How the Cast of On My Block is Bringing Diversity to Netflix
Netflix may have released a lot of shows last month, from the ’90s dramedy Everything Sucks! to the One Day at a Time revival, but don’t think for a second that the streaming service is slowing down! Lucky for all of us, March is another month of major premieres for ‘flix — and we’re SO excited for this show in particular.
On My Block is a coming-of-age comedy that follows four freshmen through high school, but it isn’t all about love triangles and stressful classes. This show is set in the inner city of South Central Los Angeles, and even though all of them have high hopes of leaving for college, they have to get through high school first! And that means helping each other not just with the little stuff but the big stuff as well, like staying out of gang life. And as funny as On My Block can be, the show covers heavy topics… and Jason Genao, Sierra Capri, Brett Gray, and Diego Tinoco are totally up to the task.
“[We want people] to feel that it’s relatable,” Sierra said in an interview with Clevver.com. “And to feel more informed about other cultures that maybe they were misinformed about from other media outlets. I think that this show is definitely unlike anything else on Netflix at the moment.”
All four of these young actors may have pretty minimal acting experience — Jason was on The Get Down and you may recognize Diego from Teen Wolf — but they are the perfect people for the job. That’s because they’ve got enough personal experience to represent these characters on screen.
Take Jason’s role, for instance. Growing up, gangs were the norm for this Jersey City native. “All that was so close to me, but it’s like this thing where it’s surrounded you but you don’t enter yourself in it,” he explained. “It’s just another part of everyday life. The same way that you have stores, you have gangs.”
His character on On My Block, Ruby, lives in a similar environment. “Ruby’s surrounded in gang life, but look at Ruby’s story,” Jason said. “That’s just another element, something that’s happening around him, but that’s not what molded him as a person.”
We love that this young actor can give this perspective to the show. And he isn’t the only one!
For Brett, he found himself growing up with the same temptation that his character, Jamal, feels. As a self-proclaimed theater geek in the inner city, he couldn’t help but be torn between those two worlds — the gritty one that he was surrounded by and the better one that he wanted.
“I was like, do I hang out and be cool and try to sell drugs or do I play football?” he said. “Seriously, that’s actually the reality of it.”
It’s not often that actors are able to relate so well to the people they play on screen, and we know that is going to add an incredible element to this original series. And TBH, we can’t stress enough how much we love the honesty from these guys. But what they’re really loving is the support they’re getting from Netflix.
“They didn’t have to make this project and the fact that they did, that means a lot to us and Latinos, African Americans, and Asians,” Diego said. “It’s an honor.”
But while they all think that it’s a privilege to be a part of this project, we can’t decide who’s luckier — us or them! Because even though Sierra, Jason, Brett, and Diego are living out their dreams and representing their peers at the same time, we have the privilege of watching those stories play out on screen.
When the series premieres on March 16th, we will definitely be binging it. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be tuning in, too!