Finding All The Right Favorite Stories With Actor Julio Macias
Julio Macias is an actor based in Los Angeles. Macias was born in Mexico City and moved to the US when he was 8 years old. His father worked in the dubbing business, so he grew up feeling industry adjacent watching voice actors and directors give new life to American shows and movies in Spanish. Having an early understanding of the multitude of jobs associated to the entertainment industry, helped him confidently decide to work in it. He focused on acting roles because that’s where he thought he could best serve storytelling, but if that didn’t pan out, he knew there were many other opportunities that he could pursue within this business. Macias love movies, and he was going to be a part of making them. Julio Macias joins Forbes to chat about his entertainment career in acting and finding the right roles.
Goldie Chan: Hello Julio, thank you for joining us. What has your career path been?
Julio Macias: Audition and cross my fingers. Do the work, then let it go, and get used to that because there’s so much we can’t control in this business. That’s why I like to focus on what’s right in front of me and work one script at a time, be that an audition or a booked project. I will say that starting a production company right out of film school and having to close it just as I got my first big acting gig, helped me appreciate every position on set. Working almost all of them in one capacity or another out of necessity, put into perspective how interconnected and essential each is to the collective of storytelling on film. My journey is singular to me, but I don’t think unique in any particular way, it’s been a fluctuating ratio of nurturing my creativity, “flight hours”, and granted opportunities.
Chan: What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Macias: Each project from student shorts to Studio productions has been special in its own way. I think my career as a whole thus far has been my favorite project, and it’s nowhere near done. I like the idea of a body of work, and I want mine to be as diverse as possible when it comes to genres. Character work is definitely another big goal, I want to blend seamlessly into each project. From heart-pounding blockbusters to thought-provoking indies to undeniable scripted series, both comedy, and drama. I love this industry and this medium, flawed as it may be, and I think by being an active participant in it I can help be part of the necessary change to make it the inclusive and creative place we all wish it to be. But the struggle fuels me honestly, each step forward, small as it may be, reminds me that I’m still here while many others have hung it up. Call it the immigrant mentality if you will, but taking punches and persevering makes me proud of the work I’ve done, and gets me excited for what’s to come. I love simply walking through a studio backlot almost as much as I love acting.
Chan: How has your personal background shaped how you choose your current projects?
Macias: When I was a kid visiting the states, my favorite thing to do was take the backlot tour at Universal Studios. I remember riding that tram back to back, daydreaming about what it would be like to work in the movies. Even before I knew I wanted to be an actor, I knew I wanted to work at a studio, and I feel every decision my team and I make, is to make that dream a reality. I love big popcorn movies, ridiculous comedies, and heartwarming films, that’s what I grew up on and that’s mainly what I consume. Being a Mexican-born American also absolutely influences my decisions. Fortunately, I never felt lesser than growing up, if anything being Mexican felt like a superpower, an alter ego I could always tap into to impress people and change the way they perceive us. My birth nation is rich in culture and magical folklore. If people commented on my appearance, I’d tell them it’s because I come from Aztec warriors. If they thought all we ate were tacos, I’d invite them over and share with them a meal they wouldn’t stop talking about for days. I’ve always counteracted ignorance with positive exposure. While that’s not my mission statement when it comes to my career, I’m happy to continue that work if the opportunity arises. And I’m thankful we’re getting more and more of those opportunities every year.
Chan: What TV or film projects are you currently working on?
Macias: Aside from chasing that ever-elusive “next big thing” by auditioning, I’m keeping my producing brain busy. I love the crazy puzzle that producing is, finding and bringing together the right people for the right project is one of the coolest things to me. I really enjoy world-building with fellow creators, especially when they are passionate about the story they’re telling, so there are a few projects I’m working on that hopefully come to fruition. Even if they don’t right now, I absolutely see myself producing more and more as my career develops, so I practice that skill as much as possible. That being said, I’m currently on ABC’s The Rookie, and I’m about to get scanned to work on my first video game. Motion capture is not only part of the future, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. To me, it’s a great way for actors to really become Anything they want to be, so I’m very pumped to put that mo-cap suit on.
Chan: What is your favorite part of working on film?
Macias: The collaborative effort to make every scene the best it can be, take after take. On stage, you rehearse for weeks on end as a group, but when the curtain goes up, it’s just you up there, which is absolutely thrilling in its own way. But on film, if you have the patience for it, you can see everyone micro-adjust their individual art form to get their desired outcome, which if collectively done right, will transport the audience to familiar places they’ve never seen before.
Chan: What is the most important key to telling a great story?
Macias: I think that depending on who you ask, a writer, a director, and an executive will all give you different answers, and in their own lane, they’ll all be right to some extent. For me, the answer is to be invested and genuine in your work. Everyone can spot bullshit a mile away, even if you’re entertained by it, if someone on the team phoned it in, it’s going to come across on screen, and the audience will be left wanting. Of course, a good script is where it all starts, but then it’s the actor’s job to find resonance in those words so they can then give grounded performances built on those internalized truths. Basically, if you’re not buying it, neither is everyone else. And I think that applies to every department in a production.
Chan: Who has been your favorite character to portray?
Macias: Oscar “Spooky” Diaz has definitely been the most fulfilling character I’ve played so far. I was able to create something that people trusted me with, and that was very freeing. Once I saw the writers and showrunners like what I was doing, I was able to just be in it and play, without worrying about all the external stuff. It also gave me a glimpse into what I was able to accomplish if I invested myself fully in a role. From discovering how he walked and talked to exploring and underrating his trauma and history, it was an absolute honor to play him, and it’s a role I’ll proudly carry with me for the rest of my career.
Chan: What changes would you like to see in your industry?
Macias: I’d like it to be a safer, more inclusive space for everyone involved. I think for too long we’ve romanticized the idea of Old Hollywood, myself included, that for some reason everyone needs to be beaten down first, and “pay their dues” as if abusive culture is something we should all be thankful for as a unifying rite of passage. That’s not to say that positions shouldn’t be earned on merit, hardship is part of growth, but we do need to break the current century-old cycle and allow a new wave, from All walks of life, to inject much-needed diversity in storytelling. We still have a long way to go, but I personally do see that change happening, and it’s happening faster than one would think, otherwise, there wouldn’t be such resistance against it. We absolutely have a long way to go, but I also think we should take the time to celebrate how far we’ve come, and recognize we can only make it better from here.
Chan: Any last branding or career advice for actors?
Macias: This industry can be an absolute blast, but it’s also tough as hell. Be kind to yourself and your process, and make sure your focus is on your art, not on the popularity, or lack thereof. The moment you begin to worry more about how people will perceive your work, instead of enjoying the work, is probably a good time to pause and rethink why you’re doing this in the first place.
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