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Eugenio Derbez, co-host of the upcoming Latin American Music Awards (Oct. 17), knows the secret to making it in Hollywood: create your own opportunities.
The beloved Mexican comic joined Billboard‘s Leila Cobo for an intimate conversation about his thriving career as an actor in Mexico where, after becoming a major TV star, he suddenly remembered that as a child he always dreamed of working in Hollywood.
“As a kid you dream,” Derbez said. “But as you start working, those dreams go away. When I was 41, my mom (Mexican film and TV actress Silvia Derbez) died. Two weeks before my mom died an agent from Hollywood called.”
The call reminded Derbez that he had always wanted to make movies in Hollywood, but the idea seemed nearly impossible, he said. Staying in Mexico, getting paid well and working regularly was one option. Instead, he closed his production offices, packed everything he could and moved with his wife/actor Alessandra Rosaldo to the United States after the global success of his hit indie film Instructions Not Included.
“I struggled for more than 10 years,” Derbez recalled, who is co-hosting the Latin AMAs with Jacky Bracamontes. “When I came here at 52 everybody was like, ‘Don’t do it.’ I needed to do this. Everything changed. I came here and it was crazy. It was so fast from one day to another. I moved here and my wife got pregnant, I was like a young stud, from one day to another,” he quipped.
In Mexico, as Derbez attempted to make other projects beyond television comedies, he grew “tired … this is not working,” he said. He then changed his approach and asking for work, the actor added, he wrote a script and other doors opened.
“Instead of coming to ask for a job, I showed up with a script and they liked it,” said Derbez, who approached executives about new opportunities. “There’s a moment in life when you get stuck and you lack something. This new hunger wakes me and makes me feel like I want to conquer the world.”
Derbez most recently co-starred with Anna Faris in MGM/Lionsgate’s remake of Overboard. When asked what he was working on next, Derbez said he could only hint at an upcoming feature film, which will include both major Latino names and other actors well known to American audiences. When the topic changes to having better representation of Latinos in Hollywood, in the industry, he points to the lack of Latino executives across the industry.
“Diversity is not just onscreen,” Derbez said. “Diversity should be at the executive level. It all comes from the top. We need people [at the top] who can hire Latin actors.”
The Latin American Music Awards air live on Telemundo from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., 8 p.m./7 p.m. CST on Oct. 17, preceded by a one-hour carpet pre-show “La Alfombra de Latin AMAs” at 7 p.m. ET.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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