BELLO SPOTLIGHT on J.R. Ramirez

J.R. RAMIREZ: ON LOVE & HEROES

Photography Arthur Galvao | Featured in BELLO issue 166

by Brent Lambert

The highly anticipated second season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones is about to get a whole lot sexier, thanks to the show’s wise casting department who were smart enough to bring the beautiful and talented J.R. Ramirez on board. J.R.’s fans can also catch him in the upcoming new dramatic comedy, Sun Dogs, his newest film which will also be streaming on Netflix soon. BELLO recently sat down with J.R. to discuss everything from the nature of heroism, to love and personal evolution, and his biggest guilty pleasure of all.
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BELLO: The new season of Jessica Jones begins March 8th on Netflix. Do you remember when you first got the news of getting the part, and how did you celebrate?

J.R.: Yeah, I actually ended up putting myself on a self-tape for a project that I had absolutely no idea what it was, but they did tell me it was a big project, it had already been on the air, and that it was crewing up for its second season. They told me it was big and not to pass on it, so I was like, ‘OK, fine.’ And I put myself on tape and towards the end of pilot season I got a call to go in for a screen test on it, and again, they didn’t reveal much as I was entering the room — I had to sign a bunch of NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). Slowly I began to realize what it was. Then, of course, the nerves kick in, and soon enough I was in a room with friends of mine who had flown in from all over the place for the audition as well, and we felt like kids in a candy store. Krysten (Jessica Jones) was nice enough to be in the room which made it so much easier to play off the actors — that was really cool on her part. After that, it was about the longest ten days of my life. I actually got offered another project and they were in second position. So about day eight I was starting to get worried that project number one wasn’t going to happen and I would lose project number two. It was the longest ten days of my life, but obviously everything worked out and here we are.

BELLO: On the show you play Oscar, who is a single dad. How did you prepare for that?

J.R.: That was one of the biggest and coolest things — getting to play a dad. I’ve always wanted to do that. As far as preparation, I don’t have any kids, but I do have a three-year-old dog that’s my everything. I might not have a kid of my own, but the emotions must be pretty damn close. It’s all about having something bigger than you to live for and take care of. The little guy who plays my son is such a trooper and amazing artist. It was so fun to play Oscar — they really built such a multi-faceted character: he’s struggling, going through a divorce, and he lives for his son, who is his heartbeat. Also, my character Oscar is the new superintendent in Jessica’s building, so me and my son bump into all the characters quite a lot.

BELLO: You were already a fan of Jessica Jones, so as a fan, how did you react to the season two storylines?

J.R.: What I really liked about the new season is that all the questions I had as a fan at the end of season one get answered in season two. They really dig into Jessica’s storyline, and they go back into her past. They really dig into the backstory of it all. It’s very compelling and dark — I feel it’s darker than any of the Marvel series out right now. It’s also funny, with lots of dry humor. It’s really good and I’m very proud of it.

BELLO: Superhero justice boils down to vigilante justice, where these heroes bring criminals to justice outside the confines of the criminal justice system. Do you think there’s a place for vigilante justice in the real world, or do you think it’s something people should avoid?

J.R.: I love the fact that Jessica is the kind of person who is misunderstood. She’s trying to do good, she has a good heart, and she really just wants to help people. I think that’s an awesome set of character traits, and what’s even better is that she’s a woman and it’s a female-driven show. It’s a tricky question though.

BELLO: When you were a kid did you ever have any female heroes that you looked up to?

J.R.: Yes, my mother. My parents came to this country without knowing a lick of English. Speak of the devil, she’s calling me right now (laughing)! We got to America when I was a very young — we left Cuba when I was three-months-old, and I’ve seen them work their tails off every single day. My dad’s in his 70s now and he still works every Saturday. So yeah, I would say my mother is my greatest female superhero for sure. She’s quite an amazing woman.

BELLO: You also star in the new movie Sun Dogs which is coming out soon on Netflix, about an intellectually-challenged young man who wants to join the military to find more purpose in his life. In that context, what do you find has brought the biggest sense of purpose to your own life?

J.R.: What’s brought the biggest sense of purpose to my own life, I would say, was finding a profession that allows me to look in a mirror without ever being able to say, ‘Aha, I’ve finally figured out how to be the best actor ever!’ That simply does not exist. As actors, we are constantly digging deeper and deeper within ourselves and within our humanity to perfect our craft. It’s all about continuous growth, and it’s this that motivates me and inspires me to continue studying and learning from so many other terrific actors as well. That really drives me.

BELLO: So it’s all about using your craft as a vessel for constant personal growth and evolution?

J.R.: Absolutely. I mean, so many times I’ll have a hard day, and I’ve beat myself up, and I’m able to go to work and use any stress or strife and infuse it into my art to turn it into something beautiful. It translates into a day-to-day thing, and it’s so freeing. We’re very lucky to be able to do what we do. But it’s very tricky, too, because you have to continually be peeling those layers, and getting comfortable showing the true essence of these human characters. If it was easy, then everybody would do it. But it’s so rewarding in so many ways.

BELLO: What would you say is the biggest take home message of Sun Dogs?

J.R.: Well, I haven’t seen the final edit yet, but I keep hearing how good it is. I guess it’s that you can do anything you put your mind to. The script is so funny and Michael Angarano is such a great actor and a great dude. I hear he kills it, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

BELLO: If there’s a common thread that connects Jessica Jones and Sun Dogs, I was thinking it might be something along the lines of how unconventional people, or society’s misfits, end up becoming heroes. Did you ever feel like a misfit growing up?

J.R.: Well, not really to be honest. There was a language barrier in the beginning when I first came to the States from Cuba. Also, I was very overweight as a child. But I’ve always been very, very comfortable in my own skin. I never really much cared about what other people thought. My parents gave me an amazing childhood and they instilled in me the correct values in my soul, but no, I never had any ‘misfit trauma’ in my childhood. No issues like that.

BELLO: So on a lighter note, what is your biggest guilty pleasure?

J.R.: Cheeseburgers. I’d say food — right now, for example, I’m in New Orleans working, so I don’t know why I’m paying for personal trainers (laughing).

BELLO: What do your old friends think of everything that’s happened to you?

J.R.: Everyone back home knew I had something big to do in this life, and everyone’s so supportive. I’ve still got the same six friends of mine from high school that feels like family. Even though we’re all doing our own things right now, I’m still close with them. I’ve also got a great group of core friends in California now, too. I’m a big believer in how the energy you put out is what you get back. I’ve got some of the best friendships I could ever ask for in L.A.

BELLO: Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. What is your definition of true romance?

J.R.: True romance for me is to be able to find someone who elevates your game in a way that allows you to continue down your path and not veer off that because of insecurity or lack of communication. Love is love and it’s a beautiful thing, but you need to find someone who’s not only your best friend but who believes in you, supports you, and allows you to continue down your path. And it goes the other way too. You’ve got to be unconditional supporters of each other.
Jessica Jones streams on Netflix beginning March 8th. Sun Dogs will stream on Netflix soon as well.

Photography Arthur Galvao @ArtGphoto

Styling Phillip Keophaphone @fresh_philly

Grooming Grace Phillips @grace_phillips

Production Maison Privée X BELLO Media Group @maisonpriveepr_la @BELLOmag

About The Author

Aleksandar Tomovic
Editor in Chief

French photographer (of Serbian Origins) lives and works in Los Angeles. Known for his celebrity fashion editorials and recognized around the world for his european esthetics and american efficiency.

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