Interview with Rico Torres of “Ballers” on HBO and “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” on Showtime by Suzanne 8/3/20
This was a fun interview. Rico has a lot of energy and enthusiasm, and we got along very well. I think he’ll have big success in the future. If he doesn’t, it sure won’t be for lack of trying.
Here is the audio version of it.
Suzanne: I’m sorry to hear that you were bullied in high school. I was bullied in elementary and junior high, so I know how you feel.
Rico: Yeah, it was junior high; it was middle school and high school. I mean, that is the toughest time for any kid. You think the world is going to end. You think it’s literally – like, yeah, it’s insane. Because now after, you know, you graduated, none of that matters. None of that matters, right? I went through this entire journey and I never, never told anybody. You know, I never told my parents; I never told my brothers. I remember coming home one day actually, I think this was like in eighth or ninth grade, my black eye, my face was just tore up. And I told my parents, you know, I ran into a door. I remember that so vividly. And I actually got beat up. And yeah, I mean, you know, my middle and high school, I was bullied, because I had asthma, because I had anorexia. And what made matters worse, was, I guess, I was born – I hate saying this, because I hate being cocky and stuff, but I’m not I’m not ugly. You know?
So, I guess a lot of girls were attracted to me, and that just made matters worse, because a lot of guys would get mad, so mad, because I had all these different things. You already know. One thing led to another, and it was just so awful. And for so many years, I fell into such a like depressive, anxious – it was for years years, and I kind of I guess I played video games to get my mind off of things. And I tell the story all the time. I remember only eating like one or two (meal tickets?) a day. And I guess I wasn’t even aware that I even had anorexia, because I was getting bullied. You know what I mean? (Unintelligible), my dad was never home, this and that, this thing will kill somebody. It’s going to make somebody commit suicide.
But it wasn’t until, you know, one day I remember, I literally just stared at myself in the mirror for like an hour. And I literally said – because after, you know, countless meetings with the doctor and I was like, “Yo, problem, man,” and I never took any of the medications, and then my mom would try to feed me more, but I said “no,” and I just simply wasn’t aware of it. When I’d stare at myself in the mirror, and I said, “Yo, problem,” that’s when everything changed. I’m like, I’ve been bullied, I keep denying the help from my parents, the doctors. That was the solution to everything, admitting to myself that I have a problem. And after that, I mean, then I reached out for help. I’m was like, “Mom, please send me anything,” whatever. And then my brother I get from the time I was working out, I’m like, “Please show me anything. I can’t I can’t keep this up.” And then one thing led to another, and then I gained confidence from working out, from eating, and the rest is history. I broke out of that. I broke out of that.
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s tough. And I think boys can be bullied a lot worse than girls. I mean, girls can be bullied for sure, and girls are mean and catty and all that, but the physical stuff i think is more of a boys thing. You know, it’s much worse.
Rico: Agreed. It’s horrible.
Suzanne: Yeah, I lucked out, because I went from sort of a ghetto school in middle school, or junior high, they called it back there, to a nice – I was in a foster home, so I got into a nice foster home in a really nice area where the kids didn’t do stuff like that. So, I was lucky. I was still a total geek, and they probably talked about me behind my back, but nobody punched me or beat me up or anything, but I know how you feel, up to a certain extent, obviously. But you turned your life around. That’s good that you were able to do that. It was good that you were able to turn your life around like that.
Rico: Oh, yeah. Oh, man, to be honest with you, as we’re talking about all this, and as I, you know, sit here and think about everything that’s happened in my life, I don’t regret anything. I sit here and I’m smiling; I’m telling you I’m not even lying, because all that really shaped me to who I am today. I mean, I don’t know if you read it, but I went to school, I went to college for pre med. I was following this doctor route kind of like for years and years and years. And I crossed off all these items off the checklist, you know, like (unintelligible), medical missions trips, shadowing doctors, this and that, and I mean, next thing you know, I don’t know, like senior year of college, I just know I broke out again, just continuously breaking out of like this paradigm that we’re all raised to believe in. And because, for years, I followed that, and then I guess I got into modeling, because I’m like, I can make money off of this; everybody always told me.
I got into that, you know, and one thing led to another. A modeling agent, I guess, who was also part talent agent, got me an audition. I’m like, “What is that?” And I went to it, and I did awful. But then I guess I got a callback and I’m like, “What is that?” I’m like, I’ve got take this seriously. They gave me the numbers. They’re like, “If you get this, this is a lead role for a feature film. If you get this, you know, you get $900 a day for 15 days,” and I’m like, “That’s $15,000 in two weeks? That’s crazy.” Yeah.
So, then I actually tried really hard. I got into the room with two producers. And, I mean, long story short, I didn’t get it, but, I mean, for the Cruises (?) to literally say, “I love your style,” that’s crazy. And they kind of opened my eyes to the whole new world. And I’m like, medicine, I don’t even like it. I was going with traditional medicine, and I’m into holistics. I hate the whole traditional medicine, because the pharmaceutical industry is killing the entire world. I mean, the US, because that’s the most profitable industry in the US. So, I mean, I was just following, I don’t know, it’s crazy. I don’t know how to explain it.
Suzanne: No, it makes sense. It totally makes sense now, how you went from being wanting to be a doctor to be an actor. At first, I thought, how did that happen? But no, the way you explained it makes perfect sense. You didn’t really have your heart in the doctor thing, and then you started the modeling, and then that led to the acting, and now that makes a lot of sense.
Rico: And then the app thing led to just like, entrepreneurial ventures. And then next thing, you know, my book is being published September 1st, because I actually love writing. Who would have thought? Like if I’d never broke out of that, you know, pre med just doctor doctor doctor doctor, I’d have never found out what I actually truly like to do and what I’m actually truly talented talented in. Oh, that’s crazy.
Suzanne: Well, I didn’t know that you can write. What was the book that you wrote?
Rico: Oh yeah, it’s about “Know your norms.” So, basically, I mean, it just talks about social norms. It talks about it from from the moment you’re born, to the moment you kind of die. So, it’s like all that in between, and it starts from the very beginning. I incorporate some of my personal life experiences in there, because I believe that storytelling changes the world. So, I incorporate some of my own stories, you know, the anorexia – I was I was born into the color blue, because I’m a boy. Like, girls are born to the color pink. Girls are given toys; boys are given guns and cars. You know what I mean? Since are born, we are being tricked. And it’s that paradigm that I’m talking about. We’re being tricked into just following these rules made by society. And that’s why like 1% of the world are quote, unquote, aware of all of this and like 99% aren’t, and they simply just follow that entire, you know, playbook that’s given them for their entire life, and they don’t realize or find out about, you know, anything else in the world. So, I mean, I’m so excited about this book that I made. It truly came from the heart. I love it. I was like, this is crazy. Hopefully, it opens up so many other people’s eyes and minds like it did to me. I mean, I just try to make people aware.
Suzanne: Can we buy that on Amazon? Is it on there?
Rico: Absolutely. We publish a lot of places. Because this is my first book. I’m so publishing everywhere. Hopefully, you know, my second or third book, which I’m actually already working on my second book, hopefully, you know, when my second or third book, I actually, you know, get a literary agent and the traditional publishing and etc, etc. I’m used to the whole game. So, I was looking at it like, oh –
Suzanne: Well, it sounds it sounds really good. You know, I agree with what you’re saying, because, obviously, we all know, to a certain extent, that the whole thing about school is not just there to inform you, it’s there to mold you to be a good citizen. And your parents try to do the same thing. But one thing I’ve always thought is that people don’t plan their lives they do like you said, whatever their parents tell them, the schools tell them, and we’re all told, you must get a good job. You must go to college, you must get married, you must have kids, all that stuff, and few people question it. And then, if something terrible happens, like a divorce, they’re completely thrown, because they never considered it. And we put all this thought and money into the wedding, but nobody really talks about the marriage or whether you should have kids and all that stuff. So yeah, I totally see what you’re saying. I’ve always thought that.
Rico: And then like exactly what you’re saying, then if you go even more in depth, it’s literally just years and years and years of your life just wasted, just trying to follow your parents’ expectations or society’s expectations. And then you’re trapped, and then you become unhappy and it’s like no, do what you love, and that’s it.
Suzanne: And it causes things like anorexia, with society always telling us we have to be skinny to be beautiful.
Rico: Oh, yeah. There’s so many. Oh, and I feel so strongly about mental health, especially because of social media. I hate it. Oh, man. Oh, man, living here in LA. I’ve only lived here like, a little under two years. I’ve already been exposed to all of the type of people that are just crazy about their image. And I’m like, “What are you doing.” And then what they do when they post all this other stuff on Instagram and whatnot, they’re just, you know, the average person or the average Joe, the normal person who really doesn’t get exposed to all this you know, in LA or Hollywood, Atlanta (?) or whatnot. They see that and then they believe that to be true; they believe that that’s what you need to be successful. They believe that you need to look a certain way. And they just use square[screw?] everybodys lined up, man.
Suzanne: Right. That’s true. Yeah, my sister-in-law and her husband are from LA and they lived there a while, and it was all about you have to you have to put up – and she wasn’t even an actress for very long. But you have to put on this show for people you have to always look perfect, and you have to be seen, and I was like, “What?” I thought it was crazy. So, I know what you’re saying. And then everybody there is just pressured to do that, and, you know, it’s crazy.
Rico: Yeah, and while I’m still, you know, honestly, why I’m still here and why I’m still, you know, striving to do all these things in TV and film, and I guess, in the realm of Hollywood is because well, first of all, I needed a break. Somebody in your family has to break out. Somebody has to break out of that, you know, generational norm because, you know, you need to build that generational wealth and my entire family’s core, and core as in financially and core, you know, inside…I was going to say, it’s kind of like how Tupac’s dead – you know who Tupac is, right? Tupac Shakur. Yeah, I don’t know, I just love his message. I love everything that he’s ever – aside from that whole gang stuff, gang related stuff, I don’t approve of that. But like, I love hearing people’s misfortunes, but to have Tupac, and how he broke out of that, and how he’s so intellectual and he just wanted to inspire and spark someone’s brain to kind of do exactly, not exactly the same, but, you get what I’m saying right? I can’t explain it right.
Suzanne: Yeah. No, it’s all right; I understand. So, were you in drama at all in high school or you didn’t do anything like that?
Rico: Absolutely not. That’s why I love it, there is no there are no rules. I’m not big. I’m not an A-List or anything like that, but in under two years, I’ve already been, you know, featured in some of these big productions. I may not have had a leading role or anything like that, but I still landed something in these huge productions. And I’m still getting massive auditions, getting all this recognition and stuff. I’ve never taken an acting class in my life. So, like people go through all this schooling and stuff, and all I mean, there are no rules. You set your own rules.
Suzanne: Well, I wasn’t thinking so much training. It’s just it’s a lot of fun in high school. I did drama in high school.
Rico: Yeah, I’ve heard I’ve heard Yeah, yeah, I missed out on that. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun.
Suzanne: It is a lot of fun.
Rico: Like the improv side of stuff, yeah, I would have loved to do all that.
Suzanne: So, you’ve never done any stage plays or anything like that, just TV and movies?
Suzanne: Oh, cool. Well, you might one day, right? You might do a play or something.
Rico: Anything is possible; I might do everything. Absolutely. I’m actually taking vocal classes. So, I’m bilingual; I’m Colombian, and I really like Latin music. So, I’m trying to get into that.
Rico: Not into the industry; I hate the industry. Well, like you said, for fun.
Suzanne: For fun, yeah, right. And, you know, since you’re smart and you like to write, you might, who knows, you might write a play one day or a screenplay.
Rico: Oh, I already wrote one.
Suzanne: Oh, good. I figured, right?
Rico: I wrote a screenplay for a trilogy. I don’t know how to get that to distribution. I don’t know how to get that to the right eyes. I don’t know anything. I’m kind of like learning as I go. But yeah, it was amazing. I would love to see that actually come to fruition. Kind of like “Rocky,” kind of like Sylvester Stallone, how he wrote “Rocky,” that’s kind of like what I’m trying to do with my screenplay.
Suzanne: Cool. So what would you say is your biggest role so far?
Rico: I would say the one from “Ballers,” but I just –
Suzanne: Sorry, is that a tough question?
Rico: Yeah, it is, because it was such a small role. So it’s like, ah, it sucks.
Suzanne: That’s all right. That’s okay. That’s fine. That’s an honest answer.
Rico: I mean, I‘ve only been at this for a year and a half. I want a lot more than just, you know, two or three scenes.
Suzanne: Yeah, well, you just gotta give it time. You’ll you’ll get there. It’s good that you’re proud of what you’ve done so far. That’s good. I think a lot of people fail because of lack of confidence, so that’s good.
Rico: Yeah, exactly. I’m not afraid to take on you know, under five roles. I’m not even afraid to be an extra. I did that, you know, all first coming out here. I did extra, extra, extra, extra extra. A lot of people don’t care about that, but like, no, I mean, Tiffani Haddish was an extra. I mean, Sylvester Stallone was an extra. I mean, they did a lot of extra stuff.
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s how they get started.
The IMDb says that you’re in a film called “LA Rush.” Do you know when when that’ll come out?
Rico: Who knows. I did that in the very beginning. It’s already been like a year and a half, two years. I don’t know why that’s still in production.
Suzanne: Well, maybe the pandemic affected it.
Rico: This Covid, man, it takes me so many of my projects that I’m hopefully going to be in.
Suzanne: Yeah, we’re all in the same boat on that, I think, especially people who have projects going in Hollywood.
Do you have anything else that you were working on before the pandemic hit, like shows or auditions or whatever?
Rico: Oh, a bunch of them. I had like, three or four and then like a bunch of auditions and stuff, but everything is just being delayed. I mean, series, pilots, like this and that. I don’t know if they don’t even want me anymore. It’s crazy. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I understand; I understand.
Suzanne: Ask your agent about the soap operas, because they’re all going back in production now. They’re they started before any of the other shows.
Rico: Soap Operas?
Suzanne: Yeah, daytime soaps.
Rico: My agent sucks. I don’t ever go out for anything in Spanish. I’m kidding. I’m learning; I’m going. I’ve been through, in a matter of a year and a half, I’ve been through like three managers, three agents, this and that. And it’s like, and it’s not because of me. It’s not because of me because, you know, I’m just trying to get work. I’m like, “Hey, you know, anything that you need, let me know. I’ll go on five auditions every single day. Let’s go.” You know what I mean?
Some of them don’t get back to me. And I’m like, come on. Like, really? I’m just trying to work. I’m trying to make you money.
Suzanne: Yeah. I don’t know how some people get their jobs.
Rico: So, I mean, yeah, I’m just taking it slow. You know, something will come up. I mean, with that, with commercials, with modeling, I have so many things, so many routes, so many seeds planted. It’s like, one of them’s going to blow up, you know?
Suzanne: So, what have you been working on for the past four months besides writing? Anything else? I’m sure you must.
Rico: Yeah, I love to write. I have a couple businesses. I’m developing an app, but that’s going to take some time.
I’m in the process of creating actually a men’s cosmetics line. Again, that’s going to take several months so, what else? Yeah, I’d have to look at all my stuff, but a lot of stuff. I mean, everything is especially like, pending, like how can I even talk about it.
Suzanne: What we’ve been doing just to relax or have fun?
Rico: I just work every day. No, I go to the gym every day, take my mind off of things. I meditate, you know, 30 minutes before I go to sleep and 30 minutes after I wake up, to keep my mind sane from all this stuff, especially because I came out here alone. I left everybody and everything over there in Florida. So, I’ve been at this alone, and sometimes it gets to me, and then especially when you’re single. I just feel like everybody here has the worst intentions possible, and it kind of messes with you mentally. I keep myself sane by working out, and – oOh sorry go ahead.
Suzanne: I was just going to say, you got therapy before to help you with the depression, anxiety and anorexia, did they also teach you how to eat right and all that kind of thing?
Rico: I did not follow. I’ve always had a problem of following directions in order. I don’t know why, I mean, I don’t want to some stubborn, but I just learned things on my own. I mean, asked for help, but on my own terms. I don’t know. It’s so weird. It’s so weird, do I sound bad saying all this?
Suzanne: No, no, no. You have your opinions and you have confidence. That’s good.
Rico: Yeah. So, I mean, for example, like, you know, like doctors were telling me this. I mean, it’s because I’ve been diagnosed incorrectly. And then I hear stories of other people being diagnosed incorrectly and given wrong medications, and this, this, and that, and how corrupt everything and everyone is. And it’s like, oh my God, so, I do my own research. But the doctor tells me I have this, this, and that, and then I started doing my own research. I started looking at peer reviewed articles, I start looking at studies, I [would] actually go get the exams, expensive exams, to make sure if what they’re saying is true, and more than likely, it’s not. I mean, I’ve been through – I was (unintelligible) accident, you know, in 2015, and I had to have jaw surgery. Yeah, my whole mouth split open. He was just, I mean, I don’t even know how my life today. But yeah, I actually had jaw surgery. And my surgeon, I mean, he did a great job. You know, he put it back together, but he put it back together incorrectly. What else can go wrong? Right?
I mean, I just find this out what, three, four years later, and I have not stopped looking at myself in the mirror, you know, every single day, every single morning I look at myself and I see the bottom jaw is just all crooked. And I mean, yeah, I’m a confident human being, but it’s like, I look at that every day, you know, and then I have problems with my nose, and it’s because of that. So, I mean, I have to go to a doctor, like many, many, many doctors, and try to figure out what the heck is wrong with me. You know, if it’s neurological or if there’s a nerve damage. And what about my jaw? You know, because it’s diameters off, and how do I correct that with all surgery, because surgery will just ruin you even more. Sorry, I’m ranting.
Suzanne: No, no, it’s fine.
Rico: I don’t even know what the point of me saying that was.
Suzanne: Well, you know, you made me forget now what I asked you, but that’s okay.
Do you have any advice for kids who are bullied or for kids who want to become actors?
Rico: So for the bully ones, you got to ask for help. I mean, if you’re being bullied, my advice would be to actually just sit down. I feel like people, kids, get away from your parents for a little bit, or your friends or whatever, just be alone for a little bit and actually just think about stuff, just think about what you’re doing, who you are, what’s happening around you, the bullying and all that. Because people are always with somebody, always with parents, so there’s always an opinion. There’s always a “I’m so scared to tell them I’m being bullied or whatnot.” But when you go by yourself – I’ve been by myself a lot. That’s how I’m aware of so many things. When you’re by yourself you think; you get into your thoughts a lot. The problem with that is you can’t be by yourself for too long, because that’s when you go crazy, right? That’s when somebody who’s not, you know, strong willed, strong minded, they’ll fall into a very bad, very bad state of mind. But take a week or two weeks or whatever, and actually just be by yourself. Go to the library by yourself and just think about what’s going on, and then and then admit it. You know, a lot of people don’t admit it. That’s the problem with America. You know, a lot of parents. They say to their kids, “You’re not fat; you’re big boned.” No, you’re fat. I’m sorry. I like the tough love. No, it’s true. Because that kid, their entire childhood is going to just go through their life thinking they’re just big boned. Right? And if they admit to themselves that they’re fat or overweight, that they’re obese, then you can do something about it, the first step in anything and any solution is admitting. Become aware that there’s a problem. Make or work towards finding a solution. But, yeah, to that I say, take some time to be alone, away from everybody and everything in all of society’s pressures and restrictions, and this, this, and that.
And then for the acting thing, I would never recommend a child to do this. It’s crazy. And I say that, because at least my children aren’t going to do it. I mean, at least until they’re 18, then they can do whatever they want. You know what I mean? Because, I mean, there’s a bunch of child actors that become – yeah. And the reason for that, I believe at least, is because they don’t go through, you know, a normal life. So, at like 12 or 14 or whatever, when they instantly become famous, when they instantly get access to all this money, they can get whatever they want. When they instantly get all this fame, you’re in the public eye. You can’t do anything, you know what I mean? You can’t do anything, and then like you’re out; you’re just trying to play basketball, right? And you know, you have all these pop rocks in here, whatnot. And you’re like, I can’t even have fun. So, you don’t even get the opportunity to live your life.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think it really depends on the parents they have, how normal they are, and also, the kid itself, you know, how they view what they’re doing? Yeah. Because I know some actors, they started age five, and then they go on to have a successful career, and they’re normal, but they probably had normal parents. I mean, by normal, you know, the parents supported them and let them make the decision about whether they wanted to do it and that kind of stuff. But the ones who have stage moms or whatever, it’s not so good.
Rico: Yeah, and that’s the thing though. If you’re a successful actor, celebrity, whatever, you have kids.
I mean, honestly, it all falls on the parents, because if you think we’re all right, and it’s kind of like what we were saying earlier, teach them. Teach them that a lot of the things in Hollywood are just fake. Teach them that a lot of that stuff does not matter. It’s meaningless. It’s just, a way of creating art, but then a lot of the things that follow that are just a lot of fakeness and this, this and that. And then, you know, if you teach them a certain way, and the reality, then you kind of teach them the normality and the enjoyment of life, of the little things. And teach them it’s about nature and trees and this isn’t that. I mean, I know that’s kind of like weird I even just – like, what are you talking about? But it will all make sense for the kid.
Suzanne: Yeah, they have to have a normal childhood, whether they’re acting or not.
Rico: Exactly. But, I mean, yeah, if somebody wanted to follow the acting route or whatever at whatever age, my advice is to not listen to anybody. Because I’ve only been at this a year and a half, or two years, and before my career even started – you know how I told you I was with like three managers, or three agents or whatever, how many times each and every single one of them have told me, “I’m going to end your career before it even starts. You don’t know how small the town is. You’re never going to get a job ever again.” I’m like, “Okay, wow, thanks for being so nice. I hope you have a better day.” I mean, no wonder. If you have a weak mind, you’re going to get destroyed in this industry. You’re going to get eaten alive. It’s crazy how all these people threaten you.
Suzanne: That’s sad. Well, I’m glad you were able to get past that and rise above those people.
Rico: Yeah, I’m still getting through it. There’re still millions of rejections and millions of people trying to threaten me. Whatever.
Suzanne: Yeah, no I understand. well I hope I hope that you can get into some – the I know a lot of the auditions now are through self tapes. So, hopefully you can do some of that. That would be good, instead of having to wait for the pandemic to be over.
Rico: Yeah, yep.
Suzanne: Yeah, well, I think the whole industry is waiting to see – whether they know it or not, they’re waiting to see what happens with the daytime soaps, because they’re the first ones to start back, and they’re utilizing all these different ways, between camera tricks, ways to be safe, and all those different things. So, if they can do it, then the rest of, you know, TV and movies can follow, hopefully.
Rico: Yeah. I’m so excited to get back to work. It’s so much fun creating art.
Suzanne: Well, I really appreciate you talking to me.
Rico: Oh, absolutely. I appreciate you talking to me.
Suzanne: And thanks for checking out my website. And we’re moving our site to TVMEG.COM, and we’ve already moved a lot over there. So, check it out. That’s where your interview will be.
Rico: Oh, cool, yeah, absolutely.
Suzanne: Great. Thank you.
Rico: Thank you so much. Have a great day.
Suzanne: You, too. Bye.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Young Hollywood’s newest Latin-American heartthrob Rico Torres, recognized for his latest roles on Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” and HBO’s “Ballers,” in addition to countless international fashion campaigns. From a shy teen diagnosed with anorexia to becoming a hotly-tipped face to watch in Hollywood, Rico hopes to share his remarkable story to inspire other young people to reach for their dreams.
The Columbian actor was born in Florida after his parents immigrated to America while his mother was still pregnant with him. He graduated pre-med from Columbia University, but instead of attending medical school he sacrificed and risked everything to follow his dreams and moved to Los Angeles from Tampa with only $500 in his pocket to pursue Hollywood greatness. After only a year and a half of putting in sweat and tears in L.A., Rico is available to share his remarkable story of chasing and fulfilling his American dream.
When Rico isn’t in front of the camera, he enjoys staying fit and eating healthy. However, at a young age Rico suffered from anorexia. This caused him to be severely bullied as a teenager which led to anxiety and depression. Rico’s parents also divorced while he was in high school, and he lived with his mother who was working two full-time entry jobs to make ends meet. Rico then took on the of working and taking care of his family. All his past experiences (good or bad) have caused him to have a very special outlook on life and he takes nothing for granted. Rico sees them as beautiful and inspiring moments in his life that have shaped him into who he is today.
With over 100k followers on Instagram along with soon to be announced acting projects on the horizon, we would love to arrange an interview with you and Rico to discuss his meteoric Hollywood rise, fitness & nutrition tips, and inspiring story to teens and young people everywhere.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda