Frankie J. Alvarez of LOOKING on Playing a Latino Character Without an Accent

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Where are you from?

I am from Miami, Florida. I’m first-generation American; both of my parents are from Cuba. I’ve called NYC home for the past 8 years.

When the trailer was first released by HBO there was some push back from people who thought the show lacked diversity. What was your reaction to that initial criticism?

My reaction to that criticism, honestly, was utter shock. This is an incredibly diverse cast and our show deals with various issues of race and class in an engaging yet natural way. People were making a rash judgement based on 1.5 mins of footage, yet we filmed 4 hours of solid storytelling. I think they’ll see the folly of their critical ways as they invest in the show throughout the season.

It’s totally refreshing to see varied portrayals of Latinos on the show (versus the Hollywood stereotypes.) How much input did you have on the development of your character?

We are blessed to be surrounded by such willing collaborators on the show; while Michael and Andrew are in charge, they are incredible listeners and are open to ideas.

In fact, all 3 friends were based on people that Michael knew. Early on, Agustín was Venezuelan, had an accent, and was trying to figure out his green card situation.

After they cast me in the part, Michael and I had a chat about using some of my innate personal characteristics to our advantage in the show. We have seen so many stories about Latinos trying to learn how to be American, or learning to survive despite the cultural divide, but there are a lot of us who classify ourselves as bicultural and have thrived in America by embracing both sides of the coin, thanks to the position of success afforded us by the sacrifices made by our immigrant parents.

I identify as both Cuban and American. I speak English and Spanish. So, it made sense for us to have Agustín represent a new generation of Latino.

Plus, you’ll come to see that both Richie and Agustín’s various feelings toward race and class will come to a head as these two are a big part of Patrick’s life in season one, and intersect in exciting ways.

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