Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Causing A Lather

Although his dream was to play soccer, Hispanic soap star Pablo Azar, raised in a small town in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, studied acting because his mother thought it would be a good way to make friends.

He took folklore dance and acting classes to hone his skills. By age 16, the family had moved back to Mexico City where he was born, and he continued his mission with photo shoots, modeling and attending casting calls. One day he saw a sign for TV As teca, a Mexican multimedia conglomerate, that said “bring a headshot.” the chance for exposure. “I did an audition, was one of 15 picked out of 2,000 to attend a school, and a career was born,” says the handsome, green-eyed Azar, 35. “I got into He took folklore dance and acting classes to hone his skills. By age 16, the family He jumped at – the character creation process and fell in love with acting by doing novelas.”

Now living mainly in Miami (and back and forth between Mexico City), where he acts, paints, drives for Uber (really) and lobbies for better acting conditions, Azar got his frst whiff of South Florida in 2005 when he was sent to Miami to shoot Second Chance, a novela for Telemundo, the Spanish-language network owned by NBC Universal. In it, Azar played a cocky, energetic character who captured the attention of audiences around the world. “I was cast as a silly guy who fell in love with too many ladies,” he laughs. “It was a huge success here and internationally in 100 countries. I got lots of work doing novelas and other projects for Telemundo after the success of that novela.” He also won three Best New Actor awards in Latin America for this role and was able to promote the soap around the world, which broadened his reach.

Azar did another project in Colombia, then three years ago was cast in his frst English-language show, a TV series for TBS called Wrecked, playing Pablo the fghter. “My character was a starving guy who fought for food,” recalls Azar. From there, the actor did another telenovela for Telemundo called Le Sand, and now he is doing short flms for his own company called PAYPA Production.

When he’s not acting, Azar enjoys a second career as an artist. He paints from a Wynwood studio located not far from his Miami digs. He is known as a pop realist who invented a unique, fantasy-journey painting style that he calls “Toonymania.” He has reinvented the visual arts mixing cartoon and color in images of everyday life, and uses small fgures to create one painting, forcing the viewer to look up close and see more than initially meets the eye. “My main objective is to have the observers gaze at my work, losing themselves in a timeless dimension where I invite them to discover what I denote as my creatures,” he explains. “There is always something beneath.

In perfect harmony, his diverse “creatures” fuse together to make one larger and complete picture. (He was a fnalist in the painting festival “Le Touquett” in France.) Azar shows his work in Miami, Delray Beach, the Florida Keys and in Chicago, and has had international exhibits in Belgium, Paris, London, Mexico City and around Colombia. He also draws murals and keeps busy with the business of selling art.

To make extra money, he drives for Uber, a gig that has led to meeting interesting people. “I have a big ego,” he admits, “and for a while I didn’t want people to know I was an Uber driver. But I am not rich. Although I do well with novelas, they still don’t make me wealthy.” (He adds that his Latin American fans erroneously assume he is rich and driving a Bentley around Palm Beach and Beverly Hills.) So after feeling embarrassed about the sideline for a period of time, he now embraces it as an interesting experiment, a slice of life, and fodder for his upcoming works. What could be better than moonlighting in Miami?

“I see how others behave and speak out in the car,” he says, amused. “They think that they are alone so they talk intimately about subjects they should not be talking about. It has become an interesting acting experience for me, and at the same time, it makes me money.” The Uber driving is part of his overall plan to help improve the lives of actors. He says Telemundo actors “don’t usually make as much money as actors in American soap operas.”

On a more serious note, Azar started a campaign to unionize acting projects with Telemundo and Univision, encouraging an agreement to protect members of his craft from starving and spending downtime in the unemployment line. “You need protection in Spanish because there is no pension or overtime,” he complains. “That lack of protection is what forced me to look for a side job. But we won the election, and now we are negotiating to get a SAG-Aftra contract. Conditions have not yet changed, but I am hoping that they will.” Azar intends to get even more political in coming years so he can put pressure on local and state government to allow more tax incentives and get companies to come back to Miami and produce TV. His goal is to become president of Miami SAG/Aftra.

With his contacts, heartthrob looks and ability to talk to people on a positive level, he is a good candidate. “I would like to bring new projects to Miami for actors to have choices,” he says. He also makes time for sports, especially soccer—playing and watching it both here and in Mexico City. He enjoys the game of ping-pong and goes to the gym to stay ft. For recreation and downtime, he likes to play video games and spend time with his girlfriend, a Colombian actress. (He was married for six years and is now divorced.) They go to restaurants with friends, travel by car to experience new landscapes like Captiva Island, Micanopy and Indiantown in Florida, and other out-of-the-way places around the Southeast. “I love traveling to small towns and seeing how others live,” he says. “I don’t drink and I don’t like clubs. I prefer visiting weird places.”

“I have a big ego, and for a while I didn’t want people to know I was an Uber driver. But I am not rich. Although I do well with novelas, they still don’t make me wealthy.”

Currently, he is working on a project with a poem that his late father wrote. It is not ready for prime time yet but he hopes to fnalize the project in coming months to share with others. Down the road, he wants to continue acting, doing many more diversifed projects in English. “I want to act in more shows like Wrecked, and I will go to more auditions,” he says. “I will continue to act in Spanish shows, and I hope to do more flms. Basically, I do what comes naturally. My art started as a hobby, then became a profession.” Now he wants to take his acting to the next level and at at the same time, make life better for his fellow actors. Could we have a Hispanic Ronald Reagan in the making? Time will tell!