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The actor Carlos Santos, from Levittown to Hollywood

There are paths that, once they begin to be forged, inevitably cannot be reversed. However, there are others in which you realize that it is possible, although the price of that means something similar to crossing “Niagara on a bicycle.”

Knowing that it was a possibility to run into an unflattering scenario, with will and determination, the Puerto Rican actor Carlos Santos he took the baton of his route when he was living a great moment at a professional level, first being a presenter on LATV and eventually on MTV Tr3s in New York. Having studied “stand up comedy” and improvisation, in addition to being fluent in English and Spanish, made his role as a presenter “relatively easy.”

In full swing, seven years into his career, he gave up that recognition and exposure on the screen, to return to Los Angeles and do what he really loved, being an actor.

“Everyone has those moments in life where they have to decide, either stay comfortable or throw themselves in and sacrifice. I remember that I said, ‘I’d rather be bare and with all the opportunities, than with this money’, and life told me, ‘take it, there you will have it’. Upon my return to this city, I did not work for two years, because the only thing they offered me was a job as a presenter”he told El Nuevo Día during a recent visit he made to the island.

If 2011 was complex, 2012 was even more difficult with the death of his father and the breakup of a sentimental relationship of several years, in addition to economic precariousness. From month to month she lived, looking for how to pay the rent, between auditions, “stews” and tasks as a production assistant, and sometimes having only chocolates and “pancakes” in her cupboard to eat.

In the first week of 2013, in full survival mode, an audition for a commercial ended his odyssey, as from a commercial he ended up being the figure of an entire campaign in English and Spanish, for which he was well paid.

“That saved my life. From that moment on I have not lacked for anything. For me it was spiritual confirmation that I literally had to go through 2012 to come out like the phoenix, seriously.” assured this Toabajeño, who stands out for a thick mustache, who between joking and serious said that everything began to happen after letting it grow. “I was able to concentrate on comedy, impro and stand up, because the best gift I could give myself at that moment was not worrying about finances.”

The 42-year-old actor, after countless auditions, was given the leap into acting as part of the cast in the series “Gentefied” for Netflix, which launched in 2020 and lasted two seasons, in which he played a role as a Mexican, “Chris Morales”. This opened the doors to other opportunities, such as one of his most recent works, being part of the Amazon comedy series, “Primo”, based on the story of the Mexican-American producer and screenwriter Shea Serrano, where he plays the youngest of five uncles, “Ryan”.

“You can see me in the movie Vacation Friends 2 with actor John Cena, which opens on August 25. I originally came out in the first one, in the first ten minutes of the movie, and we recorded that in El Conquistador, the week before the pandemic quarantine began. But, something happened, that curiously people responded quite well to the character and they gave me an ‘upgrade’ for the second one. Now I’m in the whole movie, I’m a ‘co-star’, I’m not a ‘cameo’. I was recording two months in Hawaii and that little seed started with ‘Gentefied’”, he highlighted.

Also in a Mexican role, he was part of the movie “The Valet”, among other projects, as well as giving voice to some animated series. Due to his appearance and the roles he has played, the public tends to think that Carlos Santos is from Mexico, but he lives proud of “his banana stain.” Precisely, he does not lose contact with Puerto Rico, where he comes to visit his friends and perform in “stand-up comedy”, something that he resumed in 2021, with individual shows and being part of the improv group Spanish Aqui Presents in Los Angeles, where he is based.

“From 2019 to here it has been a very cool thing. The perfect combination of things that had to happen in my life and being able to survive I owe it to having had a good emotional, spiritual and physical foundation since I was a child, and having discipline. I learned discipline from daddy and I learned my emotional intelligence from mommy. These are things that accumulate and have led me to believe in myself, to bet on myself and never give up”, pointed out the actor and comedian, who has been building his career for two decades.

always wanted to make people laugh

He always knew he wanted to do comedy, but faced with what often happens to high school students, he didn’t know how to do it. When having to select a profession, he chose to be a student in computer engineering at the Mayagüez University Campus (RUM), even though he knew that mathematics and he did not get along.

In his first year he went on an exchange, which served as confirmation that on the island he was taking a professional path that was not on par with what he was “born to do.” It was from there that he completed studies in drama.

“I ended up at Fresno State University, in California, and that’s where I switched to theater. It’s funny because I entered while still part of the UPRM and I ended that year doing a musical. That was the confirmation of everything I wanted to do. I arrived and started taking classes that have nothing to do with engineering. I started taking acting, singing, massage, communication classes, all electives.” he narrated while clarifying that no one in his family was dedicated to working in the media.

The support of his parents was that push that led him to fulfill that desire. “Since he was little, he was always in the mood to make people laugh and work on comedy,” the young man raised in Levittown does not hesitate to share. At that time, without digital platforms like those that exist today, he entertained himself with his group of friends by making comedy episodes while they were being recorded.

“Us recording it was all good ‘old school’. I think I was 14 years old, the first time I saw a Jim Carrey movie, and it was the first time I said, ‘Come on, that’s what I want to do,’ but obviously, being a kid in Puerto Rico, I had that mentality that it was an almost impossible dream to achieve. It came with the pressure that you had to choose ‘a serious profession,’” he said.

He attributes much of what he has achieved as an adult to his childhood upbringing. Being the son of a father who was a lawyer and pastor, and a mother who is now a retired teacher, he assured that they taught him what he needed to eventually never feel disadvantaged as part of the Latino community in the US market and all that that implies.

“I believe that ignorance is very important in youth to achieve the things one wants. It is an integral part, but I also believe that thanks to the upbringing I had in Puerto Rico, I never felt that I was less, even though I was from the middle class. Now as an old man, I understand many things. I was raised in the best way, a child who never felt less. For me that was one thing that helped me when I went to California, I did not feel that I was at a disadvantage, as happens to many Latinos who grow up in the United States, who from birth feel that discrimination. Thank God, those years in my childhood were key,” said the youngest of three brothers, who came to want to appear on local programs such as “TVO” or “Qué Vacilón” by Raymond Arrieta, to make people laugh.

Mastering Spanish and English perfectly also opened the doors to more opportunities. A change of school and starting to watch American cable TV programs, at the age of eight, made her master her accent. “The muscles of the mouth, if you don’t develop them from a young age, the older you are, the more difficult it is,” she said.

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