On My BLock star ACTOR: JASON GENAO FOR 26 magazine autumn 2021 Cover

When ‘On My Block’ premiered on Netflix back in 2018, Jason Genao had NO idea his life would explode into instant notoriety! Seemingly overnight, the Jersey City native became recognizable to millions around the globe, spearheading the series story-arc as the relatable ‘Ruby Martinez’. Before then we’d seen Jason most notably in the limited series “The Get Down”, but the twisty-turny story lines of ‘OMB’ created an appealing watch and an in-demand home for the 4 season Netflix staple. Now as the show has fully wrapped, one might wonder what could be next for an emerging actor who struck gold right out of the box? We had the fortune to expound on these questions and more, leaving us CERTAIN that Jason Genao is only just getting started!

As told to: Editor In Chief, Corey Guevarra

Jason, as soon as our shoot began we fell into such comfortable casual conversation. As we lightly began discussing your exciting career a big [surprising] takeaway was how quickly you felt it all happened for you. Why do you wish that maybe you’d gotten more time as an actor before landing a hit show and role?

I wish I had more experience because the platform that’ On My Block’ created sort of unexpectedly put me front and center. Unbeknownst to many, at that time, internally I'd quietly felt like I wasn’t completely content with my acting abilities just yet.

What was it like for you mentally receiving fame so quickly?

I wish I would’ve know that fame was something that needed to be done with a complete support system. Being a novice at it, going at it alone initially, honestly created an anxiety and self-consciousness that resulted in some lost opportunities.

When you got the call backs and official ‘thumbs-up’ for ‘On My Block’ did you have any idea what could’ve been ahead for you?

I remember reading the script and not being able to put it down. That was really rare for me at the time. Regardless of my involvement, I knew the show was gonna be something that even I would want to watch. So I knew that there was an enormity that was going to come from it at some point. Not necessarily through subsequential notoriety or fame but honestly it was the actual quality of the content.

Now that you’ve experienced all that it takes to be in this business and continue your career (& personal life) would you still choose it? Would you change anything about your journey so far?

YES, I would choose it. The only difference is I would’ve created a different support system and leaned into the opportunities/resources necessary to help project myself up through this journey.

What were your initial thoughts when you were reading up on the Ruby character? Did you feel a connection to him in any way?

My initial thought was that Ruby was a hidden personality that I [actually] suppress. How open he is, how detailed & straight forward he is.

In the storyline, your Ruby character experiences a traumatic event that caused PTSD to become prevalent, there’s so much all the time going on in both our physical and electronic worlds, what measures do you take protect yourself from all that comes with the glare of the spotlight?

My first form of protection has always been disassociating myself or distancing myself from the negativity, but I’ve now come to a place where I’ve learned to embrace it and allow it to exist in the same world as me without allowing it to be negative.

More than anything what’s your BIGGEST takeaway from your time on ‘On My Block’?

The biggest thing I’ve gotten from ‘On My Block’ is happiness and confidence in continuing a career where I never thought the doors could even open for someone who looks like me!

How do you go about continuing to hone your craft?

I really am a believer of ‘practice makes perfect’ and it’s just about continually acting and creating and performing in everyday life. Observing the world and taking in the stories around you so that you can exude them if you ever have to portray them.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to embark on a similar journey?

I wish I knew what to say to really help someone, but I really feel like this fell in to my lap.

What was life like as a kid for you?

I want to say I had two childhoods. The one at my house and the one at my cousin’s house. In my house, I grew up in a really traumatic, abusive home where my only form of happiness and escape was through film and television. But then I was able to start going to my cousin’s house who lives two blocks away and my life completely changed. I started experiencing the world as a child should experience it.

Did you have any heroes growing up? If so, who & why?

My hero growing up was grandpa. My mother’s father worked in a restaurant and had a nice home and was always so happy. I couldn’t wait to be like him or even be around him!

If you weren’t acting, what do you think you’d be doing?

Acting happened in the midst of me pursuing cooking believe it or not! The goal was always to become a chef and still is to eventually open a restaurant!

We’ve heard that you’ve already booked 2 new upcoming roles, how does it feel expanding as an actor? How do you think your OMB fans will react to your new characters?

It feels really unexplainable to continue to be part of cinema especially if it continues to be the ones that create as much joy as OMB. And I hope the fans feel the same type of happiness I do “growing up” in my career.

What brings you the most peace?

I find the most peace either when I’m cooking or in/near water. I find myself cooking at times when I’m not even hungry just to cleanse my mind. With water, if I want to ground myself in real peace, I go to the beach, get in the water and it just releases any and all negative thoughts.

Describe your “perfect” day for us:

I’m an introvert so for me a perfect day consists of being surrounded by all my people. Start the day on a boat and end it in the house with food and games = perfection.

What’s your definition of luxury Jason?

Luxury to me is peace of mind. Never having to sit around thinking about your future finances.

What would we find you doing on your down time or off days?

Recently, I’ve found joy in working out so now I make sure especially on days off that I work out. You’ll also likely find me cleaning, cleansing my space & definitely cooking!

Are you into mantras or any other self-care rituals? If so, is there a daily or regular mantra you use to help you propel forward?

I’ve haven’t really gotten into mantras but I do work at gently reminding myself constantly “how worthy” I am of everything that’s manifesting!

Any grooming secrets you care to share?

Yes, patience is a virtue. Give products their time to work! Sanitation [of course] is key and wash your face with warm water, but rinse it after with cold!

What’s your go-to look and/or favorite designers?

Crew neck sweaters will always be my favorite look. I love Rhude and Marni but I’m the biggest fan of thrifting and finding hidden gems online.

Who is on constant replay on your streaming music playlists?

Aventura and Amy Winehouse!

Where is your favorite place in the world to be?

Puerto Rico in general and my grandma’s house in Long Island.

What did you do/Any new self-realizations/takeaways during our 2020 covid lockdown?

ENJOY life”!

Describe yourself in 2-6 words for us:

Hmmm.....Nice, funny, soft, lost, happy and..... hungry!!

Up next, Jason will star in the Steven Soderbergh film Divinity which centers on two mysterious brothers (Moses Arias and Jason) who abduct a mogul (Stephen Dorff,) during his quest for immortality. Jason will also reteam with Netflix and On My Block producer Lauren Iungerich in the Netflix live-action comedy limited series “Boo, Bitch”, currently in production and also starring Lana Condor (To All The Boys). In Boo, Bitch over the course of one night, a high school senior, who’s lived her life safely under the radar, seizes the opportunity to change her narrative and start LIVING! Unfortunately however, the very next morning she finds out that well…. she’s a ghost! Ooh we're in & we can’t wait to see Jason continue to light up our screens!!

Photography: CYOER Photo

Wardrobe: Kwame Waters

Grooming: Reginald Raphael

Set Manager: Brooke Taffett

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