Entertainment

Jason Genao Of ‘On My Block’ Talks Growing Up On His Block And His Secret To Making Bomb Empanadas

Netflix’s coming-of-age comedy “On My Block” has been steadily gaining an audience by the passionate word-of-mouth of fans, and a string of 🔥 GIFS on social media. 

Jason Genao, one of the show’s stars, won over audiences with his character Ruby Martinez’s witty one-liners, his depth of self-awareness, and his hilarious dance moves with co-star Jessica Marie Garcia over the first two seasons of the show. 

Now, if you haven’t seen “On My Block,” we will have a few spoilers ahead for seasons 1 and 2, now that season 3 is officially out.

Before season 3 started streaming, mitú spoke with Genao in an exclusive phone interview to see how he got the inspiration for some of the show’s most pivotal scenes amd how the fictional Los Angeles neighborhood of Freeridge compares to his hometown. Oh, and he shared his secret to making some delicious empanadas.

Genao’s character Ruby left us shook after the ending of season 1. 

A tweet Genao posted on his personal Twitter account before the airing of season 2 said, “Remember that time I had you guys thinking I was dead for a whole year. Ahh commitment.” That hit some fans in the feels—but Genao said he knew he had to keep the script’s enthusiasm going.

Oh, we see you Genao, he’s got a little of a 😈 mischievous side—sounds like someone we know on OMB?

“I think in the back of my head, I knew if I ruined it, season 2 wouldn’t be good. All the suspense was held in the majority of my character whether he was alive or not, [it was a] pivotal story arch. If that would have been ruined, there would not have been as much enthusiasm,” Genao said over the phone with mitú.

“I wanted to keep this suspense in the show as great as everyone else did. I lived off of reading everyone’s tweets—seeing them all suffer for the year,” Genao added.

When it comes to diving into his character of Ruby, he goes all in, especially when it came to handling Ruby’s PTSD following the events of the first season.

“I did my research online with what happens with people who have PTSD. My cousin was shot twice. For me that kind of hit—PTSD comes in the form of however you are as a person,” Genao said of how he was able to understand the effects of PTSD.

“I had to take Ruby as a 14-year-old innocent person, who lives where he lives but never thought it would affect him,” Genao said about the performance. 

Tapping into his own personal experiences was also a vital part of capturing the trauma Ruby went through after being shot at his crush’s Quinceañera party.

Credit: Netflix

“[I] take traumatic experiences and bring them to the forefront—bring real life emotions to the performance. As an actor that is a gift—you hold on to them because of the power they can bring to the scene. I take those things and hold on to them because I need them for my job,” Genao said. 

As layered as Ruby is when it comes to dealing with life’s trauma, he’s also a 14-year-old kid navigating the same exciting ‘firsts’ of teen life—first crush, first kiss, and the first time being a teen entrepreneur. 

Ruby is a character that has it together—he can do his taxes, he has binders for plans, he has choreographed Quince dances. 

Genao assures he was *not* that put-together as a teen growing up in his Dominican family.  

“I was a mess as a teen. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, I relied on her. I definitely was not super put-together as a teenager,” Genao said with a laugh.  

Since Genao seems to embody the characteristics of Ruby down to a button-down T (with polo shorts and a backpack), it might come as a surprise to fans that he actually first read for the role of Cesar Diaz.

Credit: Netflix

“I was sent Cesar and then an hour later [they] sent me the slides for Ruby. I was more intrigued in Ruby because he had so much to say. They said you have to perfect it, so I went into this study mode and I got it down,” he said about landing the role.

Hmmm…maybe Genao and Ruby share some characteristics after all. INSERT NERD FACE EMOJI 

When it comes to Genao’s hometown of Jersey City, there are some similarities to his character’s fictional home of Freeridge. 

“Me and my brothers, we all went to the same high school, there were a lot of gangs. I remember my brother bringing people with cuts and scars and blood and I was like ‘Jesus.’ As time progressed, it got better, I guess they gentrified my neighborhood,” Genao reminisced. 

Much like Freeridge, he said Jersey City also had its teens having fun despite the violence around them. 

“It always had a festival in the summer, and had a carnival. It was really freeing, my mom was never like we HAD to be careful. I was 11-years-old walking to friends’ houses,” he continued.

Growing up in Jersey City also helped Genao appreciate a sense of diversity not seen in every bedroom community across the country.

Credit: Netflix

“Jersey City was super free and so diverse. [When I see] issues like racism or hatred of a certain community [in other places], I was baffled, that wasn’t an issue in my community. It wasn’t until I left that I realized how harsh the rest of America was,” Genao had to say about seeing a lack of diversity in some communities.  

OMB’s success with both audiences and critics can help to change the narrative of diversity in places that might not experience it as much in daily life. 

The show is proof that now diversity is having a movement—not just a moment. 

“It garners more hope—not false hope—a secure hope. We are not just a diverse show, but a successful diverse show,” Genao proudly says. 

Off-camera, Genao likes to cook in his spare time and he does not come to play when it comes to making some B-O-M-B empanadas.

“Sazón Goya and mojo—don’t play with me. Me with my Sazón,” Genao chuckled as he recounted a story where he was browsing the aisles of a market in LA, trying desperately to find the secret ingredient to his empanadas.

Of course, los mercados came through when he needed it and he found his Goya packet at a Latino market. So what’s ahead when it comes to his projects on camera?

“There are lots of things I have my eyes on, you never know. There are things coming,” he cryptically said.

Looks like Genao’s fans will be patiently anticipating what’s to come on OMB season 4 and beyond. 

READ: Netflix Is Paying The ’13 Reasons Why Cast’ More Than The ‘On My Block’ Cast Of Color, Here’s Why That’s Caca

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

New Netflix Docuseries Explores The Summer The Night Stalker Terrorized Los Angeles

Entertainment

New Netflix Docuseries Explores The Summer The Night Stalker Terrorized Los Angeles

Bettmann / Getty Images

Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. The Night Stalker, spent the summer of 1985 terrorizing Los Angeles. Ramirez murdered 13 people during his reign of terror in Southern California. Netflix’s new docuseries is exploring the crime by interviewing law enforcement and family of the victims.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial” killer is now streaming on Netflix.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer” is the latest Netflix docuseries diving into the true crimes that have shaped American society. Richard Ramirez is one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and single-handedly terrorized Los Angeles during the summer of 1985.

Ramirez fundamentally changed Los Angeles and the people who live there. The serial killer was an opportunistic killer. He would break into homes using unlocked doors and opened windows. Once inside, he would rape, murder, rob, and assault the people inside the home.

The documentary series explores just how Ramirez was able to keep law enforcement at bay for so long. The killer did not have a standard modus operandi. His victims ran the gamut of gender, age, and race. There was no indicator as to who could be next. He also rarely used the same weapon when killing his victims. Some people were stabbed to death while others were strangled and others still were bludgeoned.

While not the first telling of Ramirez’s story, it is the most terrifying account to date.

“Victims ranged in age from 6 to 82,” director Tiller Russell told PEOPLE. “Men, women, and children. The murder weapons were wildly different. There were guns, knives, hammers, and tire irons. There was this sort of feeling that whoever you were, that anybody could be a victim and anybody could be next.”

Family members of the various victims speak in the documentary series about learning of the horror committed to them. People remember grandparents and neighbors killed by Ramirez. All the while, police followed every lead to make sure they left no stone unturned.

“Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer” is now streaming on Netflix.

READ: Here’s How An East LA Neighborhood Brought Down One Of America’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Exes Wilmer Valderrama and Demi Lovato Are Playing Soulmates in Netflix’s Animated Movie Charming and Talk About Awkward

Entertainment

Exes Wilmer Valderrama and Demi Lovato Are Playing Soulmates in Netflix’s Animated Movie Charming and Talk About Awkward

Photo via Getty Images

Wilmer Valderrama and Demi Lovato don’t let a little thing like emotional baggage get in the way of their careers. The famous former couple proved that exes can actually be friends when they worked together on the new Netflix animated movie, “Charming”, that premiered on Friday.

Not only did Lovato and Valderrama co-star in the children’s movie together, but they played lovers. And not just lovers, but soulmates.

It looks like Lovato and Valderrama truly decided to remain friendly and supportive of each other after their breakup in 2016. Which in itself is a rarity!

In “Charming”, Valderrama voices a spoiled Prince who is “cursed” to have every woman fall in love-at-first sight with him until his 21st birthday.

When the project was announced in 2015, Valderrama was extremely excited about the opportunity to represent greater diversity in a children’s movie. “We’ve all been waiting so long to see a Latin princess represented in an animated fairy tale,” he told Deadline. “I’m grateful to the enlightened producer John Williams for anointing me as the first Latin prince.”

Lovato plays a Lenore, a savvy street urchin who is also cursed to never find love. Together, the unlikely duo are tasked with going on a quest to break Charming’s curse so he can save the kingdom.

When discussing their previous relationship in the past, Lovato and Valderrama have been nothing but gracious.

In fact, Demi Lovato recently told Harper’s Bazaar that she’s happy for Valderrama and his new fiancée, Amanda Pacheco. “I’m really happy for him and I wish him nothing but the best, but we’re not in each other’s lives, haven’t spoken in a long time,” she admitted.

She continued: “But I think I needed that because I needed to learn to be okay on my own. When you get into a relationship with somebody at that young of an age and then you spend six years with somebody, you don’t really get to learn about yourself.”

When Lovato has talked about the reasons behind their split before, she’s always maintained that it had “nothing to do with falling out of love”.

“The sparks never faded, but there are issues that I haven’t conquered yet that I know I won’t conquer if I’m relying on somebody else to take care of the loneliness,” said Lovato in her 2017 documentary, “Simply Complicated”.

But Lovato and Valderrama aren’t the only reason to queue up this flick. The movie also stars Ashley Tisdale as Cinderella, Avril Lavigne as Snow White, and Chinese popstar phenomenon G.E.M. as Sleeping Beauty.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com