Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Ray Tezanos (he/him)
Current Location: Los Angeles, Ca
Ray, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Even though I wasn't a theater kid per se, I always wanted to be an actor as early as I could remember. I have an early memory, maybe 5 or 6, of lying to friends that I was going to be in upcoming movies, and dreaming one day about being on the big screen. Growing up I was pretty much an only child. My older sister is ten years older than me and treated me more like her son than a brother. I was told that I liked to annoy her by singing Michael Jackson's music, trying to emulate his moves around the house. My family stirred my love for the theatre by taking me on annual winter trips to New York City where we enjoyed the cold weather, and Broadway. I was just enamored. In my heart, I wanted to be on the stage, but I didn’t know how to express it. Nor did my parents have the wherewithal to bring it out. My father is an accountant and my mother a bookkeeper. I first began to express my passion for performance in a choir with our local church in Miami, Florida. I loved performing at mass and in our local shows, but in 6th grade all of that shifted. I transferred to an all boy, predominantly Cuban/Hispanic Jesuit preparatory school called Belen Jesuit. The most uncool thing available at the school was choir and I stayed away for fear of being bullied. At Belen, I evolved into an athlete and pretty much let my emotional life deteriorate behind my desire to be the coolest kid in school. Luckily around 9th grade I was pulled in by the punk rockers at my school, pretty much the misfits, the artists, and theatre kids. And with their love, I found my way back to the arts and joined a punk band as a lead guitarist. I also landed my first role in the theater in a one act play called The Mystery of Twicknam Vicarage, by David Ives. It was so much fun, and I loved every second of it. Sadly, by the time of that discovery, I had to decide between theatre and swimming because of conflicting rehearsal and practice times. I was already too good of an athlete to give up swimming, nationally ranked at 14, and I hoped my skills would help me get into the college of my choice, and boy did it. I was accepted to Georgetown University as a varsity swimmer. Hindsight, I don’t know if Georgetown was the right fit for me. It was an amazing school but didn’t exactly kick down the doors to Hollywood. I am grateful for my experience there and all the amazing people I met. At university, I was given the space to attempt to answer the question of “who am I?” “What do I want to do with my life?” “How am I going to be of best use while I’m here on earth?” Amazingly, after swimming practice, I was able to jump into rehearsal on campus and could finally be an active part of the theatre community. I was in a play every semester of my final three years at Georgetown. While it was challenging as heck to manage school, sport, and art, it provided me the strength to get to this moment which oddly feels much like it did ten years ago back at school. I’m now a personal trainer by day and a theater performer in the evenings. I’m pretty much living my dream, and I’m so grateful to the journey.
The life of an Artist can be a hard one. Can you tell us what you think are the biggest barrier(s) or challenges to you being an artist, and how you've worked or are working to overcome them?
Feeling worthy when I’m not “working,” is really hard for me. I love being part of a community. Being in a show and connected to people is my happy place, and conversely not being in a show or tied to a project feels like I’m in no man’s land. For me to overcome those feelings of insecurity, I need to limit social media time and self judgement. I’ve got a gratitude practice where I write down 5 things I’m grateful for every morning and evening to help me remember the good stuff. I also need to do things that I love. So I’ve found, self-care for me looks like playing lots of video games and taking a soccer class in between projects.
What piece of advice would you share with the next generation of Artists?
Advice that I have gotten and I’m still working on embodying from my inspiring friend Rob Yang (Succession on HBOMax), “You’ve got to be all of yourself. That’s the shortcut.” Now, I’ve just got to figure out how to do that consistently.
Can you share with us what your creative process looks like?
My creative process is all about having fun. I’m finding myself playing more video games than ever with the intention of feeling like a little kid. I also just started playing soccer this year and I’m calling it my favorite acting class ever. I’m running after a ball feeling like a little boy. It rocks. Shout out to Evolve Soccer in East LA!
Creating a community can be beneficial as an Artist. Do you have a network of other artists you rely on? In what ways do you support each other?
My network of artists is built up of amazing friends and inspiring artists. I have a few different cliques that make up my artist network spawning from friends from acting classes, the Larry Moss community, shows that I’ve been in, and various artists I’ve met on these wild streets of LA. We support each other by sticking it out, believing in each other, and shouting each other out online. Social media can be so toxic for me, but it’s amazing when I can see friends on shows, or I get a shout out from friends.
Who has influenced you the most on your journey as an Artist? Where do you draw inspiration from when creating Art?
I love books and am constantly reading or listening to an audio book. Right now my sources of inspiration are Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love,” Larry Moss’s “The Intent to Live,” and Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.”
How do you seek out new opportunities to create?
I love the opportunities my representatives create but I also take responsibility in getting new work. If I’m not tied to a project, I look on Actors Access for projects to audition for. I’m open to any medium, and I’m always looking for something to challenge me. I also write and produce when I’m feeling the itch or I'm inspired to take creative control. Lastly, I find new opportunities through referrals. Shout out to JC Calciano for introducing me to Jeffery John. Waiting in the Wings has been a dream come true.
What do you consider to be your greatest, professional or personal, achievement?
I’m split. Waiting in the Wings has been the most fulfilling project thus far. I’m freaking dancing and singing on a stage with a beautiful message. I just love musical theatre! Refugio was a project I co-wrote and produced. It was a very personal story that we have yet to release but I love it and I can’t wait for the world to experience it.
What are your hopes, either personal or overall, for the future of the Arts & Entertainment industry?
My hopes for the future are that more partnership and mentorship opportunities appear for young and fresh artists. My experience navigating the industry during my first years in Los Angeles felt very lonely. It wasn’t until I found mentorship that I was able to feel safe and welcome to be my weird self in this wild industry. I hope we can create avenues to get hopeful creatives under the wings of artists that have navigated the waters with the intention of setting up the next generation.
Instagram : @raytezanos