Season 3 – epiBLOG 7:
For any of you artists currently feeling discouraged as you move forward each day creating and refining your craft, working jobs that you may not enjoy, and wondering if all of the dues you are paying will result in what you’re seeking… you’re in for a HUGE treat today!
I had the pleasure of interviewing actor extraordinaire Jose Rosete! Yes, you read correctly… I actually met Jose when he came in to audition for me back in 2006 for my film Running on Empty Dreams. That was back when we both lived in the oven known as Arizona. He’s since moved to California where many actors find themselves in order to fully live out their dream.
I’ve just watched this talented, dedicated, persistent, and humble guy grow from a great actor to a phenomenal one over the past decade. He’s a breath of fresh air to work with. He’s laser focused on delivering his best performance on a film set, while still being able to integrate a genuine collaborative spirit in his approach to working with everyone. He checks his ego at the door and rolls up his sleeves to create a project that everyone involved can be proud of.
Of course, I was thrilled when he agreed for me to interview him. When I’m sitting at home and a movie or program that he’s in happens to come on, I’m like a ridiculous groupie, pointing at the television and yelling, “That’s Jose!” to my fiancé.
Today’s topic covers my interview of television and film actor Jose Rosete…
Nitara O: I’ve worked with you on my feature film directorial debut Running on Empty Dreams. Can you believe that it’s been almost 10 years since we started shooting that movie… at that time what made you want to play the role of “Corey Harris” — a tough marine turned private investigator who realizes his wife is gay?
Jose R: Well, I knew it was going to challenge me. I knew the story was based on true events, so there was definitely some pressure there, but the kind of pressure I wanted to experience. Traveling to Yuma and San Diego for research really worked and helped me a lot. The more I read the script the more anxious and excited I got. Mentally, I knew I put the work in to show up on set every day and bring the character to life. Definitely a highlight from everything I shot in Arizona the ten years I was out there preparing to make my move out here to LA. And yes, 10 years ago – wow!
Nitara O: Right. It seems like just yesterday. You’ve been acting for YEARS now… what was your very first acting role and what was it that prompted you to do it?
Jose R: The first set I was ever on was Waiting to Exhale as an extra. I must have been 18 or 19 years old.
Nitara O: I remember Waiting to Exhale. I was still in college when it came out.
Jose R: I remember being on set from 6am until 1am that night and they didn’t use me. They finally included me in the last shot for the night. We were dancing at a New Year’s Eve party. First of all, I’m not that great at dancing, especially then. I grew up very shy and bashful with a bad stutter, and a mumbling problem on top of that. I was absolutely terrified.
Nitara O: I do recall you mentioning the stuttering problem and being shy years ago, but even then you would deliver this flawless performance take after take on camera. I didn’t know this challenge went as far back as 18 or 19 for you.
Jose R: Yeah, it did. And I knew I had some interest on what the process would be like for someone who wants to pursue acting, but actually doing it and taking that first baby step was tough for me. I was scared! I hung in there and got through it, but when I saw the lights, equipment, people and Forest Whitaker on set, I knew I was ready to take that second baby step at some point.
Nitara O: That’s amazing to be able to work with Forest Whitaker, Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett… just to be around so many talented people on your first acting experience. But you then put your acting career on hold after that… why?
Jose R: I became a father soon after and took a few years away from pursuing it… but I thought about acting every day. I did some more extra work when I was about 23 or so and that led to me finding a hotline where I could find auditions. Remember this is before e-mails and even people having computers in their home. You had to MAIL your headshots and resumes. You really had to want it back then. I took a couple classes and it helped break the ice in terms of me performing in front of people… THEN having to watch it play back in front of people… that was sooooo hard for me. Again, I hung in there.
Nitara O: Persistence obviously has been a wonderful “friend” to you. And you are and always have been teachable, so I imagine that you got a lot out of your acting classes.
Jose R: When I started my first acting class there were 24 of us. At the end of the eight week course there were three of us left, and the other two had theater and dance experience. To this day I can’t watch myself with people around. I do it occasionally, but I skip it every chance I get. Remember I didn’t even want to do this interview over the phone. (laughs)
Nitara O: (laughing) No, you didn’t. I remember.
Jose R: I love my relentlessness and work ethic and it all started from the start — the first time I ever had lines and acted in a film I actually had two gigs on the same day. I shot a film during the day and had a one liner, then I rushed over to the other set for an evening shoot and had a couple lines. From that point there was pretty much no looking back for me. I knew right then that I would never look back on my life and wonder, “What if…?”
Nitara O: Your face seems to be everywhere now — I saw your daily updates on social media of when you were in Cambodia shooting a film. What was that like?
Jose R: Yeah, social media isn’t my favorite thing, but it’s a must if you want to plug your projects, and most importantly for networking. I’m decent at it. Cambodia was amazing! Such a cool experience. Amazing people all the way around and the opportunity to be in this film is really going to help further my career. I have a good feeling about this one.
Nitara O: Was Cambodia your first time traveling out of the country?
Jose R: I’ve been out of the country before. I shot a film in London. I was out there for about eight days and we shot in France for pretty much 24 hours straight. Another amazing experience. The film is called Angels, Devils and Men, and I think the site is still up at www.angelsdevilsandmen.com. Lindsay Shonteff was a pretty big director from overseas. He gave me an amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, he passed away a few days after we wrapped production. I also shot a film in Panama and Mexico as well.
Nitara O: You’ve definitely been around the world – that’s awesome. I lived in Panama for about six months to a year before I turned five, so I don’t remember much. But I did travel to London a couple of times to compete in Track & Field in high school. I’m grateful for those experiences and it sounds like you’re grateful for yours.
Jose R: For sure.
Nitara O: Now, you also seem to be a regular in many Lifetime movies — I’ve seen you in about three of them within the past few months. I get excited like a little girl on Christmas morning when I immediately recognize you in those movies. What has the transition been like from being an independent filmmaker/actor in Arizona to being a recognizable face on television and in film?
Jose R: It’s interesting. You think you know what it’s going to be like and how you’re going to feel, but there’s no way until you actually go through it. I did quite a few direct to video films when I lived in Arizona and people recognized me in the streets. It’s happened a few times recently in the gym and people find me on social media to give me props, so that’s always appreciated. I’m definitely no huge star that the paparazzi chase around, and I do seriously hope that NEVER happens. I’m very private and that isn’t going to change. I didn’t become an actor for any of that. I’ve been in LA over seven years now and I’d say about 85% of the people I’ve crossed paths with want to be famous, the rest are actors.
Nitara O: This is exactly why when I thought of words to describe you, the words “talented, dedicated, and humble” automatically came to mind. You are truly one of the few that just wants to act for the love of what you do.
Jose R: That’s who I am. That’s who I always was. That’s who I’ll always be.
Nitara O: Do you still feel like you have to prove yourself even with a strong acting resume like yours? If so, why? And how is it that you feel you “prove yourself” on a film set?
Jose R: I absolutely do. I will always continue to challenge myself and treat every gig I get as if it were my last. To actually be able to do what I’ve always wanted is something I will never take for granted. There are so many actors in this town and we’re all going after the same thing…
Nitara O: Which is what…?
Jose R: An opportunity to be on a set with talented people and contribute to bringing entertainment to someone out there who wants a break from their hustle… and to enjoy something to watch. That means a lot to me. I don’t need to be the lead or the star in the film. I just want to be involved. Proving to myself that I’ll always continue learning something new every time out is important to me. If I’m not getting better, something is wrong, so I need to work hard and never feel like anything is guaranteed.
Nitara O: What advice would you give someone who wakes up one day and decides that they want to pursue acting, not just as a hobby, but as a living?
Jose R: Tough question. I would ask them: “Are you willing to work for free for a while?” Being on a movie set is so different than you think until you’re actually on a set. Try being a background actor and get a little taste. Take some classes. Try theater as well. Can acting be a hobby? I guess so, but if you want to pursue it full time it needs to be 100%.
Nitara O: You wouldn’t recommend anyone to pursue it without a full commitment to the craft?
Jose R: This business is already hard enough if you’re not going to put everything you have into it. There’s an old saying, you can’t be half a gangster. You can’t be half of anything. Definitely can’t be half an actor. A friend of mine told me this years ago. He’s a rapper and he makes a living off of recording his music and selling it. He tells me there’s a difference between being a rapper and being someone who can rap. Knowing how to rap is great, but the person rapping for a living has a completely different approach overall. It takes learning and knowing the music business, promoting, practicing and so much more. Exact same thing with acting. Huge difference between being an actor and someone who just knows how to act.
Nitara O: That’s pretty profound. You’ve given me something to think about as a writer.
Jose R: Good – I’m glad. That might not make sense the way I tried to break it down, but it made total sense to me and it’s true. This might sound strange, but it’s been my approach.
Nitara O: It makes sense to me. So, from your personal experience your advice to a fully committed actor would be to… fill in the blank here…
Jose R: Ironically, the best advice I could give is to NOT take advice from other actors. Get out there head first and start to figure out what you need to do, figure it out for yourself. The last thing is you cannot put a time table on it. If you do that right off the bat, why even bother? It’s a life decision. I knew when I was 23 that I would spend the rest of my life doing everything in my power to act as much as I possibly could until the day I die. That might sound dramatic, but it’s 100% the truth. That’s the decision I made for me. Tons of sacrifice and hard work. It could seriously take 10-15 years, maybe more. Would you still want to be an actor if you knew that going in? Could it happen much sooner, of course. Comes down to how bad you want it and your true intentions for wanting to become an actor. You have to understand that you’re intentionally entering a world that revolves around rejection.
Nitara O: Jesus, I’m learning so much from you. You’re giving me a whole different perspective on my writing career. I just know that insight is reaching so many artists in the film industry and in other industries as well.
Jose R: I have to speak from my heart.
Nitara O: And that you definitely do. What was your transition from Phoenix to Los Angeles like? Describe it.
Jose R: If you’re going to make it happen, then you do need to be here 100% of the time. That’s my opinion. The first five auditions I went to when I first moved here to LA… the people casting knew me from films they had seen. That definitely helped my confidence in the transition from Arizona to LA. I mentioned before it’s been a little over seven years now. It’s been great. I haven’t had to get a job… (laughs). It’s a beast of a place and every single day there’s someone making their way to Hollywood and at the same time someone is on their way back to where they came from. There’s already a 100 actors who look like you and they’ve already been here training and booking work. I worked for about 10 years in Arizona. As much as I wanted to move to LA much sooner, I had a little boy, so I did as much as I possibly could for those 10 years. As my son got older… I waited until I felt like he was old enough where he could understand what I needed to do.
Nitara O: Can you remind me of your son’s name again?
Jose R: Raymond. He’s 19 and lives in Mesa, Arizona.
Nitara O: How do you balance your personal life with the demands of the film industry?
Jose R: I get out to Arizona as often as possible, but it’s still not the same as it was when I lived there. For the first few years I talked to Raymond every single night on the phone and told myself every morning when I woke up that if you’re going to be away then you better get your ass up and do everything you possibly can to make today worth it. Scheduling can definitely be brutal. I don’t even go by days anymore. I go by dates. I’ll be hanging out one day and realize, “Oh, it’s Saturday, it’s the weekend.” I knew that though. I love it, you have to. It’s so unpredictable. I book two gigs in one day on a consistent basis.
Nitara O: What is one thing that you would do differently or would change if you had an opportunity for a “do-over?” Do you have any regrets in your life right now that you are willing to share — personal or career wise?
Jose R: Biggest regret I have in my life was when I was in 10th grade. I got on the Varsity football team. I wasn’t ready and it kind of took the sails out of enjoying playing football. I wasn’t good enough. I should’ve played JV where I could’ve had a better chance of playing the position I wanted to play and getting on the field. That might sound silly, but because of that experience I haven’t had one regret since. I think about the decisions I make and once I decide on something, I own it. I take my acting so serious because this is the only life that I’m ever going to have, so why not spend it doing anything other than exactly what I want to do. I told myself back then, “No regrets from here on out,” and I’ve stuck to that.
Nitara O: I’m almost speechless. I learned so much from what you had to share. I’m excited to know just how much of an impact you will have on others. Before we part ways, is there anything else that you would like to share?
Jose R: Um… I’d just like to throw my website out there: www.joserosete.net. I have my brand spanking new demo reel on the front page. Other than that, I want to thank you, Nitara, for reaching out. I think what you’re doing with the artists you help promote is a great thing, and I hope you make another film one of these days, even if I’m not in it. (laughs) Thank you again and have yourself a fantastic day.
Nitara O: Thank you, Jose. For the kind words towards me and for sharing your experience with all of us. Your words and insight are definitely appreciated… and they needed to be said.
Today’s LESSON is to be fully invested in your craft no matter what the cost.
FUN ASSIGNMENT: Take the time to do something new in your life that will move you forward as an artist. It might be to take that acting class down at your local theater house. To take a painting class. To start taking voice lessons. Or to set goals that stretch you beyond the clichéd comfort zone. It might be to simply read a book on cooking or how to write intriguing characters on paper. Just choose to do some new activity that helps move your career forward. Jose does his acting full time because he gave 100% of his time to his acting no matter what the circumstances in his life were at the time. Do you feel you can commit yourself 100% into the art that you love?