How did acting start for you?
As a kid, I tried all the things — basketball, soccer, karate, swimming, robotics, Boy Scouts, music. Nothing stuck. When I was in elementary school, my older sister started taking acting classes and I was like, “Oh me too, please!” It stuck, and now I’m living her dream.
Do you remember your first acting audition?
My first ever audition was for a play in third grade about the solar system. I really wanted the part of Galileo, but I ended up being cast as a comet.
How was it to be a part of the cast of Atypical?
It’s been so much fun. We’re such an odd mishmash of weirdos and goons, and I love weirdos and goons.
Tell us more about your witty and opinionated character, Zahid, and what we can expect from him in the 2nd season of the show.
Zahid is Sam’s ridiculous yet sweet best friend who takes it upon himself to teach Sam the ways of dating and romance. Think Hitch, but way nerdier and full of terrible advice. As for season 2, the honest answer is I have no idea. I imagine there will be more terrible advice.
Let’s talk about your design activism. Walk us through your process, what are your goals with your projects?
Effective activism requires effective storytelling. Telling stories through data is a huge part of that, but data is usually complicated and boring as hell. As a designer, that’s where I come in. My job is to distill complex and dull information into simple and compelling visuals that (hopefully) shift the way people think about important issues. Yes, I’m a nerd.
What inspires you?
A good huevos rancheros and dirty chai.
Any actor/comedian that you wanna work with on stage and on screen?
Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal. Comedian: Stephen Colbert.
What makes a joke funny?
Tell us more about your character in the Ben Stiller-produced film Alex Strangelove.
I’m so pumped about this one. The movie follows a high schooler named Alex as he struggles with his sexuality. I play his weird friend Blake, a deadpan, judgmental kid who thinks he’s smarter than all his friends. He’s the kind of guy who will probably experiment with poetry in college. We’ve never really seen a story quite like this — keep an eye out for it on Netflix sometime next year.
Where do you draw your courage and passion to stand up for your beliefs and activism?
I’m telling you, a good huevos rancheros and dirty chai will take you far.
What do you think is your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Never missing a rent payment.
What keeps you busy aside from acting and stand-up?
My love language is Quality Time, so when I have free time it’s usually spent with close friends and family.
How do you balance your time?
I don’t think I do.
Is there any dream role that you wanna play? Dream project?
This question also gives me anxiety.
Top 3 songs in your playlist right now.
“Keep Me,” by Khalid. “Rushes To,” by Frank Ocean. “Sunrise,” by Norah Jones.
What do you think is the best decision that you made in the past 24 hours?
I went to the gym!! Y'all, I voluntarily went to the gym. This is a big deal.
Any advice you can give to any aspiring actors/artists out there?
Take lots and lots of classes. Acting, writing, directing, editing, painting. Good classes, shitty classes. Learn as much as you can.
If you’re a book, what type of book are you?
A political romantic comedy with awkward sex scenes.
If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
Right now my mind is on Puerto Rico. The neglect from our president is disgusting, so I would want to help groups like the Hispanic Federation or The Maria Fund.