While growing up in San Diego, I never felt out of place. My parents were bi-lingual, Latino/American citizens. Being fluent in Spanish and English is perfect for southern Californians where Spanish is almost as spoken as English. We had access to delicious food from authentic cuisine restaurants without fear of encountering the language barrier, an immediate sense of family even though we were Puerto Rican and not Mexican, and my family had been going to the same barbershop for 18 years because of the Latinas who ran the shop. My parents were the bridge to my heritage. Which made things harder when I had to move out on my own.
My parents did not teach me Spanish after I turned six years old. Without that knowledge, I’ve never felt more cut off to my Latin roots. Though the values that were instilled in me have never left, I still felt something missing.
It took this beautiful story and this amazing cast to make me realize that.
Though there is a lot to interpret, regarding themes in this show, the biggest one for me personally is identity. As someone who is proud of his Latin heritage and values, I also feel excluded when finding a connection with others. I have been mistaken for Caucasian on multiple accounts due to my skin tone, and yet my parents were both born in Puerto Rico, as well as their parents. I understand Spanish more than I can speak, and I haven’t even stepped foot on Puerto Rico – making my role Florizel so interesting to work on. I see a reflection of myself.
By working with a cast of made of both English and Spanish speakers, a sense of belonging and family rings so clear to me. I love being an actor, I love being American, I love being Latino, and I love the comfort I get from exploring what this show holds in its pages. I feel at home though it is so far away from me.
Anyone of any background can come see this show and take something away from it. Its messages are so powerful. Finding out what and where home is to me is my message.