Artist Spotlight: Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente
Hispanic Heritage Month is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the outstanding artists and talent that are prevalent in the performing arts and we’re excited to shine a spotlight on an up and coming artist with hopes to bring more conversation on diversity in the theater.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente, a theatre and television actor from Mexico City. Scroll below to read our conversation about theatre, Hispanic artists that Gonzalo admires, why representation on stage is so important…and more!
Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente (Troy Hallahan)
About Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente
Gonzalo is a performer from Mexico City who moved to San Antonio before college to attend an arts based school. He then went on to receive his BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. He is now based in New York City as a theatre and television actor!
We had the opportunity to see Gonzalo at The Lex Theatre Company’s production of The Little Mermaid where he played Prince Eric and we were so impressed by his talent and can’t wait to follow his career going forward!
Tell us about your journey to becoming a performer, what made you decide to do this as a career?
It was kind of a long journey because I was trying to push against it. I grew up not thinking that the arts would be a viable option for me. But you know, I got into it because I was a pretty hyperactive kid, adhd, and it was like ‘let’s put your focus into something positive’.
So when I moved to the US, that’s when I joined a theater company at my old high school (they are really good!) and that’s when I was like ‘okay maybe I can really do this… maybe this is where my passion lies’.
So tell us what some of your favorite roles are that you’ve been able to perform?
Obviously Prince Eric is like…TOP, it’s up there! It was just so empowering, I think one of the things especially after the pandemic being able to perform in front of people and have the relationship that Teah [Renzi] and I did from day one was very special… It was just playing and having fun, we had our own little family at The Lex.
Another role I loved playing was Man 2 in Songs for A New World…I loved the music and I love the show!
Teah M. Renzi and Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente in The Little Mermaid (Steve Shaffer)
And since we’re celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which Hispanic performers and artists have inspired you throughout your life and career?
My family has always been very involved in all of the arts so I was exposed to a lot from Mexico and then here as well. The people I have the most raw connection with in their work is Lin Manuel-Miranda which might sound like a basic answer but I admire the work that he puts on stage, the stories, especially knowing how hard we worked to get to that spot and now the empire he’s building! His material, I just really connect to it…but also the fact that he’s bringing all of this representation to the mainstream and it feels like there’s so much more behind his stories.
Of course I have Antonio Banderas on my list and Eiza Gonzalez, who was in Baby Driver. A lot of these people went to the school I used to go to, so it feels very personal, like ‘I could be one of you!’
So what does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
I think in what we were talking about, the representation matters, that it’s important that we don’t just get a unilateral story or idea of what being a Latino looks like and what being Hispanic looks like. Also partly educating people that those are not interchangeable…you can be one and not the other or you can be both!
So I think [Hispanic Heritage Month] is a moment where you can have that awareness…that there is so much more to us, we are not a monolith…I think that’s the main thing that I appreciate about Hispanic Heritage Month, the diversity that lives within us…you know? Like let’s talk about it!
Absolutely! Speaking of representation, I loved seeing you in The Little Mermaid. I saw it multiple times, that cast was incredible. What did it mean to you to have been cast in a role that has been historically Euro-centric white men?
It was so special for me, but at the same time I am in more of a privileged situation as a white Latino…I’ve seen that people appreciate it better or understand it better and are more open to having me in these roles. So while I feel like I’m representing my people, I also don’t feel like I’m representing my people.
But seeing Teah take that stage and take that role was very special to me…but that backlash is so hard and it’s continuously growing but it’s so important that we push against it and that we represent the diversity in our cast.
I really appreciated that The Lex really focused on bringing diversity and a representation of what the world actually looks like…like Greg [Sim] is from Singapore, Teah is Cambodian, I’m Mexican and we were all in Lexington, Kentucky because of The Lex!
Okay I love asking people this because if I was a performer I’d want to be asked. Are you familiar with MCC Theater’s Miscast?
Okay, if they were to reach out to you to do Miscast, what performance would you do?
I have a lot! But I broke it down to Breathe from In the Heights…Take Me or Leave Me, which they’ve already done but I really really like it.
The Aaron Tveit and Gavin Creel one is amazing…
I know, but let’s do it again!
And then I also have She Used to Be Mine because it’s just power.
Sara Bareilles gave us everything with Waitress, absolutely.
I also have some Six in there…
I would love to see you do Six, like I would pay to see that!
Seeing their representation as well has been so empowering…and 1776!
So you are currently dealing with a situation with your work visa, can you kind of take us through that for those that are unfamiliar with the process?
There’s a couple of ways to do it, for mine you get a visa through college and then you can get a permit to work but that also comes with a lot of restrictions. You can't be unemployed for more than 90 days after graduation…
It can only be related to your major or something that you studied while you were at school it's meant to be curricular practical training which is building your curriculum so it's tricky, but that's that's how I was able to do the Lex, Uncoupled, and I have another thing coming out soon too so that's the only reason why I’ve been able to do that. You have to be working constantly.
So now where I'm at, I'm trying to apply for an O-1 which is extraordinary ability in the arts and that's where it gets tricky because how do you prove that you are extraordinary in the arts? So they ask for a lot of evidence of your projects; are there notable people that are related to it, did you get any awards? The main thing is like did you get a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy? That’s literally at the top, like if you have any of these then you’re eligible! If not then here are six other criteria and you need to meet three of them.
But it's basically showing that the people in the media want to talk about you, people know who you are, people in the industry wanna work with you, and your work is recognizable.
So you need to provide all of that and this is a portfolio that you need to build so I have to look back at all my contracts like you know show a Playbill and these are some of the ads, and these are the reviews…it’s a lot of work.
And then you need to provide letters of recommendation, of course, and then you also need to provide the trickier part, deal memos. So you need to say for the next 3 years I'm going to have work, and therefore there can't be any more than three week gaps in between each contract and as an actor you do not know what you're doing 3 years out…and they only approve you for how long you can find work…and then you have to apply for it again.
That’s…a lot. It’s so important to know this, and nobody talks about it!
My school never taught me…but you’re an artist advocating for yourself already, and now you also need to provide ways that your work is important?
But through this I’ve started building a little bit of community with people that have done it and gone through it or are going through it…I had never heard of these [groups]! Had I heard about them a year ago I’d be in a much different situation right now.
So how can people help you with your current situation with your visa? I know you have a GoFundMe, is there anything else?
The GoFundMe is the best way right now…one of my limitations right now is I can’t work, I can’t accept any jobs, get paid. I have to pay $8500 in fees so sharing [the GoFundMe], and whether it’s $1, $5, donating literally whatever can be spared is helpful.
What do you have that we can see from you coming up?
I can’t share…but I do have a little ditty coming up on HBO Max and because of my visa I can’t take any jobs right now.
But people can watch Uncoupled on Netflix, I did, it’s great! There are clips of you at 54 Below all over the internet from The Little Mersisters!
Yes, those clips will live on YouTube forever!
Gonzalo Aburto de la Fuente, Emerson Brooks and Neil Patrick Harris in Uncoupled on Netflix
And this is a question we ask everybody so what is your arts addiction?
It might be a basic answer but it’s drag.
I don’t think we’ve ever gotten that as an answer, and I love that!
Written by: Jillian Hayes
RCA's Social Media Manager