Momus Spotlight: Alain Rangel

Updated: Feb 4

When did you first catch the acting bug? Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?

I believed that it was meant to be from an early age. I recall a conversation I had with a family member when I was about 5 years old. We were sitting at the breakfast table and my aunt asked me, "Alain, what do you want be when you grow up?", I emphatically responded, "One of those people that pretend to be other people in movies?", she then rhetorically asked, "You mean an 'actor'?", me, "Yes, an actor!". Now that I think about it, it was probably the first time I consciously thought about the word 'actor'. Circa the same time period of my life, I would dress up as some of my favorite tv and film characters to play pretend around the house with the other neighborhood kids. Probably the best acting work I've done (laugh)!

But I never pursued it professionally until later in my adult life, because life took me in other directions that for one reason or another I was meant to go in first. Until one fateful day in October of 2010, as I sat in a knee brace from surgery, I watched Robert De Niro pound a cement wall in "Raging Bull". And the acting muse from my childhood came back to remind me of the path I was always meant to take. Now that I think about it, "Raging Bull" rerouted back to the path I was intended for and I am grateful that Martin Scorsese made that film.

After that "aha" moment, I took a couple of fundamental classes at a boutique studio in NOHO, but still didn't dive in completely. From then (2010), until 2017 I made the changes I needed to make in my life to finally be able to pursue it professionally. Where it all truly began was in 2017, when I decided to apply for the 2 year acting conservatory at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles (class of 2019).

As an actor, how are you adjusting to quarantine?

I have been fortunate to audition quite often during the quarantine. As a matter of fact, I have an audition for an indie film (horror genre) this week. I'd say on average, I audition about 2 or 3 times a month. But it's a result of dozens of submissions and being persistent in seeking out opportunities. Mostly self submissions on Actors Access and digging through the web for casting opportunities. In addition, I booked a couple of small gigs which were my first paying jobs as an actor. and they led to some good networking opportunities.

Overall I am proud of what I have done during this crazy time. I've surely but slowly made the transition from being a student of acting to a professional actor. In addition, I've stayed sharp, improved my craft and met some other ambitious artists. My network incrementally grew over the last 7 months, which to me is a sign of progress. Your network is your net worth, as folks in business say.

Is there someone in particular you are hoping to work with in the future?

I would love to work with director and writer, Alex Garland. I love the stories he creates (DEVS, Ex-Machina, 28 Days Later, Annihilation). I love stories that deal with the responsibility that humans have when creating technology and whether we have the maturity, or not, to use it responsibly. Alex's stories serve as warnings for us humans creating technology in the real world. Technology could make or break us as a species. Good examples are the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, there haven't been any more atomic bombings, but should they have happened in the first place? That is the sort of message you find in an Alex Garland story. Humans like to play god, but often lack divinity when it really matters, with an exception here and there.

How would you define acting?

It's a slight tweak on Sanford Mesiner's definition: Be human under imaginary circumstances.

I use it as a self reminder to be a human being, and not some sort of caricature, when I am preparing for auditions. Human beings are complex. That's why when we see a performance that is human we are touched by it as an audience.

What is the best acting note you have received?

The performance night (Spring of 2019) of my graduation play (The Diviners by Jim Leonard Jr.) at The Academy of Dramatic Arts, a fellow actor and student came up to me after the show to say, "You are a beautiful human being", in reference to my performance. It was an important moment, because that's the goal (to be human) as an actor and it reinforced that I am on the right track. You want to bring your own humanity to the work. It's something I struggled to understand early in my training and something I still need to continue to work on. It will be something I will never stop working on, but I definitely feel that I am on the right track. And to hear that my peers feel the same way is definitely positive reinforcement to keep going.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I have produced two short films in the last 12 months, which are still being worked on. It's a highlight, because if you asked me if I could produce a film five years ago, I would have answered the question with an unequivocal 'no!' I probably would have been scared of the idea of making a movie. It shows how much I have come since I started my journey as an artist. I actually would like to thank you all ( at Momus Media), because I would not have learned some of the skills to do so without y'all. Bless.

What are some obstacles you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest obstacle was the process of becoming an adult. I moved to LA county back in 2008. Not initially for acting, but to finish my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology at California State University-Dominguez Hills. There have been a lot of ups and downs since then. Mental health problems, knee surgeries, money problems, relationship problems, loss of loved ones, joy; the whole works. But it all made me stronger and led me back to the path that was always mine to walk.

What is your favorite movie?

"Amores Perros", directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. It's a deep and pretty dark movie about how one event can change the life of multiple people, but it's a beautiful piece. Watching Gael Garcia Bernal's performance always inspires me when I am in a creative slump.

Who is your favorite actor?

In general, and of all time, it's the legendary Meryl Streep. But in terms of today I really enjoy Jurnee Smollet's and Zoe Kravitz' works. I recommend watching "Lovecraft Country'', "Big Little Lies" and "High Fidelity" to see why. Talk about being human in the work.

What advice would you give to an actor starting out?

Learn how to survive first. Without even a basic level of knowing how to survive and how to keep a roof over your head, it will be very difficult to pursue a career in acting. I am fortunate to have a 9 to 5 job that helps me live and provide for my family, but also helps me invest in my career. As an actor you will invest in so many things. Headshots, websites, casting profiles, demo reels, etc. If you really love the craft and are committed to the lifelong journey of being an actor, you will need to know how to be a functional adult. You will need to have the basic survival tools of life to wholeheartedly pursue it. Even if that means less sleep (laugh). And from a collaborative point of view, my advice is be nice to everyone you work with and be professional. No one likes working with an a******.

And my advice from a human and personal perspective, is to live a full life outside of the craft. Travel, be in relationships, raise a puppy, go to concerts, be there for people in time of need, be a better listener, have other passions, learn to have difficult conversations with those you love when needed, work different jobs to learn different skills. Experience life fully. I am grateful for all the experiences in my life I've had outside of the craft of acting. They have prepared me for this.

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