When we got the thumbs up that Actor Adam Rodriguez agreed to cover our spring issue, we were brimming with literal thrill and excitement. Everyone knows that face and they definitely know that smile. It's wild to think that we've been watching him in film and television for 20+ years now. Still so young, with unlimited potential of many more roles that his fans (present company included) undoubtedly cannot wait to see & support him in. He has a resume that aspiring actors around the world could only dream of. Long standing characters, breakout roles, globally known co-stars and the list continues. Through all of the success and longevity, the man who showed up to our set, party of one, green veggie drink in hand, was everything you would expect him to be; humble, kind, humorous and aware. Very aware. Socially, consciously, politically, artistically. Aware. But you’d have to be well encompassed to have such a wide range as an actor right? We’ve watched him on our screens in a myriad of roles [from an officer, to exotic dancer; to exotic dancer costumed as an officer lol]. Adam Rodriguez is the real deal, possessing a gentle yet masculine polarity that quickly fills any room. His undeniable good looks are just an added bonus to the articulate, humorous [family] man we’ve long since admired and were able to creatively collaborate with for this feature. Arguably the best ’26 Questions’ responses we’ve gotten to date, a class act indeed, Adam Rodriguez:
1. Looking back on the incredible career you’ve led so far, if you had to pick ONE takeaway from it all what would it be? That nothing happens as quickly as you'd like it to or in the way you think it should. But if you stay focused on the work and your enjoyment of it, it all comes together exactly as it is supposed to. And so do you, if you remain present in each moment of your life. 2. Tell us about your life pre stardom Adam; where were you born, where did you grow up? Born in Yonkers, NY. Grew up in a suburb called New City with a lot of time spent bouncing back and forth to the Bronx where most of my family lived. I come from a tight family and my grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins were all a big part of helping to raise myself and my sister. This was a tremendous blessing. My father spent several years living in Boston when I was a kid and my mom worked to support the family so having these people around all of the time filled a big void and really shaped me. There were always lots of interesting characters around, some were cops, some criminals, some drug addicted, some devout members of the Catholic church and other religions who walked a super straight line and most importantly, lots of Love and respect for each other. No judgement was passed on anybody. Family was family and everyone was always welcomed around the table to eat or hang out. New City was a middle class town (with both lower and upper income families) and the best lesson I learned from getting to live in both of these places was that people are simply just people, no matter where they live or where they come from. They all want the same things for themselves and for their loved ones. Everything else is straight up bullshit. This allowed me a deep sense of clarity when looking at the world and the people I would encounter in it. There were only two kinds, those that understood this, and those that were to varying degrees on their way to understanding it. This realization created a sense of responsibility in me to help those that were on their way. 3. How were you first introduced to acting? I had been in a few school plays in elementary school as well as a local kids theatre production of Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice but in terms of really beginning to learn about acting and pay attention to it as a craft, I would say that began around twelve or thirteen when a close friend's dad whose name is Roger Moore (not the James Bond one but every bit as cool) introduced me to Marlon Brando's work. The Wild One was on tv and we watched it and something clicked for me. Brando made me look at acting in a way I never had before. He didn't seem to be acting, he was just "being" and I don't think I'd ever watched anyone more cool or charismatic onscreen. I was around twelve years old.
4. When did you know that THIS was definitely what you wanted to do with your life? I was nineteen and trying to figure what direction I wanted to take my life in and that was a tough time. I was enrolled in a community college but only showing up for the classes that interested me which were all geared towards the arts. I was taking music production, English literature, creative writing, songwriting and an acting class. Now I had always imagined myself becoming a professional baseball player but I was coming to the realization that this wasn't going to happen and in the middle of this acting class, I'm performing and feeling this feeling that I had never felt before. It felt the way I had felt at my best moments of playing baseball. I was having fun, and fully focused, and free in the moment and I had people’s attention. I could make them feel something along with me, I could show them something, or take them somewhere. It was powerful and I knew that this would be something that I could spend my life pursuing. Pursuing the craft of doing this magical thing where you let yourself fly and take an audience with you. That was it for me. I had taken acting classes before this in high school but this was the moment that it all clicked. This was the moment when I knew I would dedicate my time, my everything to learning this craft and to making my living through it.
5. Was there a time in your career that you felt like “Yes, I’ve MADE it”? …if so tell us about that experience: I've been lucky enough to have several moments where I felt this "Yes, I've MADE it" feeling, and what I've learned is that those moments are like big moments in a very long game. You must enjoy them and relish in them, but the reality is that the game is still going on. You have to get right back in the fight, so don't celebrate too long. You must continue to redefine what it is to "make it" and that will keep driving you forward to the next thing. That's the beauty in all of this, there is no finish line in terms of mastering your craft. There is only ‘the end’ and that's when you have finally "made it". "Made it" to the end. In terms of that, I hope I don't "make it" for a very, very long time. I can tell you two quick stories where I felt the "I've made it"feeling though. The first is when I booked my very first television series. It was a show called Brooklyn South and I had two big auditions for it. I had just moved to Los Angeles, in fact to go after this specific job. A friend of my father's from the military was working on the show and arranged the audition for me as a favor to my dad. I thought I blew it the first time but I guess I was wrong because I got callback and when I left the room in applause after the second audition I was walking out of the building on cloud 9 only to be called back again. I was brought into the casting director's office and told that I was being hired and in that moment I felt like "I made it!". I went to a payphone and called my mom at work. She was busy with a line full of customers and it was one of the most memorable moments of my life to be able to tell her that I had just been validated as an actor by getting this big job. The other moment of having that feeling has been post CSI:Miami and being able to continuously be working. I have felt a good feeling of "I MADE it", but as in wow, I actually made it a career. I have managed to be doing something I love doing for the length of a 20 year+ career. I made it all these years and have been so fortunate. It's amazing how fast the time goes when you enjoy every moment and never take the people or the work for granted. 6. You’ve shared quite a bit of time in front of the camera with true leading ladies like Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez & Taraji P. Henson, was there ever a time when a crush or level of infatuation ever made you nervous to perform with a female co-star? There's almost always a level of nerves about delivering a performance no matter who you're in a scene with and of the three ladies mentioned above, I've only ever acted with Taraji. In our first scene together I guess we were both some kind of nervous because we ended up kissing in a scene where there was no kiss written in the script. I just remember Tyler [Perry] laughing out loud and yelling cut and then asking what the hell we were doing? We both thought we were supposed to be kissing for some reason. We had a good laugh about it and it ended up being a great way to break the ice on the first day of shooting. As for Janet Jackson, we did a photo shoot together once upon a time and she was an absolute sweetheart. I used to crush on her back in her Good Times days and then I was crazy for her in her late 80's and 90's days again, so it was a treat to get to be with her for that shoot. I sweat when I'm nervous and I do remember sweating on her in this setup where I was shirtless and she was in a lingerie top. It must have been nasty for her but she is Ms. Jackson and she was very gracious. As sweet as you can imagine her to be, she was. I was of course conscious of the fact that I was dripping sweat onto Janet Jackson's body but luckily, I have this place in my head where I'm just like, "fuck it", no matter how embarrassing something is. I did apologize for it to let her know I was aware and I think that acknowledging the embarrassing thing always diffuses any situation. Being an actor has helped me lose a sensitivity to being embarrassed and I think that's a good thing. Embarrassment is only valuable when it teaches you a lesson. And that lesson only needs to be taught when you've done something inconsiderate, not something you can't control. 7. In like, you’ve filmed alongside some great male actors as well, was there ever a moment you had the opportunity to film with someone you’d always idolized or looked up to? What was that like for you? There have been a lot of people I enjoyed working with over the years but I was the most excited I've ever been about working with someone when it was time to work with Steven Soderbergh on the first Magic Mike film. He is a true collaborator and every person on his team from casting to editing was a master craftsmen. It was a great feeling to be welcomed to work alongside them all. A tremendous learning experience. 8. According to our calculations, Magic Mike came out in 2012 and you got married in 2016, do you think witnessing Tito’s “magic moves” maybe helped or hindered your chances of landing that initial first date? I don't think Tito's magic moves would ever hurt. Well, maybe just a little. But I'd say they had no effect on my landing an initial date with my wife. She hadn't even seen the movie when we first met. Once I laid eyes on my wife for the first time, there wasn’t anything that could have stopped the rest of our life together from happening. 9. Speaking of Magic Mike, the movie sort of ushered you from the undeniably ruggedly handsome type to a bit of a sex symbol almost instantly. What was that new wave of energy like for you? It was a lot of fun. 10. Many of your recognizable characters to date have been in the roles of Law Enforcement. With the present climate between officers and people of color, particularly men, how important is the type of cop/character that you portray to you? It's always of the utmost importance. Not to say that the character can't be flawed but they must be perfect in their pursuit of evolution as a human being. They must be trying to be better, or what's the point in sticking with them week after week on television. Characters in movies can be more closed ended in terms of growth because you get to see a completed story arc. In terms of how this all relates to what we're seeing today, I think we need to use positive examples of law enforcement officers on film and tv to help change our reality. And that reality is rooted in fear and the idea that there is a difference in not only the value of human life, but also in the level of danger between someone that looks like me versus someone who doesn't. Sadly, we have a very long way to go in seeing ourselves in everyone we see. We have to change our need to define a type of enemy as it relates to any physical appearance. In some way, I can only hope that I am helping to move this change forward as an artist, but most importantly as a father, a husband, a friend, as the man holding the door for you somewhere, or the person who answers a call for help from a stranger in any way.
PHOTOGRAPHER: COREY S. GUEVARRA | GROOMING & STYLE: KWAME WATERS