Matt Cedeno: Inside the Life of a Hollywood Actor

matt cedeno hollywood actorsIt’s a story told countless times, aspiring actor leaves family and friends behind to pursue their dreams. They work as a waiter to make ends meet, shuffling off to auditions daily all in hopes of one day catching just a little break.

For Matt Cedeno, who plays Alejandro Rubio on the Lifetime hit Devious Maids and Vasquez on the TV Series Z Nation on SyFy, his Hollywood beginning fit the cliche perfectly.

“I packed up my Honda and drove down to Hollywood with a friend. I stayed, he did not,” says the 3-time ALMA award nominee as Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama. “I didn’t have family here and worked a bit as a model, waiter, got certified as a trainer, but landed my role on Days of our Lives before I started working as one.”

Matt Cedeno: Inside the Life of a Hollywood Actor Click To Tweet

After roles in 22 TV shows and another six in film, Cedeno knows a little about the life of a Hollywood actor:

I would have to imagine working on a soap opera like Days of our Lives for as many years as you did is a grind – take us through what a normal day is like on a show like that?

Cedeno: I actually think the notion of soaps being a grind is an old wives tale! Sure there are days that can be long, usually depending on the complexity of a scene and number of people involved, but typically on a soap these days, production is quite efficient and I would venture to say the average day for a soap actor is roughly 4-5 hours.

Scenes are usually blocked and shot by set and story line. In other words, if I’m shooting an episode where all of my scenes take place in my apartment, those scenes will be shot back-to-back, even though the viewer is seeing the episode in a different order.

Gone are the days when a soap actually shoots and episode in the order of the script, which I hear was actually done once upon a time. In that scenario, if my apartment opens the episode and is the last scene of the episode, I will be waiting around 12 hours at least for them to shoot my scenes and everything else in between.

A day in the life for me when on a soap would be:

  • 7:30 – Arrive for make-up
  • 8:15 – Block scenes with director and actors involved
  • 8:30-9:00 Run lines with scene partner(s0 and get into wardrobe
  • 9:00 – start shooting
  • around 11-12noon – that’s a wrap
A Day in the Life of a Soap Opera Actor Click To Tweet

That is an ideal scenario if my scenes are first to go up. If I have to wait for others it could be an 8 hour day in which case I would usually hang out in the dressing room and work, watch TV, hang with other actors etc.

Pretty cush in my opinion. Average number of days/week varies of course but I’d say 3.

From the outside it appears the TV world is an intricate web of ‘who you know’ and ‘who you have impressed’ – here’s what I mean: You had a guest role on Desperate Housewives in 2009 a show created by Marc Cherry and starring Eva Longoria– currently you are starring in the Lifetime hit Devious Maids which Marc Cherry created and Eva Longoria is the Executive Producer – is that how this industry works? Make a favorable impression on one job and it lands you another?

Cedeno: Often times yes, it is certainly an industry of who you know, have impressed, and have worked with in the past.hollywood actors matt cedeno

In my specific case with Devious Maids…it is just coincidence that I happened to work an episode of Desperate Housewives. In fact, it wasn’t until we were on the set of Devious Maids one day that Marc remembered that I worked on Desperate Housewives! Great impression I must’ve made!

In actuality it was a small part on Desperate Housewives, years prior, so I don’t blame him for not remembering immediately, I had met him ever so briefly and he was gone.

He is quite loyal though as he has already brought on several guest actors and directors that he has worked with in the past. I believe there are many out there who would opt to work with people they have a working history with.

There is a lot of experience on the set of Devious Maids – seasoned actors like Grant Show and Susan Lucci – what type of things can you learn from watching the way they operate?

Cedeno: Indeed there is a ton of talent and experience on the set of Devious Maids!

My story line has really yet to cross pollinate with others so my main interaction, with those other than Roselyn Sanchez and Melinda Hamilton, takes place at cast table reads.

I certainly observe and absorb as much as I can at those sessions, every one is like a clinic! Solid and gracious is the entire cast so I hope to continue learning and growing with them for seasons to come.

Learning to act is a skill that most people just can’t do – how did you learn how to act?

Cedeno: I am still learning how to act!

It is without a doubt a craft that is not learned overnight but rather accumulated over a lifetime. Naturally some have more of a knack for the trade than others but in general, in my opinion, it takes a commitment and focus to applying yourself to discovering a technique that works for you.

It’s not easy and of course is fraught with setbacks but it’s possible for anyone I’d say. Well, almost anyone 🙂

 If some young person came up to you today and said they really wanted to be an actor – how would you suggest that they become one? What are the key steps and skills they need to learn?

Cedeno: First I would try and discourage them!

Then if they persisted and knew deep down that is what they wanted to do I’d simply say work your ass off learning the craft and acting wherever, whenever, and as much as possible. Accumulate experience breaking down material and becoming very good at the craft.

I would say that to have a realistic crack at success, it is better to live in LA or NY depending on the which medium you prefer to work in(NY-theatre, LA TV/film), so locate yourself to one of those cities.matt cedeno devious maids

Get in reputable classes that teach the craft as well as the biz and do it to it. Work through the slow times because you never know when your opportunity is going to come knocking, and it will, so be prepared to answer.

It takes persistence, focus, a little luck and a lot of craziness.

You’ve worked on TV and on films – what are the biggest differences of each experience?

Cedeno: Biggest difference between TV and films is the amount of time you have to complete the project. TV typically moves pretty fast, and soaps extremely fast!

In film, one usually has the luxury of many, many takes to get a scene as best possible, shooting a variety of coverage shots in addition to more prep and rehearsal time prior to shooting even beginning. That is why daytime gets a bad rap for its acting and/or production value, but one has to keep in mind they are shooting at least one episode per day!

Movies are ideal and the preference for most, as it is one’s best opportunity to extract their best performance.

You were the first actor to serve as Celebrity Ambassador for “PADRES Contra El Cancer,” – tell us a little more about that program, your involvement and why it is so important for you to give back

Cedeno: Yes I have been involved, at times more involved than other times, with Padres over the last 14 or so years I guess it’s been. Wow. Hard to believe. They are a wonderful organization focused on improving the quality of life, for kids and their family,that have been afflicted with cancer.

They mostly cater to Latino families but have open arms to all ethnicities.

Eva Longoria is actually the spokesperson for the organization and she has done an exceptional job of drawing awareness and raising money for these kids. She and the volunteers work tirelessly to make it a successful venture and it is awe inspiring.

Eva really is an unstoppable force that is setting a great example of how one should leverage their celebrity to help those who are really in need. It’s important to give back because quite simply it feels good and makes the world a better place.

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About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.

Comments

  1. Im very interested into becoming a young actress, I’ve done a lot of research to prepare myself. However it would mean a lot to know exactly who to know and where to start. Having someone to help peruse my dreams as a teen of being an actress would be a huge help. Any sort of advice would mean more to me than you know, please email so you can help me peruse my dreams!

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