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  • Writer's pictureAugust Sorenson

The Academy Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Photo Credit: Jessica Pimentel – Zimbio Arturo Castro – Entertainment Weekly Dan Domingues – IMDb Alessandro de Gennaro – VoyageLA

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, The Academy highlights the careers of Jessica Pimentel, known for her work on Orange is the New Black and the off-Broadway play, Jasper; Dan Domingues, acclaimed New York and regional theatre actor across; Alessandro de Gennaro, a 2019 grad whose booked commercials and series, and Arturo Castro, who is, as it was put in a recent Pages article: Una Estrella en Ascenso. Below, catch interviews with Alessandro and Dan, and articles on Jessica and Arturo's recent goings on. Jessica Pimentel The multi-talented actress Jessica Pimentel shot into the spotlight with her performance in Orange is the New Black, the Netflix drama that captivated audiences for 7 seasons. The Brooklyn-born actress can be seen appearing in Law & Order from 2005-2015, and in Person of Interest, the Jim Caviezel-led drama series from the 2010s. In addition to her acting work, Pimentel sings in a heavy metal band. Recently, Pimentel starred in the Off-Broadway production, and the world premiere of, Jasper, a drama following a troubled couple attempting to keep their marriage intact. Arturo Castro Castro’s range as an actor is equaled by the countless credits he has accumulated in the past decade. For the sake of brevity, we will attempt to narrow down his extensive career to a few honorable mentions. While working in the New York theatre scene, Castro got his break on Comedy Central’s Broad City. Staying with this network, Castro started Alternatino, a comedy sketch series that propelled him into the limelight. The actor can be spotted in Netflix’s Narcos, The Informer with Rosamund Pike, Mr. Corman across Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and The Terminal List starring Chris Pratt. Upcoming, catch Castro in The Menu, with fellow actors Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy. A Conversation with Dan Domingues What did things look like for you post-graduation? You know, I left Company without an agent or manager, nobody to work with, nobody to be my champion. I was on my own and just started looking in the want ads. I just started submitting my headshot and doing that beginning actor thing, and I eventually booked a children's tour—which is a gauntlet that every young actor should go through because it really teaches you how to work for some of the hardest audiences you will ever work for! After I left The Academy, several months later, I lost my father. And so that sort of clouded my post-Academy experience a bit and sort of delayed me because I was spending time with family. I was taking care of things. I didn't think about acting for a good three or four-month stretch. I didn't do any acting. One of the first jobs I got was this children's tour with a theatre company in New Jersey called George Street Playhouse, which is a Lort house, and they have a children's tour aspect and an education department. So I toured with them for 10 months throughout schools in New Jersey. That was a learning experience. I was making almost no money, but it was good to throw myself back into something that difficult. And the man who ran that education program at George Street after I finished said to me, you really should consider going to graduate school grad school. He said, "I think it'll give you a leg up. It'll help you. I think you're ready for it." I applied for two years to a bunch of schools and didn't get into any of them. And then, I got waitlisted for a school on my third year of auditions, and just took it because I didn't want to go through all of that again. That was the Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard. I count getting out of graduate school as really the beginning of my acting career, which for me happened very late. I was almost 30 when I got out of graduate school. One of the best parts of that program was getting to live in Moscow for three months. We got to study at the Moscow Art Theatre. That was the best part of the program, living in another country, and seeing how Russian actors are trained.

Did not having an agent or anyone lifting you up end up lighting a fire under you? I was on the search for an agent. In the beginning, I did anything to get experience. You know, stuff that doesn't pay, going to equity showcases, things like that. I don't recommend doing that for too long because I feel like you have to put a price on your talent, you have to show people your value.

Did you find that different in Moscow? They have a very different tradition there... When I was there, there wasn't much of a film industry...Russia wasn't known as a great film center. You had great Russian filmmakers like Tarkovsky...But I don't think a lot of actors made their living in movies there, you know? They make their living working in the theater. Their training is strenuous and rigid, which is years and years of study, and you come out, and you don’t audition, they would just get offers to be in projects, and you could be in a play for like eight, nine months it…it's a little different from the structure that we have.

Do you have a preferred medium? I prefer theater. I prefer theater because that's what I studied, and that's where I feel most comfortable. But also, that's where I've gotten most of my work. I haven't had a lot of success in the TV and film realm. Yeah, so most of the work I've done has been in theater, so that's where I feel most comfortable. I often don't feel comfortable on a movie set. What about creating your own content? You know that is something that everyone told us when I was at The Academy. We would have people come in and give us these motivational talks, you know, tell us about the business and the thing that everyone said across the board is: don't wait for anybody to give you a job, create your own work. I have not, for the most part, heeded that advice. Because I tried to write a few things, but I don't have the discipline to be a writer. I just don’t. I'm really more of an interpretive artist, like someone gives me the material, and I interpret it so. I've been lucky in that I have gotten to work pretty steadily. And I do foster relationships with directors and writers that I like and want to stay in touch with. Now, it's so easy to create content, that there's no excuse not to. My advice would be if you have any other skill in this in this arena besides acting—like if you have an interest in directing, producing, or writing—do that, foster that. Is there anything that you’re particularly drawn to? Anything you avoid? I mean, I'm more interested in doing new work as far as plays are concerned...I'm interested in working on plays by new playwrights. This is blasphemy, but I'm really not interested in doing a lot of Shakespeare. Classics, as far as Shakespeare and Moliere, I'm not really that interested in, because I feel like we've done those to death. And yes, there's something to be said about interpretation and reinterpretation, and I've seen a lot of great productions that are set in modern times, where they try something different. Those are always interesting, but I'm more interested in doing new work. But as far as what type of work I don’t want to do…I don't really put parameters on it. I try to be open. I try to be open to whatever comes my way. Obviously, if there's a script or a play that I find offensive, I don’t take it. In a way, you know, the difficult part is that sometimes you need the money. So you have to do these projects, even though they may not speak to you.

How do you feel about representation on stage and on screen? I think it's important to talk about and acknowledge that we're still at a place where a lot of actors of color are still not getting the work they deserve, or that their stories aren't being represented. I also think reinterpreting older plays and including people of color in those plays can be really exciting. I'm a Hispanic actor, and I think I am tuned into, I guess, plays and movies that speak to people who are Latin or Hispanic.

What keeps you motivated and inspired? That’s the evaluation every actor does each day... And I think it's my colleagues. I think it's getting to work with the people I work with and being in the room with them, because that's the safest space. It's where I feel most comfortable. I wouldn't want to give up that feeling at all, the feeling of a rehearsal room, or the feeling of being on a set with friends that I couldn't give up like I couldn't change my lifestyle and sit in front of a computer all day. Sometimes that's what I ended up doing, though... I would miss that tangible feeling of creating something with other people. I feel like what every actor has is the potential...what's great about this business is that tomorrow you could get cast on a TV series. You have to do a lot of work to get there, right? Like it's not just luck. It's setting yourself up for those opportunities to come your way. It's the unpredictability that kills it, but also what's exciting about it.

What’s next for you? I'm working. I'm going to be starting a play next Tuesday. And, in the midst of performing that play, I'm going to start rehearsal another play. For three weeks, I'm going to be rehearsing one show and performing another. Many people tell me I'm crazy and that I will be exhausted, but I'm excited about the opportunity! Then I'm starting a rehearsal for a show off-Broadway called Sherlock Carroll. Which is sort of a Christmas-themed show where Sherlock Holmes meets Scrooge. We did it last year off-Broadway. It was a big success, and they’re bringing it back. They hope it becomes a holiday tradition. I love working on Christmas shows because it's like Christmas every day in the rehearsal room.

A Conversation with Alessandro de Gennaro You graduated just a few years ago, and I wonder what you’ve been up to since graduation. So when I graduated, I started working with mosaic, which is a management company in LA. I was getting really nice auditions, really good opportunities, and I had an opportunity with Narcos…well, there’s a funny story about Narcos. I went in for season three, and then I was all the way up there, I was about to get the part, and then I lost the role to Bad Bunny. The first thing after graduation was a commercial for Taco Bell, and that was a lot of fun.

I remember it. I kept working with mosaic. I did a couple of short films, and stuff like that. Nothing crazy. And then the pandemic hit…the first few months were really slow. And then I actually got a manager here in Mexico, and we started getting some good opportunities. You're always, like, on that edge. You just gotta keep going...just keep trusting that things align the way they're meant to align. And the opportunity is always there for you to take. You've just got to keep on positioning yourself in the places where the opportunities are in front of you.

You’ve worked with some Academy grads quite a bit. Yeah, for sure. I was just on the second season of Here Comes Your Man. That was great, and the show is getting great reviews, people are liking it. The DVD just came out, so if you’re in Europe, you might be able to find an actual DVD. I will have to take a look at that. What is it that fuels you? It’s like an automatic thing. Every day I wake up, and it’s automatic. It's not something I think about anymore. I don't put myself down. I don't doubt myself. If I’m not doing it, someone else will be. If I’m not working hard, someone else who looks just like me will be. So why can’t it be me? We're all born with persistence. Everybody in the world is born with persistence, we all are. Now it depends which individual wants to use it .But we all have the same amount of persistence. If you push yourself to the limit, I guarantee you, you’re going to do it. Because that's persistence. So I always try to stay in a place where I know that persistence is under my control. And it's up to me to put in the work. But if you want something and are constantly going for it and putting your energy into it, it's just a matter of time until you make those things happen for yourself.

How do you put that into practice? Have a clear vision. When you have a clear vision...your life moves around that vision. My manager in Mexico knows that I want to be in the US, and before I signed with him, I told him that I'm not going to do telenovelas, I'm going to do this. My main focus is going to LA, to Hollywood.

What’s next for you, and where can people find you? My plan right now is to get my Visa going, to get sponsored there. I really want to be in LA, there are so many auditions and opportunities happening there that I am missing out on. You never know what life brings you, you just have to be open to it… go with the flow! I’m only on Instagram. I find other things take up too much of my time.


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