Interview by Uriah Young
QFTD: Tell us about yourself. Who is Gabe Vargas?
Gabe: I consider myself to be a young leader. I live by the standard: actions speak louder than words. I am a first generation here in America; my parents are from the Dominican Republic. When I go back to visit my family and experience the culture, I sit back and ponder, realizing how privileged I am. Because they have limited resources, I think about how they make it, month-to-month, year-after-year. This gives me a sense of ambition, hunger, and determination to do better, not just for myself, but also for my family. I am the kind of person who feels like I can put myself in a position to help change my family’s circumstances. I thank God for blessing me and giving me the strength to move forward in whatever I try to accomplish.
QFTD: For you to be your age, I find your perspective very mature and noble. If you have a gift, you might as well use it to help your family, right?
Gabe: Yeah, man. Hard times inspire me. Hard times are my motivation.
QFTD: Let’s go back to your childhood, Gabe. Tell about the time in your life when you fell in love with acting.
Gabe: As a kid, I had a great imagination. I still do, to be honest. I would mastermind an idea in school. For instance, if I got in trouble at school, I would envision all the possible outcomes. Then, I would just imagine myself through the whole process. When I think of imagination, I think of Albert Einstein’s quote, “Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere. For me, as an actor, it is a great attribute to have an imagination because I am able to will myself through any mental space.
QFTD: And what about Baywatch? That show influenced you, correct?
Gabe: Yes. I would sit and watch Baywatch and imagine myself on the beach running. I could see myself on the beach having little squares on my stomach because that’s what the ladies liked (laughing).
QFTD: (laughing) Hmmm. I wonder if Pamela Anderson had anything to do with wanting squares on your stomach?
Gabe: Yeah. I was in love with Pamela Anderson on Baywatch (laughing).
QFTD: You’ve been working hard to build an acting career. What has your journey been like so far?
Gabe: My journey has been filled with a lot of sacrifices and a lot of faith. There’s been a lot of self-investment. Most important, there’s been progression. I am a very positive person, so it’s important for me to have the right mindset and set goals in order to see my growth. During hard times, I have had to will myself through, knowing that one day my hard work will pay off. Nobody said this path would be easy, and it is only the beginning. I’d like to thank the people in my corner who have supported me; Mr. Spencer from the teen center, who has been my mentor since I was 16-years-old, is one of them. He helps me avoid distractions out here. There’s plenty of them.
QFTD: You studied under Ivana Chubbuck, who has worked with many prominent actors like Halle Berry and Brad Pitt. What was it like studying under her out in Los Angeles
Gabe: First of all, it was an honor be under the tutelage of such a superb acting coach. Based on the information she would provide, I would create my own acting scenarios. For me, it is vital to learn from the masters, and she is definitely in that category. Just by sitting in class and listening to the advice she would give other actors, you just can’t let gemstones like that fall through the cracks. I take advantage of all opportunities to learn from Ivana’s classes. I remember one time she was teaching with intensity toward one of the actors. The scene called for the actor to smoke, but she didn’t have a cigarette. Ivana made it known that you have to bring the full picture whenever on stage. 'Whatever the script calls for, you should bring it,' was her message. She was very thorough, and her class was rigorous.
QFTD: Who are some actors that you respect and would enjoy working with one day?
Gabe: Besides Keanu Reeves? I would love to work with Clint Eastwood. He is a phenomenal actor and director. I love his body of work and his vision. His performances are always profound in his movies. I would love to work with Zoe Saldana. I could see us working together in maybe an Avatar sequel...who knows. The great Al Pacino is someone who I would love to work with. Movies like Scarface, Carlito’s Way, and The Godfather inspired me. He is the reason why I studied improv and why I will study Strasberg’s method of acting. Of course, Denzel Washington. He is the man. You see him in the movies, and he owns each scene he is in. He is such a great actor that people can’t take their eyes off of him when he is on screen. Lastly, I would say Anne Hathaway. She is phenomenal. She does a great job each time she plays a role. Those are some actors I would love to work with one day.
QFTD: How about directors? Any particular directors you’d like to step in front of the camera for as an actor?
Gabe: I’d like to work with Jessy Tererro, who directed a great film starring Robert DeNiro, Forest Whitaker, and Curtis Jackson (50 Cent). I actually met Jessy Tererro before. He gave me some encouraging words during that interaction. I’d like to manifest some great ideas together in a film or television project.
QFTD: The movie you earned a lead role in, Exposed, just finished being filmed. It stars Keanu Reeves. What was it like being on set with such a blockbuster star actor?
Gabe: Working on the movie, Exposed, with Keanu Reeves has been a blessing. It has been a dream come true. He was one of the actors on my list of who I would love to work with. This is a testimony: Over the summer, I was in my room, watching The Devil’s Advocate. As I was watching, I said to myself, three times, "I would love to work with Keanu Reeves, I would love to work with Keanu Reeves, I would love to work with Keanu Reeves." By the end of the summer, my management called me and told me about a movie produced by Keanu Reeves, and I ended up auditioning for it. Next thing I knew, I landed the role. I ended up being the third actor in the film. It was a surreal moment for me. The wrap party was about two weeks ago, and to be in the same building, with such a great actor who I admired, leaves me speechless. I must also add that being in a film directed by Gee Malik Linton, who has such ingenuity and gives excellent direction, was astounding.
QFTD: Fives years from now, where do you see yourself, and how do you plan to get there?
Gabe: Five years from now, I see myself living in Los Angeles with my family around me, continuing my acting career and staying true to the ARTS. I plan on getting there with a great work ethic and the right people around me to help me take my career to the next level. Along the way, I will make sure to thank God. Hopefully, I can make the right choices to build a solid career. Also, I would like to create a foundation to give back to the kids, who grew up in less fortunate circumstances like I did. I want to let the kids know that you can do anything if you just believe.