinions mattered!
As far as inspiration for this character I used my experiences working in hospitality as a jumping-off point. I play the character of Javier who works at a catering company and works constantly to provide for his family. I don't have a family of my own yet but could relate to his hustle and drive. I knew I needed to let the character flow through me instead of trying to add any unnecessary things to him. As they say, "less is more!"
You've appeared in other gritty projects like Snowfall, Queen of the South, Animal Kingdom and Dexter, to name a few. But, in Hulu's more light-hearted This Fool, you switch it up with your role as Cousin Johnny. As an actor, what was it like making that switch?
I love switching it up! It keeps things interesting. It's also a rare occurrence for me when I get to exercise my comedy chops, which is ironic because in school that's all I would ever get cast in. Filming This Fool was an opportunity to dip my toes back in that sandbox and I loved every minute of it.
Fred Armisen is at the helm of This Fool. What was it like as an actor to work on a show that he was behind?
Well, I've always been a fan of Fred Armisen. He's an extraordinarily talented artist. I watched the work he did on the TV series Los Espookys as an executive producer and actor and was blown away, to say the least. I couldn't wait to get on set to work with the incredible team he helped assemble. The experience was a dream come true and I can't wait for people to see the show!
Although it hasn't been perfect, Hollywood has made strides in terms of Latino representation. What does it feel like to see more faces on-screen that are representative of your culture?
I'm overjoyed to see things changing in terms of Latino representation. When I first started working professionally the scope and number of roles for Latinos were extremely limited. And if you wanted to work you had to play within those very narrow margins.
In the last 5 years, I've seen changes not only in front of but also behind the camera as well. I've had the pleasure to work with amazing artists who are moving the needle in terms of what Latinos are capable of in the entertainment industry. My hope is that this inclusivity is not just a trend, but a movement that's here to stay for the next generation.
What is something that you'd tell other Latinos, be they children or seasoned adults, about pursuing acting as a career?
What I would say to other aspiring actors is to never give up even when you feel like things are impossible. This job is challenging but it will never become a reality if you don't stick with it. Believe in yourself and always continue to work on your craft because the more you know the easier it is for people to say yes to you!