WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA
Jason Genao’s acting chops landed him roles in Logan, The Get Down and a lead role in Netflix’s coming-of-age series On My Block.
Genao, who instantly became a fan favorite after playing the character of Ruby, hailed from New Jersey with parents from The Dominican Republic.
In this exclusive interview, discover how the actor got bit by the acting bug, why he would love to be Jasmine from On My Block, and why he loves cooking.
Who is Jason Genao?
Jason Genao is someone from Jersey who wanted to get out and so he did whatever he could to leave and now he’s here.
He’s an actor who grew up with parents from the Dominican Republic.
I watch a lot of movies growing up and it inspired me to want to live in the realm of wherever these movies were taking place – the really pretty ones, like Into the Wild and La Vie En Rose- I live vicariously to these movies and decided to go wherever those things were.
What inspired you to pursue acting?
I saw this movie when I was younger. I remember my mom was cleaning and she used up a Bounty thing (middle part of paper towel) so I took it and I was watching a movie into the Bounty thing pretending to be a director. Through the focus of me watching the movie so intensely, I started to realize how bad the actors were. It’s like one of those crappy movies from Syfy or whatever it is. It was so bad I had to put it down and I was like “What are you doing? I can say these lines better than you.”
I was like nine years old. Ever since then I’ve taken every movie and I just repeated the words and I was like, “Now I wanna do this for doing it so much.”
What’s your most memorable audition experience?
I think it was my first audition. And I held my papers right here in front of my face and was reading and she was trying to get my attention.
She was like Excuse me?
And I was like, Yeah?
And she was like Thank You.
And that was the harshest Thank You that I’ve ever gotten.
I just knew that I did something wrong and I left the audition room thinking Oh my God my manager whose had me for five minutes now is already gonna fire me. It was so bad.
What happened after?
Three auditions later, I booked The Get Down. I got better. I youtubed how to audition.
“I think it’s telling the story of this 14-year-old kid and he gets to be the lead character of a successful show and he’s just out there telling people that this is what happens when you believe in a great story regardless of anything else; regardless of actor’s looks or anything like that, you get success. “
Out of all the roles that you’ve played do you have a specific favorite and why?
I love Ruby in On My Block. He’s the one who gave me the biggest stepping-stone in my career. But I would say I had a lot of fun playing Napoleon on The Get Down. It was always a party on set
What is your dream role or project?
I think it’s going to be any movie that looks like the movies that makes me wanna to do movies.
What’s the best thing about playing Ruby?
I think it’s telling the story of this 14-year-old kid and he gets to be the lead character of a successful show and he’s just out there telling people that this is what happens when you believe in a great story regardless of anything else; regardless of actor’s looks or anything like that, you get success.
How would you describe Ruby to those who are not familiar with him yet?
Ruby is this super ambitious aggressive kid who does whatever he needs to get things done. He is also the brain of the operation anytime something is about to go down. He is fourteen and his hormones are going crazy right now so he’s all about girls.
If you could be any other character from On My Block, who would you be and why?
I’d probably be Caesar just because I always thought growing up that’s the type of acting that I would do- not much comedy, a lot of drama.
But then now that I’m doing it I would also probably be Jasmine cause she’s so funny. I wanna be that funny. I want to try it.
If you’re not acting what keeps you busy?
If I were not an actor I would probably be a chef. In my spare time I cook a lot. I read or watch movies. I like to never be home. I like to be out all day, always.
If you’re gonna be a book, what book would you be and why?
I would probably be The Joy Luck Club. It comes to mind because the way these younger generations did something completely different from what the older generations thought they should do and told them they should do.
I live in this place where I love my family so much but there is no comparison to how I live or how they live or how we thought I grew up living.
See Jason as Ruby on Netflix’s Original Series, On My Block!