"If there is anyone out there with a dream to chase, just know that there is never a perfect time," the actor tells People CHICA. "You just have to go out there and make it happen and pursue your goals."

By Lena Hansen
March 18, 2020

John Apolinar has loved acting since he was a kid, but didn't realize how much he wanted to do it professionally until he was already pursuing a different career path. "I was living in San Francisco at the time, working a full-time job," he tells People CHICA. "I was sitting in my cubicle not content with not chasing my dream, going to acting classes every night after work. I started breaking into it with a lot of hard work, a lot of hustle and dedication. Things have started to fall into place."

John Apolinar
Courtesy John Apolinar

His latest project is the Disney+ movie Stargirl, based on the best-selling novel by Jerry Spinelli. The titular Stargirl is a new student who shakes up life at her high school; Apolinar plays Wayne, the boyfriend of one of the girls discomfited by Stargirl's unusual behavior. "Wayne is the symbol for conformity," he says. "The story of Stargirl centers around individuality, and the high school is really uptight and most people follow the crowd. It’s really cool because Stargirl comes in and she is this bright ray of light that challenges the status quo and gets people to embrace their individuality.”

Apolinar, whose father is Mexican, grew up with his grandmother, who helped instill in him a love for his heritage. "I was really close to the culture in terms of food, like having tamales on Christmas," he says. "My grandma and my grandfather were Spanish-speakers, and I was always around them."

John Apolinar in Stargirl
Disney

He hopes to keep working on shows and movies like Stargirl that have a positive message, but in the meantime, he's also busy with his clothing line, Upsaint. "I went swimming with turtles in Hawaii one year and I was inspired by how majestic they were," he says. "I wanted to do something to raise awareness for them. We make shirts from recyclable materials, from plastics found in oceans. They have these really bright colors — think of a Hawaiian shirt with Japanese-style flowers. I took the design inspiration from Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Romeo + Juliet."

"If there is anyone out there with a dream to chase, just know that there is never a perfect time," the actor concludes. "The stars are never going to align. You just have to go out there and make it happen and pursue your goals."

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