We had the good fortune of connecting with Héctor Oliveras García and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Héctor, why did you pursue a creative career?
As the old adage goes: “I didn’t choose this life; it chose me.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creative to the core. Early signs include filling my school notebooks with doodles and comic strips, my awful teenage poetry, and the tendency to memorize my favourite monologues from film and TV and spout them out whenever possible, with little to no reason.
What really made these sudden bouts of creativity into something “real”, something that could turn my life into a living, was the amount of support I got from family, teachers and friends (in that spicy way that very close friends support you.) For too many people, the choice to pursue a creative or artistic life is often met by defeatist phrases like “What if you don’t make it?”, “Do you think you’re good enough?” or “Well, that’s fine, but what are you going to do to EAT?” In my home of Puerto Rico, this last one is sadly a common thing to hear, especially when it comes to the arts. Self-doubt is a parasite on the human system, and it feeds on outside opinions most of all. It kills the careers of young artists before they begin. But the flipside is also true. Words of support & encouraging acts have not only strengthened me, but also pushed me forward with great momentum.
I’m an artistic person, and that’s not a job description, it’s a way of being. Those random bouts of creativity were actually key ingredients in the recipe that turned me into the storyteller I am today. If those tendencies had been ignored or put down, I would be a different person. I’d be a person in denial of myself. I am who I am because of who I am, but I do what I do because of those people that pushed me along, and made me feel sure of the limitless potential I had.
So, teachers and parents: Make your artistic, creative kid feel heard. Make their talents seen. Because while self-doubt can grow on anybody, there is no way it can stand up to the light of our limitless potential. All it takes is a little push.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My writing is actor-focused, it’s weird, and it’s political. Before I got into writing scripts and plays, I was an actor. This informs my writing and makes me populate the story with bit parts that, no matter how small, would be fun for an actor to sink their teeth into. My weirdness informs my tone in subtle ways, and my politics, very unsubtly, informs my purpose.
I’ve grown to see entertainment as perhaps the greatest tool in the last couple of centuries. I’m anti-Imperialist, anti-Colonialist, pro-immigrant, pro-Puerto Rican independence, and I’ve got more opinions than hairs on my beard. My writing is a way to take all those opinions, and the idealism that comes with them, and try to turn them into a story. What is art and writing if not a way to try to make sense of it all? So, my politics inform the purpose of my writing: what am I talking about? My acting background informs my search for quality in craft: is this something that will be great? And my weirdness is a way to keep it all close to myself: does a three-toed sloth really need to feature into this story about colonialism? YES.
The problem with being kind of all over the place, like I tend to be, is that you’re kind of all over the place. And that makes it hard to break into an industry where the first question is: “So, what do you write?” “Um… I don’t know…. anything?” If you’re like me, all over the place, and looking to get staffed on a TV show, or hired to write a screenplay, know that very little will be tailor-made for you, but most everything can potentially have a theme you respond to, a character you resonate with, a world you can’t help but imagine inhabiting, and this is where good writing comes from. Isolate those specific things, and build, build, build.
What helps is to not get bogged down with questions like “What does the market want?” “What should I write to get noticed in this climate?” More than anything, you have to double down on “What do I want to write?” and then write it. Dig deep into what you believe and who you are, and write based on that. That’s how you write something that is true. It’s hard work, and I struggle with it daily, but in a world where everything has already been said (and it has), the only way to find new truths is to look within ourselves. Turn that truth into a character, or a world, or a theme, and run away with it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Monday – Korean BBQ at my favourite place (no, I’m not telling you which, the wait is already long enough), healthy amounts of Soju, a Honeymee for dessert, and then a walk around K-Town, a contender for “coolest neighborhood” contest, if not the winner.
Tuesday – We’re walking to Silverlake and going to El Cochinito for some Cuban food. No questions asked.
Wednesday – Maybe we can go for a hike in – Just kidding, we’re going to get Korean BBQ again.
Thursday – I’ll be honest. The Puerto Rican food in L.A. needs some work. But we can go to The Ricans Food for some fritters, or find the Triple Threat food truck to get some tripletas. Afterwards, El Floridita or La Descarga are good places to salsa dance some of those calories off (I will not be dancing. I will be standing by the wall looking sure of myself.)
Friday – Oh baby, it’s Friday so we’re going to Sushi Stop on Franklin Ave. After that, we’re going to Los Feliz for drinks. 1739 Public House has pool tables, so probably there.
Saturday – Getty Museum’s cool. Then Korean BBQ. More soju, please!
Sunday – Relax, take in the day, have some Fatburgers on Vermont, which is without a doubt the best burger in LA. Afterwards? Korean BBQ. Why?
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout is firstly to my family, who have never made me feel like anything less than who I am.
And definitely to all the teachers I’ve had that have molded me in subtle, but long-lasting ways:
– Guiseppe Vázquez
– Efraín Piñeiro
– Jorge Rodulfo
– Ligiah Villalobos
– Liz Keyishian
– María Escobedo
– All the wonderful, passionate teachers at USC’s Screenwriting program.
– My first boss in the “biz”, Reggie Rock Bythewood, who took a hell of a chance on this baby writer.
Dolphin – Art by Esteban Ruiz Black and White – with actor/writer Zaiver Sinnett