EP 82: Jose-Luis Lopez Jr. (autogenrated)
[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it, episode 82.
[00:00:05] All right. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Jose Luis Lopez jr. Are you ready for this Jose Luis?
[00:00:16]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:00:16] Oh, yeah, let’s do it.
[00:00:17] Dane Reis: [00:00:17] Jose Luis is best known for his work on the Tony and Grammy award winning musical in the Heights. He has an extensive history with the show spanning from Broadway, the first national tour, and even a feature film adaptation directed by Jon Chu slated for summer 2021. He has also been seen in Tony nominated on your feet. The story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan appearing in both Broadway and first national touring productions, he has had the opportunity of crossing media platforms and as appeared in various TV film projects, such as , isn’t it romantic? The marvelous mrs. Maizel on Amazon prime and the Peabody award winning and Emmy nominated. David makes man on the own network.
[00:01:03] Following choreographer and director John Rua of Hamilton’s original Broadway cast in the Heights. Hands on a hard body. Jose. Luis has been a part of culture, defining regional productions. As a member of John Rue is the grit. He has performed various seasons at the Muny and start as Bernardo in the Milwaukee repertory theaters.
[00:01:24] groundbreaking re-imagining of West side story. . Jose luis currently lives in new york city and continues to embark on new journeys deeply interested in representing his culture through his works and expanding his horizons in the theatrical and film tv mediums as a storyteller
[00:01:41]jose Luis, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, filling the gaps, who you are, and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry.
[00:01:56]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:01:56] Yeah. Yeah.
Um, well, I’m a performing artists living in New York city. Um, I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but I was really raised in this like beach town city called Hollywood, Florida, which is just North of Miami. And, um, I’ve had the honor of working primarily. Theatrical realms, which for me is not exclusively Broadway. I love touring. And I also love being a part of special regional productions. And that combination has allowed me to travel both the country and the world.
[00:02:23] And bring my love of storytelling. So a wider audience.
[00:02:26]Dane Reis: [00:02:26] Right on. I love that. And let’s move on to this next section here. And Jose Luis, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?
[00:02:39]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:02:39]
You know, it’s funny. Cause I, I, this is something that I always like think about. I have many quotes and I think a lot of people do like we anchor ourselves down on these like seeds of wisdom or things that can like help us get through. Um, but for me, the one that I think always pops up and the one that I’ve used the most on the journey is.
Is is really simple and it’s just keep going.
[00:02:57]Dane Reis: [00:02:57] I love that. And can you maybe expand upon that though? It’s a very simple, seemingly simple quote. Can you expand on that a little bit? How that’s applied in your career in life?
[00:03:07]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:03:07]
Right, right. It’s, it’s super simple. It’s powerful. And in a, in a way it’s like all encompassing because I feel like the truth is, is especially in our profession. And it’s kind of like life itself. It’s not an easy journey. And I feel like the struggles and obstacles for everyone are so varying that just keep going, plays into this.
[00:03:26] It’s like a universal legacy. Then I think that we as artists have the opportunity to like fulfill which at the end of the day is the story of perseverance. And
so. Everything that it takes to sort of earn that perseverance. I feel like is encompassed in just keep going.
[00:03:41]Dane Reis: [00:03:41] Yeah, absolutely agree. And let’s move on to this next section and Jose Luis, look, you are an entertainer. I am an entertainer. And I think that you would agree. This industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries, either if offset of probably ever experienced and
you know, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry.
[00:04:09] Like you’re having now it takes a lot of dedication and hard work. And while, yeah, of course there is an outrageous amount of fun and excitement doing what we do being on stage. There are also our fair share of obstacles, challenges, and failures. We are going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career and how did you come out the other side better because of it.
[00:04:39]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:04:39] Yeah, that’s a really great question, Dane. I think the challenge of maintaining success has ironically been more difficult than the challenge of obtaining it. If that makes sense.
[00:04:49] Dane Reis: [00:04:49] For sure.
[00:04:50]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:04:50]
When I, I initially, when I booked in the Heights, , that show, I felt like it was made for me. all the things that the show required. Everything was inside of my wheelhouse. It was inside of my being my training years, leading up to a, of course were challenging and difficult. So I won’t say that booking the job was easy.
[00:05:06] But not everybody walks into their first open call, audition and books, their dream show. And
like that happened for me. So I think moving forward, maint, maintaining that sense of success and finding other things that, you know, I felt like I believed in and you. I believed in deeply and then beating the odds to obtain those jobs. That was much harder because.
[00:05:29] I think that it’s not always about talent and it’s not always about timing we’re in a people’s business. So it took me a second to
like, like allow that element to come into play and we become fully aware of it and capitalize on it so that I could, I could create, um, like. Create like important relationships that would aid me in continuing to do my work. And at the same time, then bring everything that I had a value to the table.
[00:05:53] Which is much harder than people think. And I think,
uh, a S that’s the side that. However it’s sometimes mentioned like this idea of networking. There really isn’t an educational space that teaches us as artists, how to build those creative relationships in an organic way. because relationships in this business are everything.
[00:06:11]Dane Reis: [00:06:11] Yeah, absolutely. I’m so glad that you brought up relationships and how important they are to succeeding in this industry. And I also. loved your journey. And how you said, look in the Heights was everything about it was in my wheelhouse, booked it on an open call. Very fortunate, very few people get to say that. And that’s absolutely amazing. So in a lot of people’s minds,
you know, you reached the pinnacle, the top of this industry very quickly.
[00:06:38] But what I love is how you didn’t just get there and you realize very quickly that it’s not just about being there. It’s about staying there and to
[00:06:47] stay there is. much more difficult than just getting to that place in the first point, once you get there.
Well how do you stay up on that level? And I love that you’ve really consciously. Seen that, and you’ve taken it upon yourself to develop those relationships. To do what you can and to develop yourself as a person. So you can always be striving to be better, always improving yourself so you can stay.
[00:07:13] On that level. Cause I can imagine being up there where you’re at right now is outrageously fulfilling for yourself, but it also comes with a lot of work.
[00:07:22]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:07:22]
Right. Absolutely. And, and I think for me, um, if I get the opportunity to sort of. Like ever demystifies, CERN, CERN, um, Uh, aspects of the journey for other artists, I take full advantage of it. And that’s why, you know, coming to the realization that my relationships were going to take me further.
[00:07:37] Then I don’t want to say that my talent will because
we’re, we’re in a, we’re in a talent based business as well, but you know, it is just as much as the people’s business. So like, I really encourage people to not only go off for the things that you really believe in because that’s, that’s been a.
[00:07:51] Another big pillar of mine that I’ve
sort of anchored myself down in, but to align yourself with the people that are gonna allow you to not only bring the best version of yourself, but then be able to do work that you’re going to be proud of. And, you know, sometimes those works go really far and really high.
[00:08:07]Dane Reis: [00:08:07] Yeah, absolutely. I love all of that insight. So much gold right there for everyone listening. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your. Spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realize, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer.
[00:08:33] Tell us about that.
[00:08:34]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:08:34] Yeah, my I’m going to be a star
[00:08:37] Dane Reis: [00:08:37] That’s the one.
[00:08:40] Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:08:40]
Um, well, I think for me, like, I, I want to say that there were like spotlight moments, but I think that there were men, like many of them, I I’m, I’m going to sum it up or boil it down into like three, I think the first. Spotlight moment. That I wasn’t even aware was the spotlight moment. I think was my obsession with the movie adaptation of Greece.
um, of course I’m not alone in that, like that, that movie, I think changed a lot of people, but it wasn’t until like, I was retrospectively like looking at my life that I realized, wow, it was a, like, you were so obsessed with that film. I just. And at that point, it was a fantasy. So I hadn’t seen myself in, in that world yet. Ironically, it wasn’t until the film adaptation. It’s funny that there is, it’s a bunch of film adaptations.
Um, but the film adaptation of Chicago was when I was like, Whoa, I could really see myself. And granted that film primarily celebrates women. So it’s like, I’m not even, it’s not even like a film where I’m like seeing myself cut out perfectly or I’m like, yeah, I can be him. I mean, I did end up playing like Billy Flynn and some in like my, my Dolly Dinkle studios, production of Chicago. But that’s like, I guess that’s like a coincidence.
Um, but yeah, like all of, all of those performances by those amazing women in Chicago, um, and especially because our business is deeply rooted in the PR the performances of strong female leads and strong female energy, like I was the first time it was It was that energy. I like really inspired me, but then I, I think where that really solidified. And actually this is where we met. It is at the Boston conservatory where all of a sudden I found myself in this space.
[00:10:08] Where yeah, I’m in there. Yam doing dance. But I hadn’t really solidified like eight
career career in theater yet. I mean, I was a dance major at that time. And of course, you know, you were a musical theater emphasis, and I was a dance emphasis, but I’m sitting there in the corner as a dance emphasis that had been so informed by theater watching you guys like in awe and, and very deeply inspired by.
[00:10:31] Everything that you guys had to do in your program. And then when we finally had the opportunity, I think there was a, the new Joe Jackson musical that they brought to the Boloco,
um, where I had the opportunity to sort of represent myself in that once I got a taste of that, I was like, Oh, okay. Now,
[00:10:45] I know exactly what I want to do. I do want to dance, but I want to dance and be a part of a collective and be an element inside of the Astrical storytelling. And that’s when Broadway became the goal.
[00:10:57]Dane Reis: [00:10:57] Yeah, I love that. And I want to piggyback on that and talk about your number one book. Did moment walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs. If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.
[00:11:18]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:11:18] This is like probably the craziest. Set of circumstances ever.
I mean, at that time I had left the Boston conservatory. I transferred in my, I think it was going into my junior year. I left the vocal to go down to Miami, to a school called new world school for the arts. They call it the Juilliard of the South, but it’s really like new world high school. That’s really known for that though. Neural college is amazing. I ended up going, going there.
Um, and while I was there, I started working at this Latin television network called Univision. So I was taking my Valley. I was taking my, uh, urban stylings. I was taking Latin stylings. This was all sort of prepping me for this audition that I would stumble upon on craigslist.org. Probably forward slash gigs, something like that.
[00:12:04] And it was in the Heights promoting inside of Craigslist for an open call that was happening inside of Miami. Now, leading up to that,
I had, I had stumbled upon a, um, commercial for the Broadway show, but I hadn’t seen the show. I hadn’t heard the music. I just saw this 32nd snippet. Of the show that was coming to Broadway. And I was like, I have to be in that show, like.
Uh, everything about it just spoke to me so deeply. So when I had the opportunity to go, I was like, okay, we’re done. I’m definitely going. I showed up to that audition. They had to book an entire, um, Small and medium sized theater in North Miami beach. I think the bigger story is that all of the creative team were the, were there on a vacation. And so they just decided to like on a vacation, Hey guys, you want to hold an audition?
like 300 dancers, there were inside of a theater, the complete creative team on talking everyone, Thomas Kail, a blanket Buehler, limb unwell. Alex Lacamoire bill Sherman. Everybody was inside the room. And I just remember it being the hardest audition that I ever had to do in my life. We did probably like six or seven.
Um, segments of the show, which is not unlike Andy, because anybody that’s ever auditioned for Hamilton or has it ever gone into the Hamilton bootcamp? You know, that they like throw a lot of material at USO. I have been doing that since like 2009. so, um, at that time I was so hungry for something that was more, that I was ready to rise to that challenge. So Andy saw that and I felt like he just started throwing, throwing, throwing, throwing, throwing everything at me.
[00:13:24] To the point where we got boiled down to,
uh, maybe like the final, like pho, there was like six dancers in the space and I’ll never forget. And I think that this is where this is what like separates maybe like a New York mindset from like another mindset. Not that the, any, any one mindset is better or different than the other. It’s just it’s.
[00:13:41] I don’t know. I think that there’s just like a difference He spoke to us and he was like, Hey guys.
So, you know, we have the option of doing the callbacks today, or we have the opp. The option of doing the callbacks tomorrow. What do you guys want to do? Literally like the other, maybe four people except me and my partner. Um, they were like, Oh no, we can do this. We could just do this, uh, tomorrow.
[00:13:58] And me and my girl raised our hand. We’re like, no, we can do this today.
Like, we can do this today. If you want to have these callbacks today, let’s do it today. So he like gave the room, the option, and I want to say like two dancers walked out of the audition with, in hopes of like maybe, maybe like a callback happening in the next day.
[00:14:13] And then it boiled down. It’s
like, uh, those, uh, um, myself and another performer named Natalie Karun show who I would later meet on the first national tour. Um, and, and two other, two other performers that were in the room. So we, kind of, he boiled out thing down from 304 dancers. Then afterwards we had to go into the room.
[00:14:28] And wrap,
uh, , uh, read sides and sing for the entire creative team. It was the most amazing day ever. Like I remember getting into my front, my boy picked me up. And I remember getting into the car and it was like the deepest exhale ever. And I was just like, Whoa, I like. This is exactly what I got, what I want to be doing. I wouldn’t hear back from the show for maybe like three weeks and put the entire time. And I know any performer that goes to an audition and does a really good job, like, thinks about this, where you’re like, I got that job. I got that job. It’s there. Like, like you own it mentally.
[00:14:59] Which doesn’t always
translate, translate to get in the job, but, you know, I’m willing to put, even if I get the job, I don’t get the job. I put myself through the suffering a little bit of like, like, like, like anchoring down in my conviction of, of the knowing that I’m right for this and I, and the belief of yourself. So I went to three weeks, like really thinking about it in that way. And then finally they.
[00:15:16] All than I just
like lost all my sauce. Like I couldn’t, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. And the next day I was on a flight to New York.
[00:15:23]Dane Reis: [00:15:23] That is an amazing story. I love that, man. That’s so good. Wow, what a good story.
[00:15:32] Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:15:32] So crazy man.
[00:15:33] Dane Reis: [00:15:33] Yeah, and
well, let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And look, it is a crazy weird time. We are a bit this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?
[00:15:51]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:15:51] You see now I’m like on this wave and I’m really enjoying, like speaking with you that I wished that I could actually share with everyone out there, the next project that I’m working on, because I’m so excited about it. I feel like I worked so hard, especially as a dancer in the Broadway game, because you don’t classically,
like, we’re like a triple Freddy’s sort of space where you gotta see, you gotta dance, you got to act. And I was sort of like overcoming certain hurdles as dancers that want to transition and be seen more seriously as singers. I was, I was. crossing those thresholds with new creative teams and, and finally have obtained something. So. You know, So. You know, COVID coming into the situation and being like, Hey, you remember that? Remember that thing you achieve psych. Wha. Has been a, I mean, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of like dealing with it, but I, it, it, it did hit me once it’s, once the show got impacted, it’s not going away forever. So, however, I can’t share what show it is. I mean, maybe I can hint at it was like, uh, it’s been, it was really great show in the last season on Broadway. That’s going on to her, but I can’t say anything more than that. Cause I think I get in trouble. Um, but I just feel like COVID right now for us, any any performing artists, anybody working in this industry, I mean, We’re we’re we’re reasonable logical people here, like. If we can put twos and twos together to try to like, at least like, have a kind of a clear vision as to what the future’s gonna hold, but. I don’t, it’s hard for me to tell because you know, we live in a culture where, you know, entertainment, however, it is vastly utilized when things are great is, is always the first thing to go. When, when sort of survival mode hits. And it’s such a shame, cause I don’t feel like it should be like that. I think art in these times, going to help people cope in so many ways. Music helps people cope. Dancing and getting yourself active, like let, like let’s you cope, seeing a nice film or a nice acting experience. Acting performance can create this role. Keep your emotional self happy. So. But it doesn’t seem like the powers that be really sort of see us in that way. And at the end, that’s a constant struggle that we have to do. So that, that was a really long answer. But the short answer is. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. You know, I do know that there are plans to come back in March as early as March. Um, but really at this point, it really depends on who you ask. There are some people that don’t foresee this really coming back until like, The third quarter of 2021, which, which would be a real bummer. And I don’t want to go work at McDonald’s.
[00:18:10]Dane Reis: [00:18:10] That’s true.
[00:18:15] Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:18:15]
[00:18:17] Dane Reis: [00:18:17] No way, bro. No. Yeah, but you know what? I love that you brought up the fact that Hey, The arts are so important and you’re right when we went into survival mode. Sure. It’s the first thing to go. I get that. I think we can all get down with the idea that look
we need to, we need to survive. Right. And they really hit real hard, real fast, and it really put the brakes on everything. But.
kind of in it, right. It’s been going on things. Certainly aren’t looking like they’re getting really all that better. we’re just in maintenance mode, trying to. Catch up and stay up to date with what’s going on from day to day. So this is going on and on and on. And people are turning to the arts for their relief, for their inspiration. People are bingeing, Netflix, HBO, and everything. You know what I mean? And they’re reading books, be arts.
[00:19:04]Is what is getting people through this? So we are much more essential than a lot of people tend to give us credit for.
[00:19:11] And. That’s just the way it is. So I guess we’ll see what happens over the next coming months because yeah, getting that live theater back up and running, who knows what’s going to happen, but we do know that people need to be entertained and they’re wanting it in. They’re hungry for it.
[00:19:26]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:19:26] Absolutely.
I mean, what I can say is that, is that what is for certain, is that underneath it all, there are people out there that are dying to go back, to see a show and we’ll be there when, when the day when they decide to, to, you know, let us come back.
[00:19:39] Dane Reis: [00:19:39] Absolutely.
Well, it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightening round. We know that hit home for you, right?
[00:19:51] Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:19:51] Yes deeply.
[00:19:52] Dane Reis: [00:19:52] yeah. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?
[00:20:02]All right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?
[00:20:09]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:20:09] discipline.
[00:20:10]Dane Reis: [00:20:10] Yes. Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
[00:20:16]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:20:16] no, your stuff.
[00:20:18]Dane Reis: [00:20:18] Brilliant. Yes. Third question. What is something that is working for you now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.
[00:20:30]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:20:30] Alright. So during COVID,
uh, comfort seeking mental stimulation’s daydreaming and deep zoom conversations or FaceTimes with friends on.
[00:20:42]Dane Reis: [00:20:42] Love it.
[00:20:43] Fourth question. What is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video podcast, maybe a piece of technology that you found is helping your career right now.
[00:20:55]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:20:55] I’m just going to say the all encompassing youtube.com like podcasts,
um, documentaries lessons on I’m surprised there hasn’t been a university of YouTube graded already.
[00:21:05]Dane Reis: [00:21:05]
Right. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry. What would you do or not do, would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?
[00:21:21]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:21:21] I feel like sometimes I think I would have liked to capitalize more on that first wave of successes in.
[00:21:30] In the Heights era, but the truth
is, is that I learned so much from every experience. It all has value. So I actually wouldn’t change a thing.
[00:21:38]Dane Reis: [00:21:38] Love it. And the last question. What is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in the industry that you’d like to leave with everyone?
[00:21:49]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:21:49]
Well, I think that I can tie it all up with everything that we’ve discussed in our combo and say you are enough. No, your stuff.
[00:21:56]And just keep going.
[00:21:58]Dane Reis: [00:21:58] Love it. Brilliant advice for everyone listening out there. And to wrap up this interview, Jose Luis, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?
[00:22:13]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:22:13] Hey, y’all it’s Jose Luis Lopez jr. You can find me at Jose Luis on Instagram for basically all things. Jose Luis, all things Broadway day to day life.
[00:22:22] And my responses to cultural shifts on the daily.
[00:22:26]Dane Reis: [00:22:26] Perfect. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the link to Jose. Luis is Instagram in the description of this episode, you can easily connect with him. Jose, Luis, thank you so much for taking your time, sharing your journey and all of that amazing knowledge today.
[00:22:41]Jose-Luis Lopez Jr.: [00:22:41] Oh, Dan, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this.
I had a, I had a blast.