Back from Mexico
By Pat Tyson | Photo by Giuliano Bekkor
Award-winning Esai Morales, has won the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere. Born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, he is a graduate of the New York High School for The Performing Arts. His acting career began on the stage in “El Hermano” at the Ensemble Theatre Studio and at New York’s Shakespeare Festival In The Park in “The Tempest” with Raul Julia.
Some of his most memorable theater performances include Oscar Wild’s “Salome,” with Al Pacino on Broadway; “Tamer of Horses” for the Los Angeles Theater Center, for which he gained the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, and “The Exonerated,” directed by Bob Balaban. The San Francisco run of “The Mambo Kings” marked his musical theater debut.
His breakthrough role in La Bamba, the highly successful Latino-themed Rock and Roll biopic, led him to stardom. His many film credits include “Rapa Nui” produced by Kevin Costner; the award-winning HBO film “The Burning Season;” Gregory Nava’s film “Mi Familia” and Richard Linklater’s “Fast Food Nation.”
Morales became a familiar face on the small screen in numerous prime-time shows. In 2002, he won The Alma Award as “Best Actor in a Television Series,” and was honored as “Entertainer of the Year” at the 17th Annual Imagen Awards for his work on the award winning series NYPD Blue. In 2013 he joined the cast of CBS’ The Advocates. However, when his busy schedule allows, he enjoys visiting Baja California.
“My favorite city there is Cabo San Lucas,” he says. “I love its natural beauty, especially El Arco. I was there for the launch of The Baja Film Festival in 2012, and stayed at the beautiful Hacienda Hotel, also visited the Gran Faro and Palmillas’ One&Only.” The first time Morales ever visited Baja was in the early nineties.
“It was for a friend’s wedding. That’s all I can remember,” he jokes. “Needless to say, I think I had a great time!” He also enjoys visiting Mexico City, Acapulco, Saltillo, Coahuila, Tijuana and Catemaco. And what does he like best about Mexico?
“The genuine warmth and spiritual hospitality of its people,” he explains. “You feel there is more than what you see on the surface. Also, because of the role I played in La Bamba – I am an “Honorary Latino!” Morales considers Mexico to be a safe destination.
“From the moment we landed, my friends and I were pleasantly surprised at how safe, well developed and clean San José and Cabo San Lucas are. A far cry from the stereotype.”
A self-described “actorvist,” Morales has combined his passion of the human condition to build bridges across and beyond ethnic lines. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for countless charities and causes that include literacy, environment, health, immigration, arts funding and social justice issues, as well as his consistent evolutionary message inspiring our youth to strive toward a higher purpose and meaningful life.