Salvador Chacon – Small Things Matter
Words + Interview By: Lucky Smith
Meet Salvador Chacon, who stars as Pablo in the FX television series, “Mayans M.C.”, which takes place in the same universe as “Sons of Anarchy”. The actor/producer/director talks acting, working behind the scenes and the importance of treating people with kindness because he believes “we’re all we’ve got”.
What was life like prior to acting?
I have always been involved in the arts, especially the performing arts. From a very young age I began acting in school plays, from elementary all the way to college. Before I started acting professionally I attended college in Texas where I got a BA in Drama. At one point I also really wanted to get involved in real-life filmmaking, so right after I graduated college I started working on film sets as an assistant camera in the sound and art department.
How did you get your start in Hollywood? So far, has Hollywood lived up to your expectations?
Well, after I moved to L.A. in 2010 it took me a solid year to get a sense of the city and how it worked. I also was without a car for almost 18 months. Being car-less made auditioning more complicated with enduring a trek every time. But, in 2011 I started auditioning more often and luckily started booking commercials. Commercials were my first paid acting (or on screen) jobs and my very first role on a TV show (near to 2 years ago) was for a CBS pilot that still hasn’t seen the light of day.
Which role in particular do you feel was the one that changed your life and why?
I don’t think I’ve had a role that’s changed my life but I feel most roles change my life a little each time as I embrace different emotions and circumstances that the character requires. These roles might not be my everyday reality but it is a reality for others out there so getting to experience, or at least be aware of such emotions and life paths has opened my heart and my mind.
Tell us about “Mayans M.C.” and your role as Pablo.
Mayans M.C. has been an amazing opportunity and dream come true in many ways. It’s a show that goes beyond just entertainment and actually gives the audience a view into the lives and emotions of it’s characters. Pablo is Adelita’s right-hand-man. He is there to make sure that anything that needs to be done for the rebel cause to prosper is done. He takes care of business and as a loyal man that firmly believes in what they are fighting for, he has an ‘all in’ mentality.
What has been your most memorable experience to date as an actor?
I think Mayans M.C. is definitely up there. Having the chance to work with so many talented people at once is quite fantastic.
What does it mean to “produce” a film?
Producing can happen on different levels. You can produce a film from inception, meaning you come up with an idea, develop it, write a script, finance it, shoot and edit it and finally distribute it. But, you can also produce a film that’s been developed and it just needs to be put together. You gather all the pieces and players that seem to be the best for that specific project and you make it happen, taking it from the page to the screen.
You co-directed and starred in the short, “Jesse James”. Tell us about this film and your approach as a director and actor putting it together.
Jesse James is a dramatic and experimental piece that a good friend of mine originally wrote for the stage. After performing it and achieving a positive reaction, he thought of putting it into film. The film is about a sex-fluid prostitute (Jesse) and her self-indulging abusive pimp (James). The timing is a pivotal point in his/her life where she has to make choices in order to survive or be condemned to abuse…and ultimately death. I directed Jesse James together with my brother, Aldo Chacon and we both wanted to stay true to the story that our friend, Jesus had written.
We wanted to honor the world where he imagined these characters would live in but also add our own personal touch. We wanted the world of this film to look extremely real, very gritty and truly depressing while also maintaining a great level of aesthetics. For Aldo and I, art direction is key which is why most of the time we try to do it ourselves; we have more control. I have to admit that acting and directing at the same time was quite difficult. All the technical aspects of the film is one thing to think about and then there’s the performance of the character’s emotions. It can be a handful! Lucky for me, I have my brother on the other side of the monitor who can make the right choices independently while keeping in mind both of our perspectives.
A lot of aspiring filmmakers don’t understand the importance of great sound quality early on. Being someone who has worked in the sound department, why is this necessary?
Bad sound will take any audience out of the realism of the film in less than 30 seconds. You can see a beautiful picture, but if the dialogue begins and sounds like a homemade video, it’s over. Most people don’t realize the importance of sound because their perspective is as seen in theatres or on a television with excellent sound quality. I have been asked many times by the cinematographer before starting production on a project, “Who is doing the sound?” because they know the film will be ruined without impeccable recording. Also, a lot of beginners tend to think is easy to just “fix it in post”. Well it’s not, especially if you are short on funds. Re-recording and ADR sessions have the potential to cost a fortune.
As a Latino, who have been your heroes in real life and if you could play any superhero, who would it be?
For me as a Latino, I have many heroes that have done some cool things. For example, Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena invented the first color TV screen at the age of 17 and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s literature has touched so many. I would love to see a superhero in the form of a great leader, at least for Mexico which is where I come from. We are so desperately in need of a leader who has true love for the country and love for the people. Someone that is willing to take control and make the right choices for the majority and not for the 1%. For me, I think I could be a great Batman.
What is your dream role?
I have many but I’ve always wanted to play a villain in a James Bond film.
What are your “Top 5” films of all time?
The Pianist, Cinema Paradiso, The Godfather (1,2), Remember the Titans and Magnolia.
What kind of advice could you give aspiring actors who are trying to get their foot in the door?
I would say definitely have a plan of attack because there are so many people out there trying to do the same thing you are. If you have a strategy it will be less difficult. It’s good to have a path to follow even if it takes a long time to walk through it. Realize the things you actually need to do to secure jobs versus the ones you don’t. Don’t spend your money going to “fancy” places trying to meet someone or get “connections”. Instead, join a good class where you can master your craft so when you get that next audition you go in there a rock it. Don’t take it personal if you go to 50 auditions and you don’t book a job. There are many things that factor into getting a part. Yes, being a good actor is a must but it won’t necessarily get you the job every time. Hard work and perseverance will lead you to an open door.
Name a cause that you are passionate about.
Human Rights. We need to create consciousness amongst each other and understand that our population is 7 billion, but we are all we’ve got. If we promote a culture of hate, racism, abuse and bullying, we will destroy ourselves. Although so many things are out of our control, I do believe that the small things matter. Simple things like exercising patience and having tolerance with other humans around you can go a long way.
How do you feel about Donald Trump and his plans to “build the wall”?
Build bridges. A wall is just what it sounds like…a wall. It won’t fix immigration.
What do you think the biggest misconception is about Latin America as a whole?
That we are all a bunch of uneducated savages running around in colorful clothes and selling drugs. I encourage others to look closer. Latin America is part of the world filled with history, culture and warm and loving people.
How can people reach you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram @chaconsal, on Facebook: Salvador Chacon and on Twitter @sgutchack.
Any last words?
Thank You! And always, BE KIND.
Photo By: Aldo Chacon