Although Julio Macias Was Born In Mexico City, He Assimilated When He Moved To The U.S. And Lost Touch With His Roots — Until He Landed A Part In ‘On My Block’
Part of the appeal of “On My Block” is the resounding connections with its fans is its ability to paint stereotypical characters in a completely new light. The show is giving Latinos a chance to be represented in media without the negative stereotypes we see in media all the time. Either the characters are given qualities we don’t see or the stereotypical roles are given a different depth that just speaks to us.
One example of that is the tough head of the neighborhood gang—Spooky, who happens to be the older brother of Cesar Diaz, one of the show’s protagonists.
Played by actor Julio Macias, Spooky showed on season one he had a much more multifaceted backstory than audiences first thought. In an exclusive interview with mitú, Macias talks about how Spooky wants the best for his brother and how playing him allowed him to connect more to being a Latino in this generation.
Thanks to Spooky, Julio Macias feels more connected to his Latino roots.
“I think the core four all knew Oscar before we was Spooky, before when he was a kid,” Macias says. “They all knew Oscar as well, so I think that’s the reason they don’t mess with him in that sense. They know he is coming from a broken past, but he wants an optimistic future not for him, but for his brother.”
That’s some deep stuff right there.
It was that touching beach scene in which Spooky reveals all the ways he took care of Cesar when they were kids that first attracted Macias to even play the role of a gang member.
“What attracted me to the role was the beach scene. It was the first thing that I read that I auditioned for the role,” he says.
He added Spooky’s lines in that scene convinced him to give that role a second chance.
“I had that pre-judgment of that character even before I played him,” Macias admits.
Macias added: “What attracted me was that scene is really heartfelt, and he is coming from a place of love and is protecting his brother in the way he can.”
Macias credits the talented cast and crew for the ability to bring range to Spooky’s character.
“I’m very happy [creators] Lauren, Jeremy and Eddie allowed me to be vulnerable. It was written in a certain way, but we played with it and working with Diego [Tinoco] was fantastic,” Macias says. “It’s not me—it’s a village, it’s the writers, the directors. It morphed into let’s explore this character on a deeper level, and you wouldn’t get to see that in that character [usually.]”
Macias, who was born in Mexico City and moved to the U.S. with his family as a kid, says that he tried to assimilate into the culture as much as he could so he wouldn’t be seen as ‘other.’
“I constantly tried to talk like them [his peers at school], and tried to fit in by blending in,” he says.
Playing Spooky allowed him to come into his own as a an actor—and a Latino.
“So far in my career, this is by far the best character,” Macias says. “It’s a blessing—it really is—not only for opening my roots and my culture, and my place in this conversation. And the conversation will continue and push in the right direction.
“And besides from that, that Netflix and Lauren [Iungerich] allowed me to create a character that was so removed from myself,” Macias adds.
Macias feels #blessed playing Spooky allowed him to be anything but boxed in.
“As a Latino, you try to blend in and incorporate yourself even as an actor. I just wanted to be an actor, not like ‘that Mexican actor or Latino actor,’” he says.
“Once I started playing this character, I[asked] ‘Why didn’t I lean into it before?’ This role opened up my understanding of who I am and my culture and my place in all of this,” Macias explained.
Now that season 3 has a definite greenlight, Macias says he wants to “throw a wrench” in what audiences expect of Spooky.
“One thing I would like to do because this would be fun as an actor—we’ve seen Spooky bark and see why people are scared of him, but we still need to understand what happened for him to make [these] choices.I would like to complicate the character, to explore that,” he says.
Looks like we will all have to wait and see what’s in store for him and the rest of the cast when the show returns for its third season!
On My Block seasons one and two are currently streaming on Netflix.