Interview: Actor Samuel Gomez from "The Bodega" on TheFlama.com
Posted: Aug 26 2014
Hispanic.com is really excited to have the chance to speak with Samuel Gomez who plays "Alex" in the series "The Bodega" which has seen its debut on "The Flama". The next episode is about to hit TheFlama.com, and we're excited to learn more about happenings behind the scenes at The Bodega!
The bodega is always a great neighborhood spot! What's it like to film in and have a story revolve around a bodega?
Samuel Gomez: The bodega is a great spot! I think first and foremost everyone involved had to be loose and open minded. From the ownership down to the cast and crew, it was a total team effort, full of laughs. To have an opportunity to film in a setting that is such a staple of Hispanic culture was really a cool honor more than anything else. It's always a unique opportunity for us Latino actors to authentically represent our culture and people on film for a broad/national audience.
What attracted you to participating in The Bodega series?
Samuel Gomez: Well as an up and coming actor, you're always open to most of the roles that come your way. You're really just starving to sink your teeth into a project and get better at your craft. But I would be lying if I said this project didn't spark a special kind of excitement. Initially, for me, I was attracted by how down to earth everyone in the studio was; especially the producer Halavah and Director Todd. Auditions can be a very scary place a lot of times. Creating this sort've ambiguous and mysterious aura to the whole process. But this was different. It was fun, interactive and open. Really a breath of fresh air if you ask me. Then when I got script, I was all in! It was hilarious!
The Bodega is filmed in a mix of Spanish and English, how is this different for you as an actor than filming in English only?
Samuel Gomez: Well I don't know if it there was much of a difference except I was able to draw from and rely on my upbringing and culture at home a lot more. I've been speaking Spanglish all my life so it really came naturally and felt really good. Only regret is not having been able to do more of it. Maybe in season 2? (Laughs)
Tell us about what the reactions of the actual Washington Heights residents who saw you filming in their neighborhood. What's their reaction to The Bodega series?
Samuel Gomez: That had to be funnest part of the whole filming process. The neighborhood we shot in, much like most of Washington Heights/Inwood area, was such a great mix of first arrival Latinos along with first, second and third generation Latinos. The store was actually open the entire time we filmed, so customers would come in, ask questions, ask about The Flama and where they could watch the show. It really stirred up a fair amount of intrigue and excitement. It's not everyday studio productions like these come in, settle and shoot for an extend period of time in our neighborhoods. It's usually more compiled of local and indie films, so yeah, people were excited and curious. Although by the 3rd day, the regulars wanted their store back (laughs). They felt as if we were sabotaging their daily routine. Especially the OGs. And if you know anything about Bodegas, we definitely were.(laughs)
How has the reception been so far on The Bodega series?
Samuel Gomez: Reception has been awesome! People are really drawn to the authenticity of the setting. And they think it's funny! Thank God! Phew! (Laughs). I've heard a lot of pride expressed by those in the area to seeing their culture depicted in such a real, yet new age form. Locals are really excited for our culture, specifically the Dominican culture, to get some shine in the right way (no drugs, guns and killing). Latino culture in American film/shows have been dominated by our fellow Hispanics on the west coast, so it's nice to see the lights be shined on Hispanic culture here on the east side. Very thankful to The Flama for embracing this project.
Thoughts on if I'll be seeing a "Bodega Bar" or "Bodega Comedy Club" spring up in our neighborhoods soon? (We certainly hope so!)
Samuel Gomez: You know what?! If it hasn't already, then we gotta make it happen! You got everything you need! Food, drinks, music, interesting crowd! Truly the ideal spot for either! (Laughs). My boy did tell me there is a Bodega themed bar somewhere in town; going to have to look into that. I'm not surprised though, New York City has it all!