Rising Through Resilience: Cole Fuentes On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing, find a way that works for you. — In schools they often have SEN support for ND kids but that didn’t work for me and just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean that I failed. I found a way that made education work for me. It wasn’t the usual route. Online schooling instead of brick-and-mortar schooling doesn’t mean I failed at school; I’ve just made my education work for me. Thinking outside the box is important if you want to learn to be resilient
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cole Fuentes
Cole Fuentes is an American actor living in York, North Yorkshire, UK. He has worked primarily as a voice actor for animation, games and audio books and worked as the younger version of a Lead actor on the recently cancelled Batgirl movie. Cole also aspires to be an Astrophysicist.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My dad worked in the US Navy and my mum is British and works as a photographer. They were stationed in San Diego, California which was where I was born. We moved to Spain when my dad was stationed at the naval base in Rota. When my dad got out of the Navy, we moved to England which is where I am now.
I started getting into modeling at 7 when I decided I wanted to do it to earn some money to put towards university fees as I want to be an Astrophysicist…I know I’m young to know what I want to do but I’ve always been obsessed with space and my parents always said to work in the field that you are passionate about because then it will never feel like a job. I enjoyed modeling and then acting when my agency started putting me forward for commercials, but I also absolutely love doing voicework and we have a studio at home now which makes things easier.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I was cast as the younger version of one of the Leads in the Batgirl film. That was my first professional acting role it and was very exciting, we filmed in Glasgow, and I got to learn Jujitsu for the role which was so much fun. It’s very different from voice acting as there is so much more going on. Learning about where my mark is and not looking at it and making sure to not look at the camera and working with background artists at the same time, it’s all very different from voice acting where I normally just have one person directing me and working with me and getting me to repeat the same lines but in different ways so I learnt that even though it’s essentially the same business they are very different in their approach.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mum and dad are my biggest supporters, they have always encouraged my brother and I to chase our dreams. We only have one life so they have always said that if we can support ourselves, we need to find a job that fulfills our passions, and that if we truly believe in our dream then we shouldn’t have a ‘back-up plan’ because having a backup plan undermines your likelihood of success. Even by putting a little effort into thinking about alternatives makes you work less hard to achieve your goal.
There are two other people that I must thank for helping me get to where I am now, one is my science teacher, Mrs. Clarke. She inspired me and supported me every step of the way. She never tried to change me or make me fit into a ‘box’ and made me feel like my autism was a gift rather than a disability and, on that note, my agent, Heather has the exact same approach to autism. I very nearly quit acting but Heather really talked me out of that but more on that and her amazing support later.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I think Resilience is about being able to still achieve the things that you set out to achieve despite the setbacks that you get along the way. It’s having that goal and being determined to stick to it, although I think you also have to be flexible thinker, I think the smaller goals you make for yourself to get to your end goal might change and I think you need to be willing to change or make those changes to get to that end goal.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different from resilience?
Courage I’ve always thought is doing something that needs doing even though it could be scary like talking in front of a crowd. Resilience I think is the same but different in that it will let you choose to step back in front of an audience again and again despite failing in the past? At least that’s what I believe.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
100% Keanu Reeves. He seems to have faced so much personal tragedy and loss and so many obstacles that could have broken him and made him bitter but despite all that he has a successful career and seems to be a genuinely humble and gracious man. I aspire to be this generations Keanu Reeves. Mum always says to make sure I know everyone’s names on set and to always be generous and respectful. Every single person on a film set has an important job to do. I hope that I am always the person that they remember for being kind and respectful before anything else.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Well, being autistic means that people think you can’t work in the industry or, for that matter, in any industry that neurotypicals assume is too stressful, overwhelming or physically demanding for us so I am used to people assuming that there are a multitude of things that I cannot do. I think that anything is possible with the right mindset and some reasonable adjustments. I know that there are many actors such as Sir Anthony Hopkins and other people in the industry who are on the spectrum who are coming forward to say that they are, and I think that that is very inspiring. Often in Hollywood you see autistic roles being played by neurotypical actors, so it was wonderful to see the Netflix film “I Used To Be Famous” cast Neurodiverse actor Leo Long into the role of autistic drummer Stevie. I can relate to him being neurodiverse and a keen drummer as well.
Did you have a time in your life when you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
I would say so far it has been the cancelation of Batgirl…. It was such a thrill finally landing my first big role in a major production. I loved every minute on set and my cast mates and I were so looking forward to seeing the finished product so when we heard it was canceled despite how close it was to being finished was devastating. I think we all had a few days where we went back and forth between weeping and moping but seeing the outpouring of love from the fans and reading the posts from the other cast and crew was enough to shake my negativity and get back to working on myself so I can be ready for the next opportunity! Being proactive is the best way to break a negative thought spiral. What I did was get a new showreel scene made, I got back into the sound studio and made a new voice reel and started attending screen acting classes.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Resilience is something you learn, not something you are born with. I wasn’t very resilient at school to be honest. It was too much, all the time for me to process. When you have autism, school life can be difficult. There are a lot of people, I got bullied a lot, so much noise and everything happens too quickly to process so it’s very overwhelming. I didn’t get a chance to step back and catch my breath. Because of all that I lost all my confidence and became a shell of myself. I had so little resilience at that point that I almost gave up acting altogether. It was actually my wonderful agent, Heather, who refused to let me give up on myself. Between her and my parents who saw what school life was doing to me and came up with a plan to home school. It was nerve wracking at first because change can be difficult for ND kids like myself, but it made such a difference and Heather made sure I chose what auditions I wanted to do and really guided me through it until I got my confidence back. I’ve gone from dreading the audition process to absolutely loving it and I’m now working a year ahead of my peers in my online school. I don’t think building resiliency means you have to plough through the hard times, I think it means that you need to find a way that works for you. I could have stayed at school and ploughed through it, but I do think that my confidence would be in the gutter and I wouldn’t be acting now. I have two goals in my life, to become and Astrophysicist and to be an actor. Neither of those is a back up plan for the other one, I plan to do both, and I will need a LOT of resilience, but this business does teach you that and I will find my own way to make it work for me.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing, find a way that works for you. — In schools they often have SEN support for ND kids but that didn’t work for me and just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean that I failed. I found a way that made education work for me. It wasn’t the usual route. Online schooling instead of brick-and-mortar schooling doesn’t mean I failed at school; I’ve just made my education work for me. Thinking outside the box is important if you want to learn to be resilient.
- Having a clear understanding of what your goals are is important. You are going to get knock backs, that’s the business, that’s life. You need to tell people that you care about what your goals are because when those knock backs come then those same people are the ones that are going to help you get back on track because they are invested in your goal too.
- Have good support….. you can’t do it alone…. it’s ok if you get a knock back and its more than ok to be sad about the knock backs but I know that if I didn’t have a shoulder to cry on and someone to help me find my way back to my goals then it would be impossible. You need someone that can say, “It’s ok that you are sad, I get it. Let me help you get back on track, this is how we can do it”
- Don’t sit back and wait for the situation to fix itself when it goes wrong. Being proactive is always the best way to move forward. I mean being pro-active is not going to bring Batgirl back, I can’t make that happen but what I can do is make sure that I have done everything I can to bring in new opportunities and that I am ready for when that next role arrives.
- Keep Perspective. Just because Batgirl had been cancelled it doesn’t mean that I didn’t win that role, or that I won’t get another role…I’m only 13, I’m a very old 13 but I am still only 13… I’ve only been acting a fraction of the time that many actors have been doing this. Actors that had been doing this for decades before they got their big break like Samuel L Jackson who had been acting since 1973 and it wasn’t until 1994 and he got the role in Pulp Fiction at 45 years old that he got his big break….. 45 years old, It’s never too late to be who you want to be! Reading about those success stories helps me keep perspective.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
It would have to be a movement to help Neurodiverse actors break into and traverse the acting industry and to help neurotypical actors, filmmakers, directors and producers to try to understand and make reasonable adjustments so that is possible.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
It would have to be Sir Antony Hopkins. A successful neurodiverse actor is someone who I would love to learn from! I’d love to know how he goes about handling some of the situations that I can find tricky and how he creates his characters, if he has a process that might help me. Also, Dr Becky, the astrophysicist (on YouTube) so I can totally geek out about space with her! I have so many ideas and theories in my head and its way beyond my parents understanding so I can’t often talk to anyone else about it. It’s like a huge bubble in my head that feels like it’s going to burst if I don’t talk about it so that would be the best lunch ever!
How can our readers further follow your work online? https://www.instagram.com/cole_stephen_fuentes
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad. His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head, heart, and gut— in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.