APRIL 5, 2014

Up Close & Personal With Marc Fajardo: Fast-Rising Hollywood Actor

by Dennis GALOLO

One of Hollywood’s fast-rising young actors is Marc Fajardo, a Filipino-American who was born in Los Angeles but traces his family roots to Cebu and Manila.

Fajardo appeared in an all-new episode of ABC Family’s hit-show “Pretty Little Liars” that aired March 11, 2014. The teen-focused show is a mystery-drama about four friends who

band together against an anonymous foe threatening to reveal their darkest secrets.

Next month, Fajardo pops into the techie world of Mike Judge’s new HBO comedy series “Silicon Valley.” The new comedy show focuses on a group of self-proclaimed sexless geeks in the world of young techie entrepreneurs.

As a youngster, Fajardo dreamed of being a performer. After spending his childhood years entertaining his family, he attended UC Santa Cruz, where he double-majored in film and community studies. At the same time, he choreographed and competed with a hip hop dance team called Haluan, which won first place at the Bay Area’s Battlefest Hip Hop Dance Competition. He also participated in the multi-cultural theater group called Rainbow Theater.

Having studied film and working behind the camera throughout college, he thought it was time to be in the forefront. He booked his first national commercial for Carl’s Jr. as a sad Robot in 2011 and has never looked back.

In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle, Fajardo talks about his family, how he got into the businesses and even offers advice for aspiring actors and actresses. His responses have been edited for space and clarity.

Q: Congratulations on your role in “Pretty Little Liars” and “Silicon Valley.” What do those two roles mean for your acting career?

A: I’m utterly thrilled at landing these roles. For me, it’s a step towards elevating my acting career because it means the door is cracked just a tad bit open to audition for bigger roles or guest star spots. Plus, I had the opportunity to work with great actors so I did a lot of observational learning on set.

Q: What kind of role best suits you?

A: I usually book the quirky type of characters but my dream role would be a character that acquires super human powers and tries to figure out how to control them—something like Spider-Man. I want an opportunity to share the physical agility and flexibility that I’ve developed in hip-hop, breaking, gymnastics and physical comedy.

Q: How difficult is it for young actors like yourself to break into the business?

A: It’s difficult in a sense that you have to ground yourself in your craft and your business—from getting headshots, acquiring an agent or manager, enrolling in acting classes, being on the up-and-up with casting directors, knowing the players in the game, and so on. As with any endeavor, it takes a lot of time, energy and passion. Once you lay the groundwork, your confidence and opportunities increase exponentially. People start knowing your work, they ask you to be a part of their project, you get in the circuit and meet other artists on set who would love to work with you. Each encounter is a different avenue for a new adventure.

Q: When and how did your first big break happen?

A: I had a few breaks that got me in. Each was a gradual progression. I booked a regional/internet commercial in 2010, then a national commercial for Carl’s Jr. in 2011. Then I booked my first TV role in 2012, followed by six TV roles in 2013, so it’s been a steady uphill succession for me. If I had to say my first “big break” was my first speaking role, then it would be from “Desperate Housewives” opposite Eva Longoria and Vanessa Williams. It was the final episode of the series so I knew lots of viewers would tune in. I auditioned for the role at the Universal Studios lot. The casting director gave me an adjustment after the first take and I went with it. The following day I got a call from my agent and I was jumping for joy like an insane monkey out of Planet of the Apes.

Q: What has been your most memorable role to date?

A: I have two. The first was the Carl’s Jr. commercial where I played a sad, mouthless robot that was unable to eat his chicken sandwich. I was sent to Legacy Studios to have the robot suit created by shaping and molding my body. Legacy Studios is the special effects place where they created Iron Man’s suits, Jurassic Park’s T-Rex and Avatar creatures, so they definitely have film history. They had me strip down to my undies while scanning my whole body from head to toe while being rotated on a small platform. Afterward, they molded my whole body, one body part at a time, from heavy paper maché. A few days later they painted and polished it to make it into the robot that it was. I made such a good impression to the director and head honchos of Legacy Studios that they asked me to be part of a GE commercial the following year.

My second memorable role was my experience on FOX’s “Sleepy Hollow.” I played an EMT who was infected by a 500-year old plague after applying CPR on one of the main characters of the story. I had a really cool death scene where I suffered violent seizures on a hospital bed while black veins crept up on my body and face, and I spew black blood out of my mouth. I looked like I came out of a Japanese horror film. It was so cool!

Q: Tell us about your family background.

A: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, although we moved around a lot due to financial difficulties. For about a year we lived in Virginia and Maryland when I was about 9 years old. But for the most part my family and I settled in Glendale, California once I hit junior high and high school. My mother is from Camotis Island, which is a part of Cebu and my father is from Batangas, a province in Manila. They met each other working at RCBC, a commercial bank in Manila. When they moved to California, my mother started working as a nurse while my father worked as an accountant. They later started their own nursing registry called ProCare Medical Staffing.

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