On My Block is a Netflix original series that follows the lives of a group of young teens as they navigate their way through life while living in a rough inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood. Ever since the series premiered on the streaming platform in March 2018, it has been met with positive responses from audiences around the world, with many praising its diverse cast and story lines. The show’s second season just debuted in March, and exactly one month after, Netflix announced that the show had been renewed for a third season, with Sierra Capri (Monse), Jason Genao (Ruby), Brett Gray (Jamal), Diego Tinoco (Cesar), and Jessica Marie Garcia (Jasmine) all reprising their roles.
By far, one of the standout characters on On My Block has been “Jasmine.” She is hilarious, confident, and never afraid to say what’s on her mind. Throughout the episodes, viewers gradually learn more about Jasmine and her backstory, ultimately realizing that her role on the show is more than just the comic relief.
The woman behind Jasmine is none other than Cuban-American actress Jessica Marie Garcia, who some may know from playing “Willow Cruz” on Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie.
CelebMix had the opportunity to interview Jessica Marie Garcia about her role on ‘On My Block’, the importance of representation, and the transition from Disney to Netflix star. Read our full interview with her below.
Hi Jasmine! Thank you so much for speaking with us today. First, we just wanted to say congratulations for the ‘On My Block’ renewal! What was your reaction to hearing that the series got renewed?
Yay! Oh my god, a sigh of relief because you just never have any idea! I was just hoping that it could happen just because I want to know what happens to everybody [the characters] because like, I’m a fan of the show too.
I feel like this time of the year is when we’re getting news of cancellations and renewals. As an actor, is that something you get nervous about, especially at this time of the year?
Yeah, because you just never know. It’s such a faith and a wish and a prayer industry.
Can we just say, we are so happy seeing you achieve so much success with this series, especially being a Latina actress. This show deals with the lives of black and brown people and it does a lot in terms of representation.
Thank you! Yeah, I feel the same way. I wish this show was around when I was a kid. When I first got the script, I was just sucked in from the beginning. It’s so rare when you’re able to see a show and see yourself as a multitude of different things. These are families and these are people that are going through the same struggles. These teenagers are going through first heartbreaks and first loves and first days of school and are kids at the end of the day regardless of what color they are.
It’s also so rare to see a show that actually goes home with them [the kids]. I think we see so many shows where there’s a shooting and then we move on, but we actually get to go home with them and see how it effects everybody.
For people who may live in areas where these things don’t happen as often, this shows offers a new perspective because we’re able to see what goes on in these kids’ lives.
The story is from people who’ve been there, like Eddie Gonzalez, one of our creative writers, is from Compton. Ruby is loosely based off of him, so it’s important to actually have people like Ed on the creative end because that is how you get stories accurately and not just a caricature of the person.
For season two, you became a series regular. What does that mean to you?
I’ve been doing this forever and I’ve been blessed to be a recurring guest star, but a series regular has been on my bucket list, so the fact that my first series regular is on this show is just crazy. It feels like everything happens for a reason.
You were previously on ‘Liv and Maddie’. How is the filming process different for a Disney Channel show on TV versus a show on a streaming platform like Netflix?
It’s different because Liv and Maddie was a multi-cam comedy, meaning that you go to the same studio every day, there are specific sets, and there is air conditioning, which is really nice! But On My Block is single-cam, and it’s a lot more exciting shooting for a single-cam dramedy because you get to do a lot more things than in a studio.
Since the show is on Netflix, you get immediate feedback from fans after a season drops because they tend to binge-watch it all in one session. What is that like?
The immediate feedback is incredible. The fact that it [second season] came out at midnight and people are texting and tweeting at 4 o’clock in the morning that they finished the whole thing is crazy, but it’s kind of insane when they’re like, “Okay, season 3!” It might have taken you four hours to watch, but it took us months to shoot! So in that aspect, it’s fun that you get to see everybody’s reaction so quickly, but at the same time, it’s like, “Oh, it’s over.”
We’re two seasons in now and about to go on a third, what has it been like seeing your character grow throughout the series?
Amazing. I feel like I need to thank Netflix every day of my life. Season one was incredible. Jasmine was always laughing and being loud, but at the same time, when I went into preparing for Jasmine, I knew how multi-layered she was from the get because I am familiar with this girl. I am this girl, so I know she puts up this front in order to build walls so you don’t see that she’s hurting or what she goes home to, so the fact that we got to see that in season two was priceless for me because it’s so easy to ride off a person like that without realizing people go through this.
So many people look up to you. What do you have to say to those fans?
I’m so back and forth with it. When people throw around the word, “role model,” it’s a lot of pressure. I’m very honored to have it, but at the same time, I mess up too, but I’m thankful that they see something in themselves in me.
You have over one million followers on Instagram. What does it mean to you to have such a large platform to speak to people?
It’s a responsibility because I have a lot of young fans and it’s important for me to not steer them in a direction that I wouldn’t be proud of, but at the same time I want to be authentic to myself, so it’s a balance of being true to myself but also trying to show my fans how to be successful and how to love themselves.
Also, in terms of representation, this show might be the first time someone sees someone like themselves in media. Could you talk more about that?
It’s kind of surreal because you don’t know you’re being oppressed. Then as you grow older, you notice that there’s less and less people that look like you. There’s usually a white lead and then the best friend is either black or brown, so the fact that our whole cast is of color is refreshing and it’s also refreshing to hear the feedback we get from people who are Caucasian because they don’t necessarily see it as a black and brown show. I feel like that used to be a thing before. It’s important that we have multifaceted characters.
What would you like to say to those who haven’t watched the show yet?
Well, first of all, we’re not friends because you should have watched it! I hope you give us a shot, especially if you want to see what it’s like to really live in LA and what goes on in an inner city in California. I hope you give us a chance and look past some of the stigma you may already have with a show like this and think about how human these kids are.