Catalans Abroad

Christian Rodrigo

Actor, producer, director and acting coach from Barcelona

Hard work equals success

Why did you leave Catalonia?
I started my career in business, I studied at Esade and I was doing very well professionally, but acting has always been my passion. I was already 30 when I came into the entertainment industry and I soon realised it was hard to start a career in Barcelona. If you’re 30 but you are not a well-known face, haven’t been in films, or on TV since you were young, it’s hard to get into the industry. So I decided to try Los Angeles for three months to see how it works. I was immediately hired to be in a music video with Bon Jovi, and I had many more opportunities, so I decided to apply for my work permit and stay.
You’re still in LA, so you’re happy with your career there?
When I arrived in 2010, there were already a lot of foreigners, so it was hard to get a role! But still, I soon started really exciting projects, some of them involving big celebrities. I got into the Actors’ Gang, a theatre company whose artistic director is Tim Robbins. I also became a member of the Actors’ Studio; it is really hard to get in both companies, it takes a long time and the process is very demanding, but I managed it. These things do happen here, if you work hard. I am also a coach and I teach acting, and I always tell my students that talent is important, but success also needs very hard work.
You also founded and direct your own theatre festival.
It’s called the Brisk Festival, and it takes place once a year in April for five weeks, here in LA. I’m in charge of 52 plays, all only 10 minutes long, in English and Spanish, with more than 200 artists participating from many countries. I tried to do this festival in Barcelona, but it was all problems, and too complicated. While here, they gave me the opportunity. This is the main difference between LA and Barcelona: here, if you work hard, you can be successful.
Which roles are you most proud of?
My first big role was in No way Out, directed by Héctor Echavarría, shot in LA and Paraguay. It was a major production with big names, a great beginning. I also shot last year in Alabama, with Bruce Willis, his last movie, which will premiere after the summer. Also, the TV show Snatch, based on the famous film by Guy Ritchie. I shot the second season in Malaga for four months, with Úrsula Corberó and an amazing cast and team. I also do commercials, which are very big here, such as a campaign for Dolce & Gabanna with Scarlett Johansson and Matthew McConaughey. It was amazing, and it appeared all over the world. Again, opportunities like this can only can happen here in LA.
What is the best thing about LA?
I love being here, I am an outdoor person so here the weather allows you to be outside, it’s a similar weather and geography to Barcelona; you have beach and mountain, it’s just that its larger, but the same concept. One of the things I love most is the attitude and energy of the people: everyone is super friendly, happy about your success, it’s a place that empowers you to follow your dreams and believe in yourself. Being an entrepreneur here is super easy, you don’t have to pay anything to be freelance, which is great. It makes you be more practical and you can try new things; it’s so much easier than in Spain. Not to mention that I got to meet and work with big stars from all over the world, and that is only possible here. Such as bumping into Patrick Dempsey a couple of times – people here confuse me with him a lot [he laughs].
What about things you would like to change?
LA is very challenging and expensive, and that can put a lot of pressure on you. For many people it is hard to focus on their acting career because they have two or three jobs to pay the bills. Another thing is that LA is such a big city that it’s hard to meet your friends if they live on the other side of the city. It can also be a very lonely city if you live by yourself, which is why many people share a house or a flat.
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
I’m a super fan of Barcelona, but when I was studying at Esade I had an exchange programme in Atlanta, and I connected with the way Americans live. Here it’s a good place for having a healthy lifestyle, being in nature, for sports; it just clicks with me. Ideally, I would love to spend half a year in Barcelona and half here, but that depends on the job opportunities I can get in Catalonia.

CATALANS ABROAD los Angeles (United States)


Where are the best places for visitors to stay in LA?
It depends of what you like and your interests, but I’d say: Santa Monica, if you want to be in a more relaxed environment, you want to be next to the beach, to go for a walk, and so on. Beverly Hills, if you’re looking for a more upscale experience, with fine restaurants and luxury shops. Brentwood, if you’re looking for a young environment next to the University (UCLA), and it’s not too far from the beach.
What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?
I think the most interesting and beautiful places would be: The Griffith Observatory. Beaches: Santa Monica (cleaner and more upscale), and Venice Beach (more authentic Californian vibe, with skaters and so on). Beverly Hills: Rodeo Drive. The Chinese Theater/Dolby Surround Theater, where the Oscars ceremony takes place and where there is the walk of fame with its stars. Downtown: Olvera street and Walt Disney concert hall.
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
The Getty museum. A hike up to see the Hollywood letters. Visit the two main universities: USC and UCLA. Make a visit to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). Visit Universal studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Disneyland. Take day trips to San Diego or Santa Barbara. Go to see the Grove and Westfield Century City malls. Take in some nightlife in West Hollywood. Visit the Art District downtown, where you can also find Japanese Town, LA Live, and City Hall. Go to the Venice Beach canals. Visit the Magic Castle.
Are there any places to avoid at all costs?
I’d say Skid Row downtown. There are so many homeless people there and it can be a little bit dangerous at night.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
That’s a hard one. There are so many wonderful places to eat in LA. Every few months there’s a new spot in town. Maybe Mama Shelter rooftop, Republique, Jones, Laurel Hardware, or Gracias Madre.
Where would you have a special dinner for two?
71 Above has incredible views, the Little Door, Perch, Il Cielo, Carlitos Gardel, Nobu Los Angeles, Bestia, ca Del Sole, Bacari, and many more. LA has amazing restaurants.
When is the best time of year to plan a visit?
I love June because of the amount of natural light and the weather, but anytime from April to October is. However, LA is not the best city for tourists. Because of its big extensions, you really need to know where to go. I always say that Barcelona, you can see it easily from the outside, but LA, you have to get inside. The same thing with San Francisco: it’s super easy to visit as a tourist. But LA, there are amazing things going on in buildings you would never get into, unless you know what’s going on. So it’s always great to go with a local. LA is a great place to live because amazing things are happening every day, but you need to know that, to be able to experience and enjoy it.
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