Growing up in Havana, Cuba, Mario Garcia was a famous child actor. It all changed in 1962 when he fled as a refugee under Fidel Castro’s administration. He then set aside his acting career, but he was able to convey his passion for acting to his grandson, Maximilian.
Mario was about 10 years old when he first stepped into the set, he told Max during a conversation at StoryCorps. Early this month.
It started with a chance encounter. Mario sat on a bench outside Havana’s studio, waiting while his father, a Cuban jazz saxophonist, was rehearsing the band.
“Suddenly someone approached me and said,’We’re trying to test this commercial,'” he said. “So I got up and made a casting call.”
Even without acting experience under his belt, it quickly felt like a natural career path, Mario said.
“I always seemed to be doing this,” he said. “From commercials, I appeared in telenovela, movies, etc.”
But a revolution took place, and as a result, his career outlook collapsed.
Mario was 15 years old when his parents boarded him on a plane to the United States. He landed in Miami and lived with his aunt and uncle while his parents stayed in Cuba. They joined him in Miami about a year later.
Mario clearly remembered the day he left: February 28, 1962.
“My mother put me in a pinstripe suit and a beautiful white ironed shirt and tie. She told me I’ll never forget.” People are based on your outfit. I appreciate you. “So I arrived in the United States as a refugee who looks like a million dollars. “
He remembered seeing the clear waters of Cuba from the window of an airplane. “It was very, very beautiful,” he recalled in tears.
Mario told Max about his refugee journey on his grandson’s 14th birthday. “It was the first time I was old enough to see everything and see how long it took,” said Max, now 22.
His grandfather was in high school for the first year in Florida. “I lived in a foreign country with no language or parents, went to school, and changed from an actor to a busboy,” he said.
“I remember working and having a 15-minute break. I went back to the alley behind the restaurant, sat in a crate and dried my tears in an apron.”
But Mario told his grandson that his optimism never failed him.
Mario has a PhD. NS He studied Spanish and Spanish literature at the University of Miami and is currently teaching journalism at Columbia University. Still, he said, “When I was 74, I wouldn’t give up getting the good parts of the movie someday.”
Mario’s latest acting job was as an extra for a new musical drama movie In the Heights.. He continues to audition for new roles.
“That optimism, and the big dream I have before the audition, is due to you,” Max told his grandfather.
He probably explained his ideal film role in a romantic comedy.
“My favorite scene is the last scene that chases them at the airport and says,’Don’t leave me, don’t leave me.'”
Mario imagined he would play a supporting role in the movie.
“In the perfect movie, Max, I’ll be an old florist selling bouquets you run with.”
He wants his grandchildren to take advantage of his optimism.
“I hope you’re still dreaming when you’re my age, because the next best thing may be right there,” he said.
Audio produced for Morning Edition By Janmaris Perez. NPR’s Emma Bowman has adapted it to the Web.
StoryCorps is a national non-profit organization that provides friends and loved ones with the opportunity to interview their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folk Life Center in the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. For more information, including how to interview someone in your life StoryCorps.org..
Cuban refugee optimism inspires his grandson’s acting career: NPR
Source link Cuban refugee optimism inspires his grandson’s acting career: NPR