"Rush" star shares his success with Syracuse University students

Actor Rick Gonzalez spoke about the influence his upbringing has had on his acting career.

Smoothly making his way to the stage in a very laid-back T-shirt, jeans and navy blue and orange sneakers -- coincidentally showing school spirit -- the Latino TV star quickly opened up to the crowd.

“Acting has been able to shed light on some things that as a man I needed to grow up in,” Rick Gonzalez said. 

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists chapter at Syracuse University brought Gonzalez to campus Thursday to talk about Latinos in the entertainment industry. As an inner-city kid from Brooklyn, of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, Gonzalez spoke about his upbringing and how it helped him become the successful actor he is today.

As a product of a single parent household, Gonzalez spoke about the important role his mother has played in his life. “My mother made sure to provide me with a safe environment growing up," Gonzalez said. "Thanks to her support I decided to make that leap at 18 from Brooklyn to California to further pursue my dreams as an actor."

Known for playing roles such as Timo Cruz in Coach Carter, and his most recent role as Manny in the USA Network TV show Rush, Gonzalez touched upon his experience and the obstacles he faced as a Latino in the industry.  Gonzalez describes making the best out of his opportunities in the industry no matter what.

“I don’t look at the glass half empty. I always look at it half full,” he said.

Hollywood lacked a honestly-portrayed characters from the inner-city, Gonzalez said about his role in Coach Carter. “I wanted to make sure this character’s tone was honest to the struggles of a Latino man.”

With a strong sense of faith, Gonzalez described maintaining a positive attitude through life and always knowing that he would succeed.  

I focus on me and the light that I have to give. My God is my casting director,” Gonzalez said.

The multi-talented actor also touched on following his passion and jumping into the music industry as a solo artist back in 2011. Going under the rap name Realm Reality, Gonzalez released a new mixtape in May, titled “Between the Stars.”

Students got a surprise when Gonzalez announced he was going to perform a couple of songs from his mixtape to conclude his appearance at SU. Gonzalez asked students to gather around the stage while he performed in the intimate setting. After taking a couple of questions from the audience and performing, students lined up to take pictures with the humble performer.

“I really appreciated his view of the alternative sides of his roles. A lot of us don’t look at the positive sides of how people of color are portrayed in the media,” said Danielle Jimenez, a communication and rhetorical studies senior at Syracuse University.

Before the event, the Latino actor/rapper shared some of his future plans with The Newshouse. Gonzalez said he will continue to act on the hit show Rush for season two, which will be filmed in either Los Angeles or Vancouver, Canada. He also plans on releasing a new music project under the label Infamous Records, owned by Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy, this coming year. Gonzalez also plans to go on tour by the end of next year. 

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