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Marc Fajardo, Filipino Actor in Hollywood, Part 2 Interview

As promised, here’s the second part of my email interview with actor Marc Fajardo.

(For Part 1 of the interview, click here.)

 
Charica Roche: When did you start listening to your intuition about which career path to go? Did you ever dream of being an actor in Hollywood?

I started listening to my intuition when I was on set for Iron Man doing background work. I was doing a lot of observing and questioning. I was saying to myself that this “acting” thing is so cool. One of the actors on set that played one of the bad guys, his name is Fahim, he was just so expressive, enthusiastic, so alive, and for the lack of a better word, happy. He was telling me his life story about how he was beaten up and more or less tortured when he served in the Afghan military, and how his life is amazing here in the United States. He was writing up a book about his journey and his struggles he had to beat. And now he’s a professionally working actor.  To come to think of it, I just realized he planted a seed in me. I knew then he was motivating us and sharing his joy to take action on your dreams. And I admired so much of his mentality. I wanted that for myself. And I think the actor’s journey is more than just booking gigs in acting, I think it’s taking on different entrepreneurial adventures that is more or less relative to acting and the industry.

Another big motivation was getting into the SAG union. I didn’t know anything about it prior to becoming eligible and learned all the perks during the SAG orientation. So I was thinking, what the heck, let’s try this acting thing. If I can’t make it as an actor, I can always pursue dancing.

My mentality has changed since then. I’m pursuing acting till the day I die. I realized the dancers’ life expires when you hit 40. But acting still goes on till you’re old. I never dreamed of being an actor in Hollywood when I was young. I dreamed of taking adventures like the movie “The Goonies,” traveling around the world, living in a tree house somewhere in Canada, anything that’s not related to Los Angeles. Ironically, the tides have changed and I am where I initially never wanted to be. Hahaha. I’m happy I made this decision because ever since I started learning the craft of acting, I became obsessed. And I cannot stop.

How do you prepare for each audition?

It really depends on the role. I always put myself on tape to analyze what pops on screen.
But I first try to figure out what the role is, and who I am acting opposite from, if it’s the lead or supporting character.

In a week, how many auditions you go to?
It used to be at least once a week, but now it’s been every other week. Sometimes twice a week. Sometimes none. Auditions really come in waves.

Did you experience any challenges with regards to auditions? Any experiences with typecasting or stereotyping Asian roles or impressions?
The only challenges I get is when I don’t get any auditions, hahaha.  I’ve been getting a diverse amount of casting types, it’s either a gang thug, customer service role, quirky friend role, or valet guy. I think I’m typecast for the quirky, awkward valet or customer service type. And I’m cool with that for now in my career because auditions/roles come very rarely. The focus is to audition and book, I cannot be picky at this point. I’m trying to gather some fans from Casting Directors and build relationships with Producers. Plus being typecast is a good thing, at least right now as an aspiring actor. The key word is ‘cast’ in typecast.

In every audition, how do you manage to convince casting directors you’re the right person for the role?
I show up. That’s 70% of the job. And not just showing up physically, but mentally, spiritually, metaphysically, what have you. Basically being present and connecting. And it’s really not trying to ‘convince’ cd’s that I’m right for the part, but just doing my job and sharing my interpretation of the role. I mean, I was invited to the party and I was picked to audition for a specific role over probably 1,500 submissions. So that says something.

Are you a member of the SAG-AFTRA union there in the US? What are the requirements to be a member? How important is it to be a member of an actors’ union?
Yes I am a member of SAG-AFTRA. To get into the union you must book a role that requires you to speak at least one line of dialogue. Or you can take the background artists route and try to get at least 3 full days of work (8 hrs) on a SAG signatory film/tv show.  You obtain your vouchers from there and present it to the SAG office. It’s important to be in the actors union but I think it’s just as important to gain experience and footage for your reel before you get into the union. There are a lot more opportunities for non-union jobs where you can still get paid a good amount of money but you’re rights as a performer aren’t protected such as overtime or residuals.

I have a fun fact for you. In a few interviews I read online, you said that your mother was from the Camotes Island in Cebu. Well, my father, his parents, and siblings all come from Camotes Island. Have you ever visited the Philippines at all? If yes, when and where did you go? If not, do you have plans of visiting?

Hahahaa that’s so cool. Yes, I visited back in 2007. That was the last time I was there. I went around Manila, like in Batangas, Olongapo, Pampanga, Subic Bay. It was for an excursion with the F.A.C.E.S. program (Filipinos Americans in Coalition of Environmental Solidarity).  I traveled with 7 other members and visited families and NGOs to create dialogue and gain awareness of the environmental issues in the Philippines. It was life changing.

Do you do acting work full time, or are you currently doing part time work to help supplement the income?

I definitely have a day job. I teach kids video production for an after school program called Youth Development Program (YDP). Every 3 weeks my co-instructor and I travel to different elementary schools and teach kids the art of video production. We produce at least 2-3 short films or PSA’s that’s focused on health and fitness. I also am co-owner of a multimedia company called Jive Duck Studios where we service to actors/artists in developing marketing materials for their brand.

Since you are currently based in Los Angeles, do you have time to go out with your friends or do any activities outside of work?
I try to make time, but I try to spend more time on rehearsing or business related stuff for acting or Jive Duck Studios.

How do you keep it fun, exciting, at the same time keep yourself confident whether in front of casting directors or just by yourself?
I practice my craft almost everyday, at least every week. I try to stay relevant with the business and I remind myself not to take it too seriously. What I do is not who I am. The only things that are important to me are my family and friends, acting comes second.

What are your favorite places there in California?

Specifically in Los Angeles to eat? I could name a ton. Take a Bao in Studio City. Niko-Niko sushi in Burbank. Wurstkuche in L.A. Cafe Habana in Malibu. 
 
To work out and train, it’s Mat’s Gym in K-Town, Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in North Hollywood,
Odoru Dance Studio in Downtown L.A., and Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles.

But in Cali, I love San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara. All the beaches. I’ve got mad Bay area love because many of my college friends are from there, and we created long lasting memories.

Favorite actors and other personalities you admire? Which qualities you admire in them?

Peter Sellers for his versatility. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton for their genius in directing, acting, composing, choreographing. Stanley Tucci for his versatility and charm. Michael Shannon’s beautiful intensity. Meryl Streep, Juliet Binoche, Daniel Day-Lewis, James Dean.

Are you a member of a diversity committee for actors in the industry or something similar like that? Have you met fellow actors of Filipino ancestry there?
I am not a member of a diversity committee for actors in the industry, but I definitely have met fellow Filipino actors. Well, you know what, to come to think of it, I think I am part of a group of Filipino Community actors, if a Facebook group page counts for it. I don’t meet them on a regular basis but they occasionally have mixers and gatherings. It’s the Filipino Hollywood Mafia facebook group page. And it’s a community of Filipino actors, writers, directors, basically anyone from the industry that gather together and collaborate or just mingle. It’s a way to form a home in Hollywood for our Filipino community.  There’s a handful of us Filipino actors and actresses. I usually see them in commercial castings because they’re always so specific and frequent for Filipino roles.

Do you believe it’s also the job and responsibility of actors from diverse backgrounds to help educate people, to help them realize that actors of diverse backgrounds can also play the roles usually sort of reserved for or given priority to Caucasian actors?
Oh yes, I think it’s a huge responsibility to give back, empower and inspire to those that think aren’t worthy enough to work in the industry. I learned that it’s not just actors that have a political agenda to diversify the commercial screen, I’ve noticed casting directors, especially Caucasian female casting directors want to diversify roles that normally go to Caucasian actors.  There has become a wonderful surge of diversification on television and film that it’s no longer a black and white polarized society. The spectrum has unfolded to other ethnic actors. 

Marc’s Personal Online Profiles

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