EXCLUSIVE: Ramon Rodriguez & Jay Hernandez Talk 'Gang Related'

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Gang Related has hit FOX, and we’re hooked. A hard-hitting drama about L.A.’s organized crime families, it features a broad multicultural cast and was created by one of the Fast & Furious writers.

The series also promises several shocking twists and shows off an interesting dynamic between lead actors Ramon Rodriguez and Jay Hernandez. We had a chance to chat with the two stars at a recent kickoff event for the show and both of them sound very excited about what Gang Related has in store.

What drew you both to this particular series?

Jay: For me, this doesn’t feel like a television show. It feels like a movie. I thought the pilot script was amazing. And as the season goes on, it gets even better. There is so much great character development and everyone is so committed to making this show as good as it can be.

Ramon: Ryan, the character I play, drew me to this project. He is such a fascinating person. I’ve always been drawn to tormented characters and he’s someone who comes from a messed up background. He’s trying to do the right thing, but his loyalty is torn.

Both of you have done your fair share of TV. How does this project compare to the other series you’ve worked on?

Ramon: This show feels very special. We’ve got a great cast, a great crew and some incredibly talented writers. [Menace II Society’s] Allen Hughes is one of our producers and directed the pilot. 

Jay: I was just on Nashville, which was great. But I love this particular show because of its complexities. Plus, in comparison, this goes deep into the L.A. lifestyle, which I think fans will really get into.

Plot twists seem to play a major part in Gang Related. Can you talk a little about what this season has in store?

Ramon: The writers have done a great job of fleshing out all of these characters. Some of the so-called “heroes” turn out to be not so good and some of the “bad guys” actually have several redeeming qualities.

Jay: Without giving too much away, my character, Dante, winds up taking a huge turn and that’s something I’m really excited about. By the end of the season, you’ll see quite a contrast from where he starts off.

This series also features a very diverse cast and even switches languages throughout the episodes. How do you feel about the way it’s portraying Latinos?

Jay: I think it’s great that the network is getting behind a show that has so much diversity. I really hope the audience understands and respects that because it makes greenlighting the next Latino-centric show that much easier. We don’t just have diverse actors, we’ve got writers, directors and a whole crew from very different backgrounds. And the fact that we switch languages adds to the authenticity. I really respect the creative team for making these interesting choices.

Ramon: Yeah, I’m really excited to be part of a show with such a Latino-heavy cast. Shows like this give a lot of Latinos work and I think it really represents us in a positive light. This series also shows a lot of complexities within each character. Why did they make these choices? And what is it about their home life that drove them to become who they are? It’s not so black and white, which makes things a lot more interesting.

Catch Gang Related Thursdays at 9/8c on FOX. 

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Michael Lopez, Contributor

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Michael Lopez has written for outlets like TMZ, MSN Latino, Huffington Post and NUVOtv. He helped launch MTV Tr3s’ Blogamole network, overseeing celebrity interviews, breaking news, movie reviews and awards show coverage. Michael has also worked as a writer for brands like Playboy, Low Rider, Warner Bros and Univision.

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