“Definitely Listen To Your Parents, Obviously” 5 Hollywood Tips With Diego Josef
I had the pleasure to interview Diego Josef. Diego is the breakout actor from Burbank, California who is high on the list of Hollywood’s “ones to watch”. This young multi- talented actor Diego stars alongside Peter Fonda, Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel and Tommy Flanagan in the critically-acclaimed feature The Ballad of Lefty Brown, which premiered at SWSX Festival. He began his career in print campaigns for iconic brands such as Reebok, Sprint and AT&T. Diego’s film credits include Ugly Benny, Girl Flu and Message from the King, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. He is also a regular on the Amazon hit series Goliath. In his spare time, Diego loves to give back and is passionate about animal activism and combating homeless youth.
What is your “backstory”?
As a young kid, I loved watching the hit Disney show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. That show was so entertaining to me, and it inspired me to start acting. I wanted to imitate characters who were funny, clever and well-liked. I begged my parents to get me started in acting hoping to land a role on Zack and Cody. They shot the idea down for two years until they finally gave in, but they gave me a deadline of 6 months to book a job or give up the acting dream. So, luckily, I booked a national Whisk commercial within two months and continued to book a commercial every month thereafter for two years until I booked a lead role in a show, Deadtime Stories for Nickelodeon. And here I am now, at 17 years old continuing my journey of pursuing my dream of acting, co-starring in movies like Message from the King, Girl Flu, and the Western, The Ballad of Lefty Brown.
What is the funniest or most interesting story from your acting career, so far?
As I was preparing for my first role in an independent film, Ugly Benny, at 12 years old, I was also very interested in free running/parkour. Practicing three days a week for almost two months, I decided to try a couple of moves in my front yard. Two weeks before shooting was to begin, in Oregon, I was trying to land a front flip off my bench, when I slipped on rocks and broke my tailbone. I arrived in Oregon, and didn’t breathe a word of what happened, to anyone affiliated with the film. Two weeks into filming, we shot a scene where I had to jump out of a trailer. After multiple takes, my my knees buckled and I face-planted into the dirt. My father and I decided to get an X-ray at the nearest hospital, and we found out the trailer accident had resulted in a bulged disk. After discovering that, I finally told the director, and filming continued — carefully. If you watch the film, you can see, in multiple scenes, that I am running with a limp, and weirdly leaning back. After getting back to California I went through four months of physical therapy!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished shooting a series regular role in the award-winning show Goliath, with the incomparable Billy Bob Thornton. Julio, the character I play, was a dream role for me because I was able to work head-to-head with Billy Bob. He was my inspiration in the movie Friday Night Lights; I watched it every Saturday right before my football games.
Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Wow! Where do I start? I have been blessed to work with so many iconic actors that I have admired for so long. Just to name a few: the wonderful Jim Caviezel, the super-talented Bill Pullman, the passionate Tommy Flanagan and the one and only Peter Fonda. And of course, Chadwick Boseman, whom I worked with on Message with the King. I am super excited to watch him in the highly-anticipated Marvel blockbuster, The Black Panther. I am also very grateful to have worked with the Tony Award-winner, Nina Arianda, on Goliath. I learned so much from her, and really admire her work. All my experiences, in working side-by-side these actors, has been priceless — especially at such a young age.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
I clearly remember working on a project in school where our teacher asked us to choose a person in history to study and write about. I thought to myself, “Who in the world would a 13-year-old kid, such as myself, be inspired to write about?” It was right around Black History Month, so I decided to write about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In researching Dr. King, I found myself completely immersed in the biographical details of this unforgettable activist and amazing human being. I learned that he only fought in a non-violent manner, and I clearly remember being so inspired by his eloquent speeches and deep kindness.
Who do you aspire to be like one day?
I would aspire to be a better and more refined ME! I want to be a better person and take time to process everything that is coming at me in life. I don’t want to be influenced by any business, industry or people’s impression of me. I’d like to stay as innocent and unhinged as possible.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I guess I would have to say that I spread goodness in different ways. I’ve donated money to charitable organizations and I have also volunteered my time during the holidays at local hospitals. I think that the best kind of goodness I can contribute, as a young adult, is to ‘pay it forward.’ I aim to share the wonderful advice from the amazing actors I’ve worked with, thus, hopefully, helping my peers and friends. This is, of course, in addition to continue to work with the charities and visiting places like Children’s Hospital and feeding the homeless at the LA Mission.
What are the “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started acting” and why?
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I would love to have breakfast in New York with Bella Hadid. Not only is she stunningly beautiful but she seems to be very grounded and humble. For someone fighting Lyme disease, being a supermodel and having celebrity status, she represents humility, strength and compassion for others. I’d also love to talk to her about fashion because she has an amazing sense of style, and I’d like to know how she manages to live life on her own terms given the demands of her industry.