Brat TV star Santiago Carrera, who portrayed brainiac Gus on the hit Gen Z show Chicken Girls, began his professional acting career at the age of 12, after attending a global talent competition where he caught the attention of leading agents and managers.
Just six months into acting classes, Santiago was auditioning regularly for top network projects and landing callbacks with industry greats like Eva Longoria. He made his professional acting debut on the seventh season of Chicken Girls, where he and co-star Hayley LeBlanc became best friends.
CelebMix spoke with Santiago Carrera to discover more about his thoughts on acting, including scripts, directors, and how he prepares for his roles.
What three things can’t you live without?
I can’t live without my phone, my bed, and some good food.
In your role as Gus on Chicken Girls, who is your favorite character to interact with?
When I’m in my role of Gus on ‘Chicken Girls,’ I’d say my favorite character to interact with is Claire. I think Gus and Claire had really good chemistry in season 8 of ‘Chicken Girls’, and Elliana and I had so much fun filming our scenes together.
How did you get started in acting?
I took local acting classes here in San Diego and then attended a talent competition a few months later. At the competition I was able to perform in front of top LA agents and managers, I ended up singing with my current agent and manager from there. Since then, I’ve been auditioning for projects that my team sends my way.
What do you feel is more important for an actor, talent or training?
Training for sure, even the most talented actor can improve in some ways. It’s so important for all actors to constantly be taking classes to keep up with their skills. I definitely do think some people are naturally talented, but training literally can’t do anything except make you better.
Which is more important, a good script or a good director?
I’d say a good script is more important, I’ve definitely auditioned for projects where the script feels so unnatural. If the script feels unnatural it’s going to be hard for most actors to make it feel natural. Of course, a good script and a good director go hand in hand for making great content, but if it had to be one or the other, I think the script is a little more important.
Which types of acting do you feel you are most suited for?
I’d have to say I suit drama more. I think I audition for about the same amount of comedy and drama projects, but drama usually pushes me out of my comfort zone a little bit and when I’m pushed, I think I can give a stronger performance.
How do you react when you receive a negative review about a performance?
When I receive a negative review about a performance it definitely stings a little, but I use it as motivation to keep working on improving my skills. It also depends where the negative review is from, if it’s a random comment on the internet it doesn’t affect me because people online can just be rude. If it’s a review from someone on my team or a casting director or something, I honestly appreciate it even though it might sting because they’re just trying to help me and telling me what I need to work on.
What steps do you take to fully understand the importance of your character to the story?
I like to look at my character’s storyline alongside the other characters and see how my character affects them and how my character affects the storyline. I always create a specific backstory to understand my character and to understand why they are who they are. I like to be able to put myself into my character’s shoes and see how their actions might be affecting other characters.
What techniques do you use to create a believable character?
I work with my acting coach to create a backstory for the character I’m portraying. I feel like if you know the character’s backstory, it’s easier to put yourself in their shoes. My coach and I like to get specific and replace some of the character’s experiences with my real-life experiences so I can relate to the character. I’ve found this technique super helpful throughout the last few years.
Who do you consider to be your acting role model? And why?
I’d say that my acting role model is probably Jenna Ortega. She started on a kids show and was able to really do a huge 180 turn in her career, now she’s starring in more serious roles and is doing huge projects. Obviously ‘Stuck in the Middle’ was huge but I think it was cool how as she grew the projects she did got more mature. I really hope to have a similar career path to hers.
What advice do you have for emerging actors?
My advice for emerging actors is to keep going no matter how discouraged you get, you’re gonna hear ‘no’ a lot more than you’ll hear ‘yes’ in this industry. It definitely gets super discouraging at times, but you have to keep going and keep working on improving your skills. Eventually, the right role will come around. Just keep going and eventually you’ll hear that life-changing ‘yes,’ I promise it’ll all feel worth it!