The Quest For The American Dream
The immigrant experience is a universal phenomenon shared by many seeking greener pastures in far away lands, one that is all too familiar with Brazilian born actor Guile Branco. Upon arrival in the land of Hollywood dreams he soon realized that it certainly would take more than his passion alone to realize what he sought. The harsh realities of being a stranger in a strange land would soon overwhelm this young ambitious immigrant who is forced to demonstrate the true spirit of the immigrant, one that is resilient and dedicated.Today he reveals to The Immigrant Magazine (TIM) how he managed to forge his way to successfully realizing his American dream in the face of great adversity.
The Immigrant Magazine (TIM) : Who is Guile Branco?
Like so many before him, Brazilian Guile Branco sought a better life in America.
Guile Branco is now a hard working Los Angeles based actor.
TIM: How would you describe your journey from childhood to the successful actor you are today?
My story begins in Brazil, when I was about 17 years old and I began taking acting classes and dreaming about moving to the United States to pursue a career in Hollywood. Initially I studied under Brazil’s well known “Coffin Joe” Jose Mojica Marins, and afterwards enrolled in several other courses to be better prepared for a difficult test needed to earn a degree in acting. At 20 years old, I finally became a professional actor in Brazil, and my acting debut was in a play at one of the most prestigious theaters in Sao Paulo: Sergio Cardoso Theater, and yes, I had the lead role. I was certain that I was destined to pursue a career in acting despite all the naysayers, and against my father’s will. My resume soon boasted soap opera appearances and countless theater performances, including plays from famous playwrights such as Tennessee Williams and Jean Genet. Slowly, I gained support from family and friends — but in my mind, I knew what I wanted: to act in the biggest, most prominent arena in the world: Hollywood.
After a brief stint in New York when I was 18 years old, the idea of living here was as real as it got in my mind, and as soon as I returned to Brazil, I started to focus on making connections, and looking for opportunities in the US. In the meantime, I kept busy acting, and found a side job as an English teacher–a way to improve my ability to speak the language and be more prepared to face ‘Uncle Sam’ and its citizens. Soon enough — and out of nowhere, I met someone who connected me to a company that was doing business in Brazil, and needed an interpreter right away. I got the job, and luckily for me, they ended up flying me to work in New York.
The day I arrived in America was the happiest day of my life, but unfortunately the interpreter job I’d gotten was short-lived. My boss told me: “Well the job is done. What do you want to do? Do you want to stay or go back to Brazil?” I responded, “I want to stay,” and he replied, “Then you are going to have to bust your ass.” (pardon my English!) In a matter of months, I saw myself working as a landscaper, bricklayer, handling trash at a construction site and even as a bathroom attendant. I didn’t mind, I knew I had to survive and I was willing to do whatever it took for me to get to the next level, which was back to acting.
During this difficult phase, I even ended up living in Newark, New Jersey, where I hit rock bottom. I saw myself in a close-minded community, surrounded by corruption and dishonest people. I knew that if I wanted a future I had to distance myself from the wrong people and environment. As soon as I moved back to Manhattan everything changed. I started working as a waiter for catering companies and started to save money.
Eventually, I made friends in show business, and I started auditioning for parts. In the beginning, I was doing student films and Off Off Broadway plays — hard work and persistence paid off because people started seeing my talent and I started to tackle bigger roles, and bigger independent films.
I moved to Los Angeles six years ago to further focus on my acting career. I also began producing my award-winning film: Why We Train. After eight more months of hard work, my film was accepted for a premiere screening at Universal City Walk, where it screened to sold-out, enthusiastic audiences, and went on to win two awards.
Moving to Los Angeles enabled me to expand my network, and act in more interesting independent films. And of course, all of that while enjoying the beautiful ocean, the sun, the mountains and everything else that California has to offer. I believe that I live in the greatest state in the US. I am finally where I am meant to be — the place I dreamed of when I was still a child.
The greatest teachers in my life were not teachers by profession. I feel extremely lucky to have encountered gifted individuals along my journey, who inspired me, taught me, guided me through the hoops and winding roads in my life. I am passionate about life itself, and true happiness comes when you live the life you want to live. I dreamed about what I am now, when I was still too young to make my own decisions. There was never a doubt in which I didn’t know which way to go when I encountered crossroads. My destiny was set way… way back.
TIM: Some ethnic groups more than others seem to have broken the glass ceiling and are making headway in the industry, what do you think is the position of South American actors in Hollywood?
Finding work as a Brazilian in Hollywood is not easy. Here’s a fact many people here don’t know: people from Brazil do not speak Spanish, we speak Portuguese, and we are not Latin, we are Lusophone. The market for actors here is normally either American or Latin. Many times, I get called for Latin roles because people assume I speak Spanish. My background is Portuguese/Italian, so luckily for me, I have successfully booked roles as a European, such as Italian, Middle Easterner and even French (I once convinced a film director I was from Paris with my broken French… and got the role). I would say that it would be much easier to make headway into the industry if you are South American but from a Spanish speaking country. As of late, there are more and more actors and producers here from South America and a new market is slowly forming and growing. I have been working with successful Brazilian directors and it makes me very happy to see my countrymen making it in America!
TIM: What is your purpose and how do you know that you’re on the right path?
My purpose is to continue to build my career, through focus, continual learning, and simple hard work. An easy measure of knowing if I’m on the right path or not, is how any particular activity makes me feel. If something doesn’t feel right to me, I generally pass, preferring to develop what feels best to me personally.
TIM: What have been your challenges getting to this point?
The time from when I arrived in New York from Brazil until I obtained my green card was the most difficult. Although I knew what I wanted to accomplish, I was unknown in the industry, and had to hit the ground running. But giving up was never an option, I had to make things work no matter what — I remember being in dire straits, no money and living out of the compassion of others and calling my mom to say how wonderful my life was. BUT it was indeed wonderful, because I was never afraid things wouldn’t work out and I was where I wanted to be. When I faced a problem, I found ways to resolve it and to keep moving. Or I just followed my heart. Back then, I had a couple of managers who told me I would never work unless I acquired a native American accent. Well, the best jobs I ever got was because of my unique accent. And now through training, I have accomplished other dialects, such as New Yorker, Italian, French… it’s all in perseverance in this business and being careful with advice. Not all advice is good, more often than not, what you feel in your gut is the right way.
What’s also important is not to be afraid of exploring other paths. For example, for a short time, I volunteered at an Actor’s Agency, and that was a way I learned how the business works from inside. I could observe the interactions that happen in the process of submitting talent and casting a film and that fascinated me.
When I was in New York, I decided to produce a play I had written. Being a producer expanded my horizons even more. In 2006, I acted and produced “TWO DESTINIES” as an Equity Off-Broadway play, and starring in my own show was a dream come true.
In 2011, I became an American citizen. Finally another dream coming true.
TIM: What can we expect from you in the near future?
I will be seen in the soon-to-be-released The Best Night Ever and The One Nighter. I recently completed Pizza Me, Mafia with the famous Brazilian comedian, Tom Cavalcante, which is tentatively planned to screen at Paramount Studios some time in November.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be completing my participation as lead actor in a feature film in New York called 224, then I head to Boston and Rockport, Massachusetts to play the lead in I Share My Wife, directed by Jean-Paul Oullette, who among other things was the second unit director on The Terminator.
TIM: Where do you see the future taking you?
None of us know what lies ahead. I am grateful to have come as far as I have, and I will continue to work as hard as I can to advance myself, but I work in an industry where there are no guarantees, and I am well aware of that fact. My ultimate goal is to break into mainstream films.
TIM: What do your fans not know about you?
I drive a Mustang convertible. This is another interesting story: when I was down on my luck, living penniless in Newark, one day I was wandering around trying to figure out how to make it out of the hole. I saw this gray Mustang Convertible across the street at a car dealership. That moment I said to myself, “I am going to have that car one day.” Well, I got it now 🙂
TIM: What is your philosophy about success?
I am grateful to know what I wanted to do with my life at an early age, and I am particularly grateful to all of those people who have helped me along the way.
I believe that there are two ways of making it in this business: you either get very lucky right away (which is unlikely) or you stay in the business long enough, being a team player and improving your skills that eventually, you will get noticed. The timing is everything. Hopefully, there’s a point when casting directors recognize your talent and the stars align. I am at the point when I am starting to get those calls, and it feels real darn good.
Read more about Guile Branco at: www.imdb.me/guile
Like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/guilebranco