Exclusive Interview with Joel de la Fuente
Joel de la Fuente is an actor that currently stars on the Emmy nominated show Hemlock Grove. It is a morbidly captivating show that explores a lot of the themes that tend to entrance us, such as fantasy, mystical creatures, and love. The show leaves its viewers grappling with these themes in a way that leaves them begging for more. Apart from hemlock grove, Joel also works on other artistic projects and is an avid classical theatre performer, with slight consequential leanings. He believes in happiness above all else, and in everyone's duty to promote happiness. This belief has both informed the love and passion he brings to his career as an actor, and it has left echoes of a message that he wants the whole world to vibrate along with. Make sure to catch up with season one of Hemlock Grove on Netflix, and join the rank of fans impatiently anticipating the return of the second season of the show.
1) So, I watched Hemlock Grove on Netflix, and I found it morbidly intriguing and watching the cast was a delight. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your likes, and dislikes?
Hi! Thanks for watching. I’m originally from the North Shore of Chicago and I have essentially lived in the New York City area for the last 23 years or so (with the occasional sojourns away for work).
2) Most aspiring actors/actresses simply start acting but I actually believe that there is an informed experience that comes from studying your art in an institution. You know this better than anyone because I read that you studied Theater Arts at Brown University. How will you describe the experience?
Acting is interesting, in that it requires skill, talent, and appetite. Talent is useful, but one needs technique to manifest that talent. Some people possess an inherent sense of technique, but many of us must learn it like any other trade. This is where studying becomes useful. I would credit my training at the Grad Acting Program at NYU for giving me a set of tools to enable me to do my job, regardless of my level of inspiration.
My time at Brown was invaluable for a slightly different reason. Yes, taking acting seriously is important – but so is living life fully. If you have all the technique in the world, it will mean nothing if you have no personal experience from which to draw on. College is one way for people to explore: socially, academically, and spiritually. It is a safe environment to take risks. Live life first. Act second.
3) Can you tell me about your experience as being a part of the National Asian American Theatre? What is the goal of the project and how has it informed the actor that you are today, or the actor that you aspire to be?
NAATCO’s mission statement (which has changed slightly over the past few years) was to put on the best plays in the Western canon – the “classics,” as it were – and to do them with Asian American casts. Since there was (and is) a dearth of opportunity for Asian American actors, how can they hone their craft, how can they improve, how can they test themselves with such little opportunity? By doing the best plays in the western theater, not only would it create an opportunity for Asian American actors, it would give them fantastic material to work with.
For me, NAATCO has been an artistic home over the years, an invaluable gift for an actor. Without NAATCO, I may never have had an opportunity to play roles like Iago in “Othello” or the title role in Chekhov’s “Ivanov.” Both experiences had profound impacts on me as a person and as an actor.
4) I read on your website that you are ‘an avid classical theater performer”. I presume that it is quite different from acting on television shows. Do you prefer acting on television or being in the theater, or do you get completely different experiences from both?
Honestly, it is just great to work. It’s great to have a chance to act. It’s great to have people want to come see things that I am in. So, if I’m working anywhere, I’m happy.
That said, there’s nothing quite like performing in front of a live audience, sharing something with a community of your fellow citizens. There’s nothing like being present (as an actor or audience member) for an event that is inherently special, because it was done just for the people in that room. That’s theater.
Television really increases the number of people who can see one’s work. It’s really amazing to know that literally millions of people are going to see what you and your fellow actors create! Plus, it pays the rent.
5) Yet another interesting thing that I found out about you is that you are a writer. Can you relay your experiences as a writer to me, as well? What do you write about? Will you consider yourself as a writer independent of your acting or does one depend on and fuel the other?
Writing, for me, is hard. I enjoy doing it until it gets hard, then I run screaming from it until it tracks me down and makes me do more. Before I die (hopefully well before), I will begin finishing the things I write. Then the world will rejoice, and I will get my own pet unicorn.
6) Hemlock Grove is a weirdly captivating show. It is a very atypical show in a lot of respects, but I quite like it. How did you get the role of Dr. Johann Pryce and how much preparation did you have to go through to prepare for that role or any role really that you get on television?
The short and simplified version of how I ended up in “Hemlock Grove” is that I randomly made a video of myself doing a Morgan Freeman impersonation and put it on Facebook. Then, a friend I had not talked to in fifteen years saw it while at a wedding in Mexico and showed it to someone who ended up being the head of the studio that was producing “Hemlock Grove.” Because of that video, she tossed my name into the casting process, and I ended up getting the role.
7) Is there anything that you are at liberty to discuss concerning the second season of hemlock grove in terms of what to expect or what themes the season will be encompassing and exploring?
There’s nothing I can really say other than many of the questions left hanging in season one will be answered quite definitively in season two. If you’re interested in what goes on in the White Tower, you will be a very happy camper in season two.
8) Hemlock Grove has a fairly large fan base, especially given the two Emmy nominations that the show received- congratulations of that by the way. Do you ever feel the pressure of trying to appease and hold on to that fan base whenever you are preparing for your part on the show?
I am concerned about playing Pryce in a way that serves the overall story of “Hemlock Grove.” There are so many aspects in and around that concern me but that I have no control over, and I try my best to focus on the things I can control. That’s an ongoing struggle, though.
9) Are you working on any future television, movie, or theater projects?
I’ve been doing a one-person play for the last year and a half called, “Hold These Truths” by Jeanne Sakata. I will be taking it to North Carolina in April and hopefully to other places in the future. It’s a very special piece, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
10) What advice do you have for young artists- musicians, actors/actresses, writers- and any youth really trying to pursue their dreams?
I think we have a responsibility to promote happiness. When we’re happy, we can make others happy. And if we’re not trying to make others happy, why are we on this planet, anyway? A big part of this means finding out what you love, whom you love, why you love and taking it seriously. If acting is your dream, then be serious about pursuing it. It can be a long and hard road – so don’t forget why you started pursuing it in the first place. And if it stops being something that makes you happy, then find something else.