|Carlos Moreno, Jr.|
Carlos Moreno, Jr., local PSJA High School graduate, has been carving away at the rock for 25 years and has been having a lot of success as of late in Hollywood. It hasn't always been easy, and he's had a lot of obstacles he's had to overcome over the past three decades. When it's all said and done, he's hoping to have successfully establish himself as a legend, both locally and beyond.
Carlos Moreno, Jr. was born in McAllen on December 20, 1971. His father was Tejano star Carlos Moreno, who was known for his group Carlos Moreno y La Semilla. That group's most popular song was the hit "Hello Baby Doll". Moreno, Jr. was influenced by his dad's dedication to his craft.
"I grew up around my dad," Moreno, Jr. said. "You work with him, you hang around with him, and it catches on. You hear a song start from the beginning to the end. How do they do that? I got to see them play (often)."
While he was most known for his Tejano music, work in the music industry wasn't consistent. So the family would travel north to work on the fields.
"We would work in the fields, up in Michigan," Moreno, Jr. said. "We would go to Michigan for years. So I would have to study really hard."
At the time, he was into acting but it wasn't something he really considered. Moreno, Jr. entered PSJA High School, and was briefly interested in politics. Finally in 10th grade, he became interested in the thespian group. He applied but he was told "No" due to being a migrant student.
"So there was a man I complained to," Moreno, Jr. said. "I can't remember his name. He complained to the school board (on my behalf). The next thing you know, they created a special class for migrant kids that wanted to take drama classes at PSJA High. But we weren't allowed to participate with the thespians, it was just a special drama class for us."
According to Moreno, Jr., the teacher's name was Mr. Gomez and they only had this class for one year. He graduated and then went to a university to study political science. In his sophomore year, he took an acting class and got the bug again.
"I said, 'Oh no, I like this thing,'" Moreno, Jr. said. "The only problem was that I had a hard time. There wasn't a lot of Latinos in the university, at the drama department. So again I felt like, 'Oh no, I'm a migrant worker, I'm a second banana.'"
He kept at it, continuing his acting at the university, but Moreno, Jr. describes his time there as being difficult.
"Nobody wanted to do scenes with me," Moreno, Jr. "Eventually I felt bad and I told my counselor that I'm going to move to L.A."
Luck came his way soon after that conversation with the counselor at the university.
"Eventually, a production company came to Santa Fe. I had a teacher, who was teaching me, and I auditioned. I got the job!"
He was in his early 20's, and was now a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
"Everybody was like, 'You joined the union?' I was like, 'Yeah.'"
Due to finding work in film, he didn't have time to attend school, so he had to leave the university. He then also became a backup vocalist for his dad.
"I tried it," Moreno, Jr. said about recording and going on tour with his dad's Tejano band. "But it wasn't what I expected. So I got the money I made from the film, and I moved to L.A."
He worked as an extra in several different programs but it was tough for him to find success early on.
"I knew when I got there it was going to be hard. Because if it was hard for me to get an acting class at PSJA High, if it was hard getting scenes at a university, then they kicked me out for doing what they told me to do, and I didn't get my degree, so could you imagine how hard Hollywood is going to be? It's going to be the toughest thing. But guess what bro? I was ready to go, I was ready for the long run, I'm going to figure it out."
Moreno, Jr. says his parents and family kept supporting him and encouraging him to stay there. He started getting minor roles and he met Milton Katselas, an acting teacher who would become his mentor.
"I am a short morenito (dark-skinned man), so it's hard, difficult for someone like me to get really consistent work. The struggle, the tears, I was homeless for a while. I had to live in my car. Then I got into a car accident with a friend."
As the years passed by, Moreno, Jr. started getting more and more roles as he continued to fight on. In 2007, he got a small role in Transformers. He kept getting more and more work, including roles on television shows like Community, The Bridge and Dexter.
In 2016, he appeared in the film Frank & Lola, which stars Michael Shannon. Recently he also did a TV pilot called Mad Dog for Amazon Prime.
Moreno, Jr. is starting to see 2016 as a potential breakout year for him, and hopes to one day be able to do for others, what his mentor, Katselas did for him.
"I'm hoping this is the catalyst for my next step," Moreno, Jr. "I think I'm ready."