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

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Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Things That Matter

Gabriel Fernandez’s Mother, Pearl Fernandez, Is Trying to Have Her Murder Conviction Thrown Out

Photos: State of California, Gabriel’s Justice/Facebook

Gabriel Fernandez’s mother, Pearl Fernandez, is trying to have her murder conviction thrown out. The 37-year-old woman has been in jail since 2018 for the murder and torture of her eight-year old son.

Pearl Fernandez is petitioning the court for resentencing, hoping to have her first-degree murder and/or second-degree murder charges thrown out.

Fernandez is hoping to have her sentence vacated based off of new changes to the California state penal code. “I think that she feels that somehow maybe, you know, the special circumstance will be dismissed or maybe she’ll have a chance that the D.A. will agree with the petition,” Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami said to CBSLA.

In June 2018, a judge sentenced Pearl Fernandez to life without parole. The judge charged Pearl Fernandez with the 2013 torture and killing of her eight-year-old son, Gabriel Fernandez.

On May 22, 2013, Gabriel Fernandez died after suffering a fatal beating from his mother. Pearl Fernandez was allegedly angry that he didn’t clean up his toys.

The details of Pearl and her boyfriend’s lengthy torture campaign against Gabriel Fernandez are both gruesome and numerous. Over the course of his eight-month stay with Isauro Aguirre, the couple broke his bones, burned him with cigarettes, pepper-sprayed him, and forced him to eat his own vomit as well as animal feces. And that is just a short-list of what they did.

The case came to national attention after the release of the 2020 Netflix documentary, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez“. The documentary shone a spotlight on the insidious nature of child abuse. It also highlighted the systematic failures of the social services system that fails to protect children.

Elected officials have expressed their disgust at Pearl Fernandez for trying to escape justice by taking advantage of updated laws.

“The policies and directives from my office and these new laws created by the Legislature are emboldening murderers of children to apply to be re-sentenced,” said Deputy DA Hatami to City News Service. “This is completely unfair to the surviving families and their loved ones.”

He continued: “Families now have to relive all the horror that was perpetrated upon a small and helpless child. Based upon all the evidence presented at the grand jury, which was made public, and the jury trial, Pearl Fernandez was a major participant in the torture and murder of little Gabriel.”

It seems obvious by the fact that Pearl Fernandez is trying to get out of jail after torturing her son to death, that she isn’t remorseful about her actions.

Any other mother who killed her son would probably want to spend the rest of her life in jail instead of trying to find a way to get out of it.

If you believe someone you know is experiencing–or committing–child abuse, there are resources to help. Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. Staying vigilant could help save a child like Gabriel Fernandez.

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Mon Laferte Talks Regional Mexican Album ‘Seis’ and Singing With Gloria Trevi

Latidomusic

Mon Laferte Talks Regional Mexican Album ‘Seis’ and Singing With Gloria Trevi

MAYRA ORTIZ

Chilean singer-songwriter Mon Laferte is back with her new album Seis. Across the 14 tracks, she tackles various regional Mexican music genres while enlisting the support of local legends like Gloria Trevi and Alejandro Fernández. That alternative edge that Laferte is known for is still present. In an interview with Latido Music, she talked about her inspiration for the album and the stories behind a few of the songs.

Chavela Vargas was a big inspiration for the album.

Laferte is from Chile, but she’s lived most of her music career in Mexico, so these sounds are familiar sounds to her. Another famous Mexican transplant, Costa Rica-born Chavela Vargas, was a major inspiration for Seis.

“She was a very free woman,” Laferte tells mitú. “I admired her freedom and her gall. She didn’t care what anyone thought. She was who she was. She sang her songs with heart and soul. She left her life in every song.”

There’s even a banda moment on Seis.

Regional Mexican music is heard around the world, especially in Chile. Before moving to Mexico, the sound of the country was part of Laferte’s childhood. She dabbled in banda music for the first time in “Se Me Va A Quemar El Corazón” with Banda El Limón De René Camacho.

“This album is an homage to Mexico, so it had to have a bit of everything that the country is known for,” Laferte says. “It was very important for me to represent banda music on this album. The truth is banda has always been interesting to me.”

“La Mujer” with Gloria Trevi

In a highly-anticipated moment on the album, Laferte teamed up with Trevi for “La Mujer.” She reveals this was a heavily requested collaboration by both their fan bases. In the incredible music video, Laferte and Trevi dance together in front of a giant vagina. The girl power here is everything.

“Gloria is someone who I have always admired since my childhood,” Laferte says. “She’s always been an inspiration to me because she’s a powerful woman too. She’s like Chavela. She’s a woman that rose from the ashes. We were practicing the choreography for the music video and I had so much fun with her. She was just as I imagined she would be.”

During the interview, I blurt out that this was a big moment for their fans in the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s a big moment for me too!” Laferte says with a laugh. “[To my fans in the community] I send them big kisses, a lot of love, and give them my thanks for listening to my music and for all the support.”

“Esta Morra No Se Vende”

Another girl power moment on the album is “Esta Morra No Se Vende.” Laferte is living her best Norteña life in this song that speaks to overly-advertised consumerism. She even lets out a grito to boot.

“That was one of the last songs I wrote for the album,” Laferte says. “Now with what’s happening with social media, this is an ode to ostentation. That I have expensive things. That I have this. That I have that. I believe that’s the reality that me and many other women face. You’re not going to buy me with your money, or your likes, or your numbers of any kind.”

“Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor” with Alejandro Fernández

“Que Se Sepa Nuestro Amor” was the first single from Laferte’s Seis album. With Mexican music royalty, Fernandéz, she has a mariachi music moment. Even though the artists haven’t been able to meet face-to-face, they came through with a dreamy duet.

“When we recorded the song, we were at the beginning of the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Laferte says. “When we were very closed-off and didn’t go out. It was all done from a distance. He was very nice and very professional, but we didn’t see each other. Till this day we haven’t seen each other in person but only through technological means. He’s very cool. Very sweet. He has a beautiful voice.”

“Aunque Te Mueras Por Volver”

One of the most striking songs on Seis is “Aunque Te Mueras Por Volver.” This is most similar to the alternative drama that Laferte has served before in her greatest hits. If there was ever a need for a James Bond theme song in Spanish, this would be the perfect fit.

“The song was inspired by cinema like James Bond and all that,” Laferte says. “It also has that spirit of the music from the time of Frank Sinatra, Raphael from Spain, and José José from Mexico. Like that orchestral era with beautiful voices. The lyrics are the story of my life.” With a smirk, she adds, “Aunque te mueras por volver, but you already lost your chance.”

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Read: Dominican Duo Martox is Keeping Latin Alternative Music Alive with “Mente”

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