Julio Macias stars in the original hit Netflix original series, On My Block. The show is a coming of age dramedy that follows a quartet of street-savvy friends who are navigating their way through high school. Julio’s character, Oscar ‘Spooky’ Diaz, is a vicious (at least on the outside) gang member who is the big brother of Cesar played by Diego Tinoco. The show’s second season premiered last month. And YEM spoke with Julio about the significance of the show and its diversity.
Young Entertainment Mag: The second season of On My Block is now streaming! What can fans expect from the new season?
Julio Macias: Exactly what they wanted, with a whole lot they didn’t expect. I like to compare this season to an emotional survival guide. Where the Core 4 leap out of childhood and into adolescence.
YEM: The show has elements of drama and comedy. Is it hard to balance the two?
Julio: Not really, the writers are so good that the comedy comes through even when I’m playing a completely serious scene. I very much enjoy watching my performance get turned into something else during the editing process – what I thought was dead serious while filming, might end up as a fantastic punchline.
YEM: Do you prefer the more dramatic scenes or more comedic scenes?
Julio: This is a particularly interesting topic for me. I grew up on comedy, it’s the majority of what I consume. I would love to explore more comedic avenues in the future, given the opportunity. However, the beauty of drama is finding the small nuances between what makes you laugh and what might make you cry. Towing that line, to me, makes for the most dynamic performances.
YEM: Has your character Spooky changed since the first season finale?
Julio: I feel like Spooky is a monolith of the community. Even if he wanted to change, how much could he?
Spooky is no stranger to responsibility. To his brother, to the Santos, even to the Prophets. He also understands that unrest can swell into a destructive tide. So he plants his roots deep and tries to keep his neighborhood right where it is.
YEM: Your character is a gang member. Is it challenging to play a character that is so rough around the edges?
Julio: No, at least not anymore. Although I didn’t grow up the same way Oscar did, most of what he does, from my perspective, is motivated by Love and this sense of responsibility that was thrust upon him. I could never judge him without first trying to conceptualize what it would be like to make his choices. Once I did, I knew that his decisions came from a calculated and geo-economically conscious place, which also took into consideration the moral implications of his actions in his neighborhood. While many will throw out false bids, Spooky is willing to pay the price.
YEM: The characters in On My Block are in high school. What was your high school experience like?
Julio: I’m a Mexican born Angelino, through and through. I’ve spent most of my life here in Los Angeles, and honestly, I wouldn’t trade this city for any other. However, my parents moved to Florida when I started high school. I feel like living in Miami from 2003 to 2008 gave me quite a beautifully eclectic experience that not many people will have the pleasure or misfortune of living through. Social media hadn’t quite completely taken over our lives. And Miami, being the tropical paradise it is, felt like summer every night. And we acted like it.
YEM: Fans of On My Block love how this show focuses on diversity. Do you feel a responsibility to the Latino and African American community?
Julio: When I first booked this show, all I was thinking about was the excitement of a job and the thrill of embodying a new character. Once the fans started chiming in, it hit me like a ton of bricks the importance of this show and my participation in it. Oscar’s experience is not mine, but I am meticulous in making sure my portrayal of that life is approached with honesty, dignity, and respect.