Alfonso “Poncho” Herrera might have become an international heartthrob during his “Rebelde” days back in 2004, but it wasn’t all roses and butterflies.

From that year to their breakup in 2009, RBD sold out arenas across the world — including a record-breaking free concert at the Esplanada dos Ministérios in Brasilia where they performed in front of 500,000 people. Still, the singer and actor recently shared with El País that “Rebelde” execs paid the stars much less than they deserved. Pointing at Televisa, Herrera explained: “[They] weren’t fair and it’s not about money… it’s about our work.”

The interview took a deep-dive into his start as an actor in the early 2000s

Herrera sat down with El País to talk about his new political satire film “¡Que viva México!”, but the conversation soon dove into his beginnings as an actor. The 39-year-old got his start in the 2002 novela “Clase 406,” but his casting in 2004’s “Rebelde” truly put him on the map. Starring in the series as Miguel Arango, a scholarship student looking to avenge his father’s death, Herrera’s role changed his life forever. Plus, Miguel and Mía Colucci’s will-they or won’t-they romance arguably changed our lives forever, too.

While “Rebelde” aired from 2004 to 2006, the resulting band RBD continued to make music and tour until 2009. Herrera, Anahí, Christian Chávez, Dulce María, Maite Perroni and Christopher von Uckermann became some of Latin America’s most familiar faces, selling over 15 million records worldwide. Whether you were a fan — or wore Elite Way School-style ties and button-downs — RBD’s impact was undeniable. Plus, who can forget lyrics like, “Soy rebelde, cuando no sigo a los demás” and Bad Bunny’s fave “Sálvame de la oscuridad, no me dejes caer jamás”?

The actor described a contract that took away RBD’s rights to any merchandising money

Still, Herrera’s memories of that time in his life are much different than you would expect. He’s not joining the rest of the band for this year’s one-time comeback Soy Rebelde Tour, even though he’s not ashamed of his beginnings in the slightest. He explained, “Every life stage is important… My past makes me the person I am today and I look back with affection, humility, and gratitude.” That being said, he described being paid unfairly by “Rebelde” creators and signing an exploitative contract, which he still questions.

He explained, “When you talk about Televisa and ‘Rebelde’… It was hard, because we signed a contract where we gave up rights to the character, the image, and everything… in terms of merchandising, we didn’t see one dollar.”

Herrera recalled seeing RBD members’ faces on “cookie packaging, gum, juices, notebooks, sneakers, [and] pencils,” but they weren’t paid for using their likeness. However, it actually gets worse. Remember RBD’s concert at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum back in March 2006? As in, the one that broke the record for the highest paid attendance for a Latin concert in the U.S. with more than 63,000 people in attendance? According to Herrera, he was only paid “18,000 pesos” for that concert, which amounts to less than $1,000 U.S. dollars.

Herrera also talked about the tragedy at RBD’s autograph signing in Sao Paulo in 2006

While he still maintains a “good” relationship with Televisa, where many of his friends still work, he thinks the agreement with RBD members should have changed “in proportion” to their massive growth. As for the rest of the band members, he wishes them the best and feels “appreciation” and “respect” towards them. Even more because they went through situations together that no one else can fully understand — such as when three Sao Paulo fans were trampled and died at an autograph signing in 2006.

About the tragic situation, Herrera said the band supported each other because they didn’t have professional psychological help. Even though the members went back to Brazil and visited the victims’ families, the actor explains that it affected him “deeply” for life.

One more thing? The actor asserts that he did not ask for an exorbitant amount of money to join the comeback tour, he simply chose to focus on other projects. In fact, he prefers for execs to pay the other members what they would have paid him — for all the “ch*nga que se metieron” back in the day.