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Jóse Julián plays Luis Galindo in the Oscar-nominated movie ‘A Better Life’ and the young actor was able to convey a convincing performance and wonderful screen chemistry with seasoned veteran Demian Bichir. However, Julián also shared many of his scenes with Chelsea Rendon and Bobby Soto, who played Ruthie, Luis’ tough, loyal girlfriend and Facundo, his energetic best friend.
The three teenage actors genuinely liked each other and the natural rapport they shared on and off camera was apparent. “I’m the man, definitely. I kind of push him around. Ruthie is a bad influence. Her whole family is made up of gang members. She’s grown up in that atmosphere, she’s very cocky and confident because she knows she can talk smack – her family is backing her up.
I think she really cares for Luis – I think he brings out her girlier side because he is not as big and tough but at the same time, she wants him to be part of the gang lifestyle because literally that is her family,” Rendon says. Rendon, friendly with a quick grin, is far less intimidating than her character. Nevertheless, she found she had quite a bit in common with Ruthie.
“This role was really close to home for me. I grew up in East LA, about ten minutes from where it’s set. Ruthie will always speak up for her friends and so will I. I’ve always been a tomboy, always hanging around guys, so in those respects I’m a lot like her. I think the whole movie is very accurate, in fact. I go to public schools, so I know about the influence of gangs and drugs and the [presence of] illegals – I think the movie really depicts all that authentically,” Rendon says.
Interestingly, although Ruthie’s kin are clearly affiliated with gangs, Luis’ visits with her and her relations are almost old fashioned – no violence, just a welcoming, familial sensibility – even if her supportive uncles are covered with ominous tattoos and may have designs on Luis’ future that his father doesn’t share. While Luis’ interest in Ruthie does not necessarily extend to her gang affiliations, their friend Facundo has no such reservations.
“Facundo is definitely into the gangs and is all about influencing Luis into joining one with him. They’ve been best friends since childhood but Facundo sees no way out – a gang is what he thinks will give him high ranking in the neighborhood. He tries to influence Luis in that direction.
He is not like Luis, who can just ignore it. Facundo needs to be part of a gang, and he would love for Luis to be a part of it with him,” says Bobby Soto. Soto adds that he hopes kids who see the movie will relate more to Luis than to Facundo, who often seems to be fueled by false bravado and misguided ambitions.
“I think a lot of kids romanticize violence and drugs and gangs. Hopefully, if they see this movie they’ll think differently – that you don’t have to be a thug to be somebody, that you have a choice,” Soto says.
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