LatinXcellence: Roberto Larios made his Hollywood dream come true and now helps others to do the same

The evidence goes back to the age of about 13. Back then, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Sweetest Day – a holiday celebrated in the Midwest, including her native Chicago – meant working in her mother’s flower shop to help with the rush.

Further evidence can be found in his pre-Hollywood turn to health management, when he worked 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and once went seven months in a row without taking a day off. .

Even more evidence is the days he spent driving Lyft – sometimes until 3 a.m. on weekends – while working full-time as an assistant, networking and reading scripts in his spare time, so he can make ends meet.

Larios, a TV agent, knows what it means to work hard, and it got him where he is, at one of Hollywood’s top agencies.

Larios’s parents, immigrants from Mexico, were business owners who still worked, whether it was at the aforementioned flower shop, Mary Kay’s sale, or his father’s sports bar.

The latter, in fact, is where Larios gained great appreciation for cinema. On weekends before the bar opened, he would sit in the middle room of his father’s bar, hook up a VCR to the projector, and mow classics, sometimes joined by early risers. Sunday was also to go to the movies with the family.

Translating this innate love of cinema into his future career, however, took some time. But denying his passion for entertainment – and his loathing for political science, his initial educational pursuit while studying at Notre Dame – didn’t last long.

Larios landed at Hollywood agency Verve after graduating from DePaul University with a Masters of Fine Arts degree and never left, going from the mail room to being an agent.

“I’m from the country, and to be honest that’s the best avenue – being in the trenches to learn from the bottom up and soak up the culture of the company while learning valuable lessons,” he said. -he declares.

The trip, however, would never have happened without the mentorship and encouragement he received early on as an assistant from Verve partners like Amy Retzinger, Adam Weinstein and Bill Weinstein.

Larios describes his trip with pride because it is not a shared story. (“I got promoted in about three years. That doesn’t usually happen to a Latino in this industry,” he said.) Even less is finding bosses who will invest in your success and take action. to do it.

Take, for example, Larios’s side gig as a Lyft driver. When he finally confessed to a boss that he needed to supplement his income by driving, it was a wake-up call about what a living wage really is. While driving, for him, never made the difference between, say, having a meal and no, Larios was honest about his position.

“I told him it had never happened to this point, but what I didn’t want to worry about was making sure I could take care of my bills and be able to go home to return. visiting my family whenever I had a chance, ”he said. “I’ve been in situations and seen my parents being in positions where they literally had no dollars with the need to find a way out of that situation, and I never want to be in that position. again.”

This, he said, is a concern for many newcomers to the industry, especially LA transplants.

“These are the double questions of” How much do I want this? “and” Is that enough to keep me here? “he said.

Verve soon announced salary increases for assistants and was the first agency to do so.

Larios has said in all honesty that he has “the next Roberto” and everyone with similar backgrounds in mind – the first in their family to succeed in a difficult business with little or no resources.

“All partners paid attention once I was honest,” he said. “Their main concern, besides the issue of wages, was, ‘What if we got a call saying you were in an accident? “There’s the idea that everyone is replaceable, but they’ve made me and my colleagues feel like we’re each a unique part of the company’s success.”

Larios would like this humanity and this responsibility to become the norm. It starts, he said, when the agencies look at themselves.

“I would say, take a look at the list of each agency and how many miscellaneous agents they have, but it’s not necessarily a number. What is the ratio and, therefore, the impact ? ” he said.

At Verve, about a quarter of their agents come from various origins.

“That’s a good number, and we’re improving. But, at the end of the day, the ratio reflects a lot more the change – at least in our doors – and what we’re trying to do versus who we’re promoting and who we are trying to represent.

In addition, he said, it should be clarified in which areas of any studio or agency the people of Latinx are employed.

“In any big studio or company, like, if they say to you, ‘Twenty-five percent of our workforce is diverse.’ Well I would ask, are the real decision makers? Can they buy? Can they hire? Are they making a difference, “he said.

Even once in influential positions, Larios recognizes – and has experienced – the pressures of being a Latinx professional in Hollywood. When you’re one of the few Latinx agents in the business, it can come with an equal share of responsibility and scrutiny.

“It’s difficult for someone like me or, you know, like my colleague Gina Reyes, because we’re two diverse Latino agents in one of the major agencies in this industry, but unfortunately the pressure becomes one of feeling that we can’t sign everyone we identify with or who we identify with because of being Latinx, ”he said.“ We’re only two agents out of a dozen Latinx agents, so c ‘is the case. “

Larios believes his greatest responsibility is to do his job and to do it well for his clients, in the hopes of creating more opportunities for others.

“Ultimately, as representatives, we are here to build careers, raise profiles and, most importantly, fulfill dreams. If we can help, for example, five Latin comedy writers that we represent to be successful, and all five are doing wonders or are about to do so, so the ideal scenario would be that we could sign five more to replicate the success, ”he said. “At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily just the work that I or one of my teammates do, but how receptive the other end of my phone call or email is to our clients. “

He would never be able to do anything, however, if he had never used his voice, he said.

“I think the only thing Latinos in general need to do in this industry is not to be afraid to speak up,” he said. “I think a lot of us, myself included, just appreciate the fact that we’re in the room. Therefore, we don’t say anything and just accept it as is rather than thinking or saying, ‘You know what ? I think it’s wrong ‘or’ I think we can do better. ‘”

Questions and answers

Last name: Roberto Larios Jr.

Employment: Agent TV at Verve Talent and Literary Agency

Clients: “I don’t want to leave anyone behind. We represent ourselves as a ‘we’, not as an ‘I’.”

Years in Entertainment: 4

Mentor: “All of my colleagues at Verve, especially Bill and Adam Weinstein, Amy Retzinger, Chris Noriega, Gina Reyes, Manal Hammad, Melissa Darman, Rich Rogers, Chase Northington Matthew Doyle, Evan Pioch and Jake Dillman.”

Latino … from dónde? : “First-generation Mexican-American, raised in Chicago’s Back of the Yards. ”

Latinx trope I would banish forever: “Whether we all look a certain way or sound a certain way. Latinos have different skin tones and speak differently, even without an accent. ”

Latinx TV Show I wish everyone had watched / watched: “‘Resurrection Blvd.’, which aired on Showtime and ‘Gente-fied’, especially after Season 2.”

I think the Latinx actor / actress will be a big star someday: ‘Erik Rivera and Raiza Licea. They do so much in the comedy scene for Latinos and underrepresented communities. I really wish they could thrive and the world would know who they are. ”

Overused line that executives say when they transmit a Latin project: ” I am sorry. We must succeed. We already have a project of similar scope. Even when in reality it is five degrees apart. I call it the “Highlander” rule. There is a movie called “Highlander” where only one Ultimate Warrior can exist. So when there are two, one has to kill the other. And you hear it. ‘Oh, we already have a show on various doctors.’ But, it’s like, ‘Wait, you have two white savior doctor shows? Can’t you have two different doctor’s shows? ‘”

What I think all executives could do for a better representation of Latinx on TV: “When it comes to hiring writers or actors, there should be more than the same 10 people. When you think of Latin comedy, for a lot of people, it’s either Gloria Calderon or the bust. For example, instead find the next Gloria Calderon and give them a chance. And it’s the same with the actors. “Oh, we couldn’t get Pedro Pascal, so we’re going to delete him. We’re going to change the Latin male lead role to ambiguous. “Go find the next Pedro Pascal. I know it’s all about the money at the box office, but if you can’t get that great lead person, put the spotlight. in the next role or two and give someone else a chance. Believe you can make them a star. ”

About Alma Ackerman

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