Originally from Puerto Rico, Sevier Crespo grew up in Dallas, Texas, followed by moving to Los Angles to pursue an acting career that took off almost immediately, with roles on NYPD Blues, Switched at Birth, Jackers and Walking with Angels.
After working with Robert Townsend, Crespo studied production at UCLA, while at the same time working under and learning from Joe Pytka and Sam Bayer. Crespo also learned from heavyweights such as Michael Mann, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Ridley Scott.
Since then, Crespo’s career has flourished. He’s worked with David Beckham, Kendrick Lamar, Kurt Russell, Ariana Grande, Mandy Moore, and Demi Lovato, along with producing for Netflix and NBCUniversal.
In a recent op-ed for Rolling Stone, Sevier Crespo shed light on his unique perspective. The piece delves into the challenges he’s faced in breaking cultural and generational barriers. It emphasizes how societal expectations can shape one’s beliefs about their potential and calls for readers to reevaluate their own backgrounds and embrace their strengths.
CelebMix spoke with Sevier Crespo to explore this compelling narrative of identity, aspiration, and resilience.
Can you recall a specific time when you questioned your cultural background and how it influenced your perspective?
I’ve never really questioned my cultural background. It’s the one foundation that has always kept me centered. It’s been an anchor point. I am very proud of who I am and of my cultural background.
Being a line producer of Puerto Rican descent working in Hollywood, what challenges did you face and how did they impact this?
I think the challenge is the perception of yourself and others. People tend to shy away from change or what is different from what they know or what they look like. It’s something that made me stronger and made me realize either I need to find a way to continue to show up or tap out. I had to look at myself and find ways to remain motivated and keep showing up.
Can you tell us more about the time on set that highlighted the lack of representation? How did it inspire you to write about this issue?
It’s a fine line because it’s not the lack of representation, even though that is a thing. It was more the acknowledgment of where I had come from and who I was representing that was the real issue. I didn’t grow up viewing people for their skin color. In Puerto Rico, like in many Hispanic cultures, we all looked different. So, I was unaware of it. Becoming more aware of it inspired me to be more intentional. It gave me a sense of responsibility to some degree.
Have societal expectations based on your background affected your career choices?
I think going back to being proud, the way I was raised, and the point of view that my parents instilled in me. People in Puerto Rico have a strong point of view about themselves, which is why I never allowed society’s expectations to affect me. So, I didn’t have that. I didn’t let society dictate my existence, work, or life.
How has introspection about your cultural background led to a significant revelation or change in perspective?
Traveling the world provides a different viewpoint on things. There’s something about it that strengthens what you believe in and what you stand for. I realized that who I am as a person is more important than material things or one’s ‘status.’ If you don’t watch it, you can sort of ‘lose who you are’ when you’re influenced by different cultures and environments. When I started going back home, it reminded me who I was, which allowed me to stand out and be me. It’s interesting because it made me happier. It allowed me to just be my true and best version of myself.
What strengths, personal or cultural, have played a key role in your career or personal growth?
I think we are a festive, loving, and caring culture naturally. We’re outgoing and, at the same time, we’re a proud and powerful culture. That has helped me in life because I’ve tried to live by example. I think people enjoy that—and I enjoy it too. I think that’s been my strength. I also feel like it’s contagious. It’s infectious. I don’t operate or function with fear and negativity.
Can you share an example of a perceived “weakness” that you chose to reevaluate? And how has it changed your approach to life?
I felt a lot of anger growing up, having moved from Puerto Rico to the States and dealing with culture shock. My English wasn’t the best and there was a constant mocking of my accent. My answer to that was to fight. If I thought you were being rude or disrespectful and were trying to make fun of me, I would just hit you in the face. I didn’t care. That’s how I retaliated. But I also realized I needed to handle it because I wasn’t happy, and that person wasn’t really me. I remembered what my mom and grandmother had taught me in terms of right and wrong, and it brought on a sense of shame. I decided to be the best human being possible from that day forward. If I think about it now, it breaks my heart. We must treat people with kindness. It all came from realizing that I wasn’t a happy person. I had my own demons and my own things that I was fighting and trying to maneuver through.
How do societal influences shape one’s perception of their abilities? Can you give an example of overcoming such influences?
Your brain is a muscle. It takes energy to use it and to think outside of the box. It takes strength to hold your position on things, especially if the majority of the others involved disagree with you. Sometimes you have to defend it. It’s much easier to ‘go along’ with the group mentality. I caught myself doing that. It was like being in a current, drowning and being dragged through the bottom of the ocean. You don’t realize it but unconsciously you’re going along with the group and have no opinion. I felt a lack of self-worth. Breaking outside of all of that can be difficult. Yet it’s also powerful. It took a lot to get there, but nowadays I don’t worry so much about how others view me. I know who I am, and I know what makes me happy. I ask myself every day how I can be a better person and take responsibility for my imperfections.
What advice would you offer to those trying to break free from societal constraints based on their background?
Educate yourself on your background and others’ backgrounds. Again, travel is one of the best ways to do this. Make friends with different people in different cultures. You’ll find many are a lot like you with the same desires and goals and dreams—and they’re awesome! Think for yourself. Be interested in life and in others. You’ll start to realize that different cultures are fascinating and phenomenal. Find out what interests you and learn about it. It may not be easy at first. It’s become fashionable to spend hours focused on screens, and we sometimes have to force ourselves to stop, take a step back, read a book, go for a walk, and learn about something different.
What positive outcomes have you experienced from challenging limiting beliefs imposed by society? How has it affected your overall approach to life?
It forced me to find myself. I love my sneakers as much as the next guy, but they don’t define me. There was something missing and I had to make a conscious effort to figure out what it was. It was not something that could be filled by material things or places or people. It forced me to look at myself. There were things I wasn’t even aware of—perspectives that I had taken on that weren’t even mine. I found my own truth and it gave me more stability and happiness. I realized I love people, love to travel, and I don’t get rattled easily these days. My approach to life is completely different now. I try to be the person who is interested in others. We’re all on this giant rock trying to figure out how to make the best of it. I’m doing my best to do just that.