Disney+’s Frankie Rodriguez will pleasantly surprise you with his mega energy.

Make your dreams and passion projects come true: (Don’t worry: Actor Frankie Rodriguez provides a how-to here.)

- edited by CATALINA staff; Photos by Jesse Ashton

We’re at it again: finding today’s most extraordin­ary artists and daring them to blow minds of all ages! Young Podcaster, Cristina Areu, had an assignment and accomplish­ed it beautifull­y, thanks to Actor Frankie Rodriguez, one of Disney’s most unique Latinx stars who plays Carlos in the new Disney+ show: HighSchool­Musical: TheMusical:TheSeries.

From landing a dream gig on the Disney television series, to having fun on the set, Frankie opens up to Cristina and reminds you/ us to never give up! Never! Fashion sense, dancing, and being true to yourself is discussed as well! Read on because Frankie’s advice and goals are spot on:

Cristina Areu: We were just watching you as Carlos! You’re so funny. What’s the difference between you and him?

Frankie Rodriguez: Oh goodness … I would say there’s pretty much no difference! He just has better fashion sense, like a better sense of style than I do I would say. I think it takes him a little bit more time to learn how to operate with his peers, versus I was always just like, “Who wants to hang out?” So yeah I would say I’m a little more social than he is.

CA: I heard you auditioned five times. Is that true?

FR: Yes, it was crazy! So I had my first three auditions for casting, and then my last two auditions were for all of the important Disney people, so yeah over the course of three weeks. It was kind of crazy.

CA: What was it like auditionin­g?

FR: I noticed it was kind of strange. I think it’s because the audition was down the street from my house, and I was comfortabl­e with the character, and I loved the characters. I think I just went in so comfortabl­e, so it’s definitely one of my favorite auditions’ processes. … So literally it was the exact same thing every single time. One other scene didn’t end up in the show, but it was a scene with me and Amy. So yeah they just had me do those two scenes, and then they had me sing two songs. And it was kind of the same thing over and over and over again, but I was surprised they didn’t make me dance!

CA: How many people watched when you auditioned?

FR: When I first auditioned, there was just the one casting associate. Then after that, they would add a little more. But I think by the time I made it to my last audition there was about every Disney executive

in the building, so I would say 30 people!

CA: Is your background Latinx?

FR: Yes, both of my grandparen­ts from both sides of my mom and dad come from Mexico. I mean especially growing up in a Latino family knowing that we all love Disney as such a family platform, and to represent that culture that’s kind of not always represente­d on television. It’s great because I feel like for the first time kids are finally able to connect to something.

CA: What was your dream, and what’s your advice for people to make their dreams come true?

FR: My dream is literally what I am doing every single day. It’s kind of crazy. I always wanted to be singing and dancing; and I loved all things Disney, of course, and the Disney channel was like very influentia­l on me, so it’s crazy that I get to do it all now. … I still can’t believe it – sometimes I have to wake up and pinch myself, but it’s fantastic. It did not just happen overnight. I really have been working at this – at least profession­ally – for the last five years, and it’s a big hustle. So if this is something you want to do, I would say: buckle in, do as much as you can, take as many dance classes, take those acting classes, and just have fun with it.

CA: What about the tough times? Were there any tough times? FR: For sure. Before HighSchool­Musical, I decided that I wanted a new agent, and I wanted to get a new manager. And so I got both of them – and I’m not even kidding – they just disappeare­d out of thin air. I had no idea where they went, I felt so left alone. And I told myself, “OK, I’m really gonna have to do this on my own.” So I emailed every single agent that would hear me, and luckily I got a response back. She was like, “I know exactly what to do with you.” And I think those were definitely tough times for me because when you’re just left to your own devices, it can be kind of crazy and scary. But I just never gave up because this is what I wanted to do.

CA: How do you believe in yourself?

FR: First of all, I have two amazing parents that are so supportive who I always knew would have my back during difficult times – like when you’re eating Ramen and leftover sandwiches from your day job, so I knew I’d always have that support. Also, I never saw my

self doing anything else, and I was surrounded by a lot of friends who were booking successful things, so I knew it was possible. I just knew I had to stick it out until the right project came – and I’m so glad I did!

CA: Is your character groundbrea­king for Disney?

FR: Yeah! For this specific character, Carlos, he’s the first openly gay character written on a Disney platform show, and so for children’s programmin­g, that’s pretty big because we’re not trying to you know … in the first season, there’s no coming out episode – just him living his life and just kind of seeing what happens. … The response has been very supportive! There’s a lot of messages from kids who are saying, “I feel seen for the very first time, and you inspire me.”

CA: It’s about time!

FR: Right? I think so too, and on our show alone, we have four openly gay charcacter­s on the show. So I think that’s pretty groundbrea­king for Disney. They’re definitely pushing the limits.

CA: What’s your next dream?

FR: Oh my goodness, that’s actually a great question because I’m kind of at the spot where I realized I reached the dream that I had for so long, and so now I’m trying to figure out what’s next. I do have a lot of passion projects, and so I think the next biggest thing I’m setting for myself is Broadway. Let’s see if I can get there.

CA: On the show you said “Broadway” When the teacher asked where you were supposed to be, you said, “Broadway.” FR: Right! So it’s scripted, it’s written, it’s out there in the universe and I’m ready!

CA: Any advice for kids who want to keep their dream going? FR: I would say just really believe in yourself, and know that you can do it! Anything is possible, and I’m saying that who comes from a farm town in the middle of California where literally the nearest acting class was about an hour away. I would say it’s possible; you can do it. You just have to make some goals for yourself and just cross them off the list as they start to come to fruition. ■

... buckle in, i do as much muc as you can, ... and just have h fun un with it.

I had ad to t stick it out t until un the e right righ project came – and d I’m I’ so glad I did! d!

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 ??  ?? Subscribe now! ■ Find Frankie Rodriguez on HighSchool­Musical:TheMusical: TheSeries on Disney+ To hear this exclusive interview, listen to CATALINA Stars: Young & Famous podcast with Cristina Areu, and subscribe wherever your favorite podcasts are found. ■
Subscribe now! ■ Find Frankie Rodriguez on HighSchool­Musical:TheMusical: TheSeries on Disney+ To hear this exclusive interview, listen to CATALINA Stars: Young & Famous podcast with Cristina Areu, and subscribe wherever your favorite podcasts are found. ■
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