Growing up in East Los Angeles with a single mom, Richard Cabral was in a gang by 13 years old, made his first trip to jail at 14 and by 15 was addicted to crack cocaine. His teenage years were a series of trips in and out of jail. At the age of 20 Cabral was arrested and charged with attempted murder and would spend a year in jail while he awaited trial. If convicted, he was facing a sentence of 35 years to life. Making a plea deal gave him a reduced sentence of 5 years of which he would serve 27 months. Upon release he found a support system in Homeboy Industries, Father Gregory 'G-Dog' Boyle's charity, where ex-gang members are provided jobs as an alternative to gang life providing they stay clean. It was there that led to Cabral being cast as an extra in CSI: Miami. Earlier this month we saw the release of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones featuring Richard in the role of Arturo. LatinoBuzz got to hear from Cabral about his transition in life.
LATINOBUZZ: You are from East LA and joined a gang at 13 years old. What was it about that time and place that you felt that it was yours and your peers only option?
RICHARD: I feel that in all kids that I've came across, that at the age of 12-13 is a big transition . They begin forming the Young Adult there going to become, here molding . I can't put a "name" on it but it's something. Your trying to find yourself, were getting ready to go to High School and as this world teaches you, you must "belong" to something. (So we Belong to Something)
LATINOBUZZ: I did a piece on Father G-Dog – how important was Homeboy Industries to your spiritual evolution and why are organizations like them always in jeopardy of losing funding when they change so many lives?
RICHARD: 'Homeboy Industries' is a great organization but beyond that, it is Father Greg. He is the reason why I was given this second chance. Of course other things play a factor on this amazing journey I've gone through, but if there was no Father Greg there would be nothing. I believe 'organizations' like these are always in jeopardy because what we are taught in this sickening world (“Society”) is "greed" and we as people are not one. 'Majority of "minds" are warped into the belief of the only person worth helping is themself. People think others that come from gangs, poverty, drugs are below them. Which is bull-shit because the whole world is going through problems, were all suffering together, people are just too blind to see.
LATINOBUZZ: Is it crazy to think that you would be a part of a blockbuster film franchise when you were facing 35 years to life?
RICHARD: Ha! It's ludicrous to even say it in the same line:) Well, that's what we are taught to believe and that's what I would have stated when I was sitting in a cell. But the power of belief, of God is beyond what mere mortals can Imagine. There is no restrictions in my Life. If I do what I love, work night and day, and I'm open to the spirits. that's when the "Greats" take over.
LATINOBUZZ: How important is 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones' for Latino filmmaking?
RICHARD: HUGE! This is the first time in history that Latinos have done it and made the "Studios" this amount of money and signed to a franchise. There is a wave of seasoned and young Latino actors right now! We're making money for the studios and were bringing the NOISE, there's no stopping it.
LATINOBUZZ: What moment as being an artist impacted you the most?
RICHARD: The true meaning of an artist/actor is opening my heart to the audience and at the same time opening their heart. Through sharing my pain I can possibly heal your pain, there is no other feeling like it, money doesn't compare. This is the true meaning of Art. I will attempt to do it till my dying day. The theater is the 'church' and when I'm on that stage I am the Priest/Pastor, it is a pure spiritual journey for me.
LATINOBUZZ: You've cited Miguel Pinero and Stephen Adly Guirgis as writers that understood your world. What was it about these two, very much New Yorkers, made you feel that way?
RICHARD: Learning the craft as an actor in Los Angeles is a very hard thing to do, in my opinion. We all come from a certain world and when you start learning the craft, you need material to read/study that you can relate to. We do not have too many Latino writers on the West Coast that I was able to relate to (or at least, I didn't know at the time). I came from the streets, so the most published authors had no relation to my world. As soon as I picked up Pinero & Guirgis, it was all over. It was my world, just in a different location. They cracked me open inside and out. They talked about the "inside" of the barrio, the emotions, the stories that people know is happening but were too scared to talk about. "Sun Always Shines for The Cool" and "Den of Thieves" will always be my favorites/breakthroughs.
LATINOBUZZ: What's your dream role?
RICHARD: I can't point my finger on a “dream role”, but the day's that I'm able to fulfill the stories of the hood/barrio on film, those will be great days. The stories of why people from the barrio become what they've become. To show that sensitive side of a man, its always filled with macho bull-shit, but we must see the other side (Fathers and Sons). In film and television they never get the good stuff, while at least I feel on my behalf.
LATINOBUZZ: What do you want to leave behind when it's all said and done?
RICHARD: When I die I want a child that never met me, to hear were I came from and what I accomplished and for him or her to live their life to the fullest and do what they were put on this world to do. No limitations, blowing past everybody's expectations. Screw whatever body thinks!
Written by Juan Caceres. LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook .