DA MAN Exclusive Interview with Kevin Alejandro

Kevin Alejandro, famous for his role as Jesus Velasquez on hit TV show True Blood, where he played a ‘brujo’ (witch) until the end of the fourth season, is also a hot fashionisto, as DA MAN finds out.

Jacket by Emporio Armani, shirt by Levi’s

You know him as the guy who played the male nurse/witch (brujo) Jesus Velasquez in True Blood through Season 4. You’ve also seen him in roles as a police detective in Southland, a gay hustler in Big Love, a principled D.A. in Shark, a federal agent in the film Red State, a low-rider guy in the recent film alongside Ryan Gosling, Drive, and a gangster in Ugly Betty.

Sweater by Etro, hat by Comme des Garçons, scarf and trousers by John Varvatos, ring by Sirciam Jewelry

If nothing else, Texas-born actor Kevin Alejandro is a versatile guy with a big upside. With nearly a decade of showbiz experience, the fruits of his labors, largely as a guest star, are starting to pay dividends. During Seasons 3 and 4 of the hugely popular True Blood, he was a series regular, and earlier in 2011 he was featured in two major motion pictures, the aforementioned Drive and Red State.

 

Shirt by Etro, necklace Kevin’s own

DA MAN: Can you tell us a bit about the latest on True Blood and how you came to be on the show?
Kevin Alejandro:
True Blood has been an amazing journey. I’ve had an incredible time working with everyone. The process for getting on this show was very involved with audition after audition. Finally, it was narrowed down to about six guys and a chemistry-read with Nelsan [Ellis]. In the end, I scored the role and have been part of it ever since.

DA MAN: You were introduced in Season 3. Did you watch the series before then?
Kevin Alejandro: It was great receiving the word that I had an audition for True Blood. My wife and I were both ecstatic about the possibility of being on the show. It was absolutely one of our favorite shows! You can imagine how happy we were when we found out I actually got the role.

DA MAN: What can you tell us about your role as Jesus Velasquez, the male nurse on the show, and your approach to playing it?
Kevin Alejandro: The fact that Jesus was a witch was fascinating to me. I was able to do quite a bit of research on witchcraft. I wanted to understand the differences between white and black magic. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure which direction they were taking with the role of Jesus, so I thought it best to understand the differences between both practices.

DA MAN: Who has the most talent of the whole True Blood cast? And be honest, no diplomacy allowed on this one.
Kevin Alejandro: Ah man! You’re putting me on the spot. But, I gotta say, Alan Ball is pretty damned talented for casting all of us! There are so many great actors on this show.

DA MAN: What is it like working with award-winning creator of True Blood, Alan Ball?
Kevin Alejandro: Alan is by far one of the smartest guys I’ve had the pleasure of being around. This also makes him a little intimidating. After you get to know him though, you’ll find that he is a very kind, funny, honest gentleman. I thank him for letting me be a part of his creation.

Blazer, leather pants and sweater by Diesel

DA MAN: Outside of the True Blood cast, who is the most talented showbiz personality you’ve ever worked with and why?
Kevin Alejandro: I have had a very fortunate career, and have had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing people. Kevin Smith, John Goodman, John Wells, Alan Ball, James Woods, Kevin Pollack, Sean Bean and Nelsan Ellis are only a few. Each of those guys has inspired me to be better at everything I do.

DA MAN: Your character on Southland was murdered midway through Season 3 (in January 2011), so is that finished for you or are there some flashback scenes?
Kevin Alejandro: With a show like Southland, I don’t think they’re planning on using many ‘flashback’ scenes. However, going out that way had a huge impact on the Southland audience. I was very touched by the overwhelming response. I actually received messages from genuine police officers thanking me and everyone involved with Southland for doing such a great job in keeping Southland as close to real as possible. Being part of this show is another one of my most valued experiences.

DA MAN: So you’re now a nurse in True Blood, and were a police detective in Southland, a gay hustler in Big Love, a principled DA in Shark, a low-rider dude in Drive and a gangster in Ugly Betty. Is it difficult to switch between such wildly different characters?
Kevin Alejandro: It is a challenge to play such different characters. This is one of the reasons I like doing what I do. I enjoy disappearing inside each of them, keeping only small traces of myself. I Also really enjoy the competition of getting the role. I love it, actually.

DA MAN: What future projects do you have planned?
Kevin Alejandro: I have a TNT [a U.S. television network], ‘movie of the week’ premiering December 6, 2011 [entitled Hide]. I’m starring opposite the beautiful and talented Carla Gugino. We are both detectives tracking a serial killer. It is very well done. I hope everyone enjoys it.

DA MAN: Out of all the TV shows and films that you’ve been in, which do you think affected you the most as an actor and as a person?
Kevin Alejandro: I think every role I’ve played had a little to do with the next. It’s like a trickle effect, you know? I always put a part of myself in every character, so it becomes pretty personal to me.

DA MAN: What kind of role would you say is the most ideal and most comfortable for you?
Kevin Alejandro: I’ll tell you which role I really want to play: Macbeth!

DA MAN: Let’s talk a little bit about your earlier days. When did you realize that you were meant to be an actor?
Kevin Alejandro: I realized I wanted to be an actor when I was in high school … and here we are now.

DA MAN: You spent four years studying theater arts at the University of Texas. How significant were those two years to you and your acting career?
Kevin Alejandro: Those were some of best times of my life. I went through the last BFA [Bachelor of Fine Arts] program the department offered. It sort of became my own personal conservatory working with great actors and amazing professors. We had a very strong class. I think more than half of the ones who decided to make this a career are doing very well.

DA MAN: Have you ever thought about getting back into drama/theater?
Kevin Alejandro: Absolutely! I love theater. I want to be on Broadway … another huge dream of mine. I can’t wait!

DA MAN: In the past you’ve worked with some phenomenal talents, was that ever intimidating? How about in your show Shark alongside the brilliant and always intense James Woods?
Kevin Alejandro: Yeah, when I had my first scene with Jimmy, I was very intimidated. I mean, he’s James Freakin’ Woods! After a while though, we became friends. He’s a good man, and he’s one of the greats! I would love to work with him again. I learned a lot by watching him do his thing.

DA MAN: Who is your inspiration as an actor as well as a professional?
Kevin Alejandro: One of my biggest inspirations in life, is my high school theater teacher, Jerry Worsham. He inspired be to be greater than I ever thought possible. He showed me there was life outside of our small town. He let me know it was possible for a poor kid to go to college, and that it was not only OK, but necessary to Dream Big. If he were still living, I think he would be proud at what I’ve been able to accomplish so far … Thank You, Jerry Worsham.

DA MAN: What do you do to unwind?
Kevin Alejandro: There is no unwinding when you have a three year old. Ha! Seriously though, I spend a lot time with my family. It’s a great feeling. When we’re together, nothing else exists. We unwind each other, I guess. I also surf in the morning. This is ‘my’ time. It’s kind of like therapy, I suppose. When I can’t or don’t surf for a while, I start to feel a little edgy and grumpy, so it has definitely become a necessity for me. This is another thing that I love … It’s amazing to be in the water and for just that long, learn to read and almost communicate with something much bigger than you. The feeling of gliding down the face of a wave, big or small, is, well… I can’t put it into words, you just have to feel it for yourself.

DA MAN: When did you feel at the lowest ebb in your quest to become a professional actor?
Kevin Alejandro: I think my first year [in L.A.] proved to be one of the hardest. I moved [to L.A.] with my best friend Stephen Monroe Taylor. Neither of us knew anyone, or anything about this business. Hell, neither of us had ever even been to California for that matter. We landed ourselves in Canoga Park, saw some palm trees, and thought, ‘This Is California, baby!’ Cut to: us sitting in a tent huddled up with over a hundred background actors freezing our asses off. Yes, we were Background Artists—for a long time! It was a challenge knowing that we had come from some of the best training you can get and we couldn’t figure out how to get a role in this business. It was a depressing time for us. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with extra work. We actually recommend it. When we did extra work, we were able to treat it like class, so to speak. We paid attention to the way a production day on set was run. This way, when we got our first job, we’d know what the hell they were talking about.

DA MAN: If you hadn’t made it as an actor, what would you be doing now?
Kevin Alejandro: I would still be trying to make it as an actor. There is no other alternative. I love it, man!

DA MAN: What are your dreams for your career?
Kevin Alejandro: To never stop working. I want to continue to be a part of great projects, and also to create my own.

DA MAN: If time and money were no issue, where would go on holiday?
Kevin Alejandro: My wife and I have never been to Paris. It is one of our dreams to share a kiss on the Eiffel Tower.

DA MAN: What things irk you in life and in showbiz?
Kevin Alejandro: People who don’t appreciate what they have, and people who step on others to get ahead! It makes no sense to me.

DA MAN: Are you into fashion? If so, what do you like?
Kevin Alejandro: I do like fashion, but I don’t know much about labels or designers. All I know is, if it looks good, sleek and like you put some effort into it, I’m probably going to like it. DA

 

Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack

Styling: Joshua Seth

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