Empowerment Series: Stage and Screen, Dominican Actress, Leticia Castillo Shares her Soul with AW
The inspiring Latina actress, Leticia Castillo has shared scenes with A-List actors such as Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, and most recently, Jeremy Piven in The Last Call. The talented actress fell in love with films at a very young age. She arrived in the US at 5-years old from the Dominican Republic, not realizing that the fantasy she envisioned while watching American Television would come true. She had not yet, learned to speak the language when she dreamed of acting as a career. Leticia was relentless in pursuing her goals, nothing would stop her from achieving what she set out to accomplish early on in life. Dreams come true but rarely on our terms and when we want them.
The first part of a successful career took her to the finance world where she did well. Working in Corporate America provided her with a steady salary, stable living, and decent mobility but there was a void despite the achievement. She wasn’t doing what she loved to do, instead, performing the work required to have a conventional life but Leticia is everything but traditional. She is a dreamer and relentless when it comes to her passion for acting.
AW had the wonderful pleasure of sitting down with Leticia for a Zoom interview. She was gracious, friendly, and carried herself beautifully, her warmth is palpable. The Latina’s inspiring story reinforced my belief – it doesn’t matter how long a dream takes, as long as you move forward determined to blaze your own trail, you can prevail. I hope this interview inspires you to begin building a roadmap to your dreams, too!
I read that you arrived in the states from the Dominican Republic at the age of five and learned to speak the English language by watching American television. Is that where your passion for acting began? I fell in love with acting very early during my childhood. My mom would always remind me that, we came to this country to get an education. In her eyes, acting was not a reliable career, particularly because no one on television looked like me. Graduating from Pace University, followed by a job on Wall Street that gave me the opportunity to get licensed selling currencies was a great living but was never a passion. God puts a calling in your heart, it does not leave you alone until you do what you are put on this earth to practice. My heart would say “This is who you are.” At the age of 21, my soul was not happy. I was accepted to audition for Lee Strassberg – a dream come true for an actor! But my mom discouraged me, which derailed me, convincing me to let go of the dream. It did not feel right but I was trying to do the “right” thing. Eventually, I returned to Lee Strassberg for a second chance. After all those years despite a big promotion to AVP at one of the big banks, my heart was elsewhere. My biggest wish was to be an actress, this time I took the opportunity offered, quit my job, and moved to Los Angeles to fulfill the dream in my heart.
Your love for films led to a career in acting, writing, and directing. Most of us have a hard time choosing one job, you have done all three! What has been the most challenging aspect of your journey, so far? I’ve had many small roles, the big one has not happened, yet. Some people may think of it as a failure because I’ve only done some small parts in short films, television, and plays. This mindset can be difficult to accept but I’ve learned there are no small roles! As long as you wake up every day with joy in your heart, there’s an opportunity for more. Ageism is also a difficult challenge in any industry but happens often in entertainment. Hearing someone say that you are too old, and suggest you do something else in place of acting can be discouraging. You have to do what you love, don’t give power to the naysayers. We have one life to do the things that make us happy.
You have shared scenes with some notable actors such as Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, and Jeremy Piven in The Last Call. You also landed a role in a movie with Ava Duvernay, you’ll agree that you’ve been in the presence of some great talent! We all have insecurities that can flare up at any given time, while we walk the path to becoming the woman we’re meant to be. Can you share an example of a time that you doubted yourself or your artistic purpose during this journey, if so, how were you able to move past the moment? One of my most vivid memories was during a scene I was scheduled to shoot with Jennifer Lopez. I was running a few lines for the part and experienced lots of nerves, worried about how I looked and would do on the shoot. She is a megastar, even without makeup, she is gorgeous! I was going to be standing opposite her looking like I did! It made me feel awkward and anxious but she came on the set and was so gracious. She was supportive, kind, and made me feel beautiful, letting me know there was nothing to be nervous about. We all get some anxiety, particularly, as actors but if we lean into the joy for what we do, it offers comfort.
You arrived from a foreign country as a child, overcame a language barrier, experiences your own obstacles, as a woman of color in the entertainment industry. What has it meant, as a Latina to achieve success in your craft? I’ve had to work harder than mainstream Hollywood but feel blessed and grateful to have this career. I always seek to be better at my craft and as a person. I’m successful because I never gave up on my dream to do what I love. Although I am not a huge superstar actress or have a fortune by society’s standards, the true measure of happiness comes in the way I feel whenever I get out there to perform my work.
You are an example of what is possible when we allow ourselves to dream big. Congratulations on all your wins! AW like to end interviews with a positive message. Can you share a mantra, quote, or piece of advice that can help inspire readers to keep moving in the direction of their dreams? Prayer, I pray on things and give thanks for the blessings. Whoever your God is, say grace and ask for guidance. Gratitude for everything is where it all starts. Stay thankful on the days when you don’t feel like it. Practicing these actions grounds me, helps me to stay in balance. When in doubt of my path, I look for the why. My greatest wish is to bring joy and laughter, make others feel good. Remember, why you are doing the work.
AW is filled with gratitude to Leticia for sharing her personal journey. It is essential to remember the importance of believing in ourselves, as we pursue our own dreams. The things that are truly worthwhile in life are never easy. I am learning the value of doing the work I love, it doesn’t feel like labor. My heart is filled with joy each time a reader connects with one of my stories, therefore, I can understand Leticia’s experience.
Our soul can only be at peace when we are in one with our hearts. In order to this, we must do the things that fill us with joy and fulfill our purpose.
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