Catching up with Alejandro Arzciat and his thoughts about Hollywood and staying grounded

Actor Alejandro Arzciat
Actor Alejandro Arzciat

Hi Alejandro, since we last spoke to you, you have been up to some really exciting stuff including some short films and a feature film. You have also been focusing on your inner being and spirituality, which in a town like LA, is pretty important. I would love to talk to you about all of these things:

First of all, how far do you feel you have come from 3 years ago when you first arrived in LA? What have you learned the most?

I feel there is certainly a “before” and “after” version of myself from when I arrived and to how I sense myself now, having uncertainty linking both of these versions and how facing it has defined most of what I am right now. At the beginning, as it likely happens to a lot of people coming to this city, there are expectations created in one’s mind that ultimately get dissolved into what and how reality actually is (and still there’s always a personal perspective). So to get a broad and clear perspective of the Entertainment industry, and to realize in which position you really are and how far or close you can reach is an-ever-work-in-progress. There’s always something more just when you thought you got it. Now, while still learning as I go, more and more I pay attention to my intuitive inner guidance to discern the choices I should make.

How have you remained so grounded and not stressed out in an industry such as Hollywood?

I came, like I mentioned, with certain expectations and things I wanted, or so I thought I did. Little did I know that along the way, I would find not only opportunities in my career, but answers in a deeper path everyone in any profession deeply has: the spiritual path.

Los Angeles is such an interesting city in which two seemingly polar opposites coexist so closely: achieving material success Vs. achieving spiritual realizations. Hollywood has a very success, go-getter, over achiever-fast rhythm mentality that I’ve been able to adapt to and actually like in the sense that you focus to get things done (sometimes too many!) but you can pay the price for that, and lose yourself in all this achieving, away from the bigger picture of why you are doing any of what you do in the first place.

That’s when my spiritual search,(that I had unknowingly begun before by reading a lot of books and reflecting) came forth and grew with full force to keep myself, and my Self, more in touch with what matters the most, above any other kind of success you can imagine: your Self-Realization in the spiritual path. And we are all in it, whether we have consciously realized it or not. And Los Angeles has a very interesting mix between those two seemingly divergent forces. So tuning myself with my inner rhythm and trusting my own perspective on things and not just accepting an imposed external one has reduced that anxiety from thinking I’m not successful enough or as successful as I should be. Of course there is more I can achieve, but now I trust my intuition and do pursue my goals, but with an inner reassurance that I’m creating my path, not just submitting to an external, often illusive, and at times with almost impossible standards.

How do you find California compared to where you grew up?

More progressive in the mind set people have here about what they can achieve, and more organized in the way social interactions work, but at the price of being, to put it in a way: “cold”. Back in Mexico, and perhaps in Latin America in general, there is what I perceive as a socially-learnt-and-passed-on passivity that gets in the way of progress and  that follows a disorganized way of doing things, but that may be provoked by people being more “warm” and familiar with each other, and not so only business driven. I’d like to find that sweet middle spot and take the best of these two cultures.

Have you found it difficult to transition into the LA lifestyle? Or do you feel you have easily adjusted?

I was once told by someone I work for here in L.A.:”welcome to the jungle”. And I didn’t say it, but in the back of my mind I sort of chuckled thinking: “Man, I come from Mexico City, how much more of a jungle could this could be!!” So, like any transition it certainly had it’s difficulties (and still has them, especially in the way people interact with each other). Then I have realized along the way too, that in spite of coming from another “jungle”, in this one, the rhythm can be very fast, and that there are a lot of talented people all around “jumping from tree to tree” and that you want to be picked for projects or like I hear it here: “to hustle” you really have to step up your game, no matter what activity you do. People are very competitive in this town.

What are some of the most important things to do and remember as an actor in LA?

I’d like to use another analogy for this one: that even the saying “a small fish in a big pond” has a certain degree of truth behind it, you can make your swim as enjoyable or as hard as you want to make it. If you want to swim where the sharks are, then you better know where you are getting into and step up your game cause they know what they’re doing; in other instances, you gotta be careful not to try to dive in an “oasis” in the middle of the dessert, cause it may just be that: a mirage; water that you so much wanted to be there, that you make yourself think it’s there…then you hit the sand.

Opportunities can present themselves suddenly and you have to be really ready to perform at a moment’s notice; then enjoy the process. Acting is one of those activities and art forms that “look easy” when done by someone that has a high degree of expertise, especially because it just “seem as people just talking”. But it goes as deep as you allow yourself to go, and as precise as the times you continually practice and “keep the edge sharp”. So watching a lot of movies is not good enough, you have to stand up and do it. That’s when finding the right acting workshops is key to continuously work on “doing it” and better yet, to find projects, even if they are small, to get the experience.

Tell us about some of the films you have done and which one was your highlight?

Some of the ones that I’ve like best are East Side Sushi, Crumb of Courage, The Executioners, Cinder Pumpkin. And I can think of East Side Sushi and Crumb of Courage as the main highlights; East Side Sushi has been traveling a lot throughout the country in a lot of film festivals and has even been screened in Europe, but in this one I had a smaller role. Crumb of Courage was one of my first strong leads that I did while here in L.A.

Which character was your favorite to play so far?

I think Milton from Crum of Courage has been one of the characters I’ve enjoyed the most because he is just a common man that when faced against extraordinary circumstances he rises above the norm and the collective fear to make a difference in whatever way he can. It doesn’t have to be with a super elaborate plan, but with just an action when the time comes to do it. I remember having a sense of a vaccum from your person, with how prisoners in concentration camps found themselves in those terrible circumstances, and how to even consider crossing the line in your behavior was not an option, or else… So Milton, really having nothing to lose, just made a difference in the way he could.

Tell us what keeps you most humble and grounded?

I have been through enough experiences in my life to know that to feel superior just because you have a certain “status” of being an actor does not give you the right to do whatever you want. One thing is being spontaneous and more expressive, but anyone is just another clog in a bigger machinery. So I find that it’s always better to have this in mind; and I think people in production appreciate it better than when they work with a difficult and demanding personality. If you have a great talent, be grateful to the high up above, from which that talent is being expressed through you.

What can we expect to see from you in the near future?

I’d like to incursion a lot more into voice over work. It’s a branch in the industry that also offers a lot of opportunities to get involved in great projects. And on the side, I have been playing harmonica for years, and now I’ve started to take music lessons, since I’ve just been playing intuitively, so I’m hoping to improve myself enough to start playing in a band. I love to play my harmonica for hours, so why not hone that talent and see with whom I can match up and start something with that! But this last one might take a little longer. I can’t spread myself too thin, you know.