By Patricia Alvarez
I had the pleasure of interviewing actor Joey Vieira via Skype from his residence in Brisbane, Australia. I will say that the interview did not go as I had expected, it became more of a casual and comfortable conversation only after a few short minutes. Joey Is from the Central Valley, a product of the 209; Livingston to be exact. From my conversation with him it is obvious to see why Hollywood continues to knock on his door for well over 20 years now.
Vieira’s resumé includes roles on The Shield, Kitchen Confidential with Bradley Cooper, as well as a voice role on The Simpsons. Ironically it was his move away from L.A. clear across the world to Australia where he’s been for 5 years now with his wife and son, that has opened doors to many more opportunities for him. Upon arriving in Australia he landed a role in San Andreas with Dwayne Johnson. A year later he had a role in Texas Rising and then Jungle with Daniel Radcliffe along with a Chinese action comedy called At Last followed by a few other projects. Now he will be heading back to Hollywood for the July 28th red carpet premiere of the live action movie Dora The Explorer where he play’s Diego’s father “Nico” alongside well known actors Eva Longoria, Danny Trejo, Benicia Derbez, Micheal Peña and Isabela Moner who is starring as Dora.
Vieira has also stayed busy working on a local Australian comedy called Welcome to Wrigleton where he plays Officer Gentle. Here in the U.S. he’s Detective Tolan on ABC’s Reef Break, an action packed drama set in a Pacific island paradise. The next episode airs this Thursday on ABC but you can also catch up on all the missed episodes on HULU.
There is no doubt the Joey will remain busy and it all stems from a deep work ethic rooted in his hometown of Livingston. He credits his success to his extremely supportive parents, sister, and friends that he says are more like brothers. Growing up Portuguese in a predominantly Mexican community only gave him more to pull from in regards to the appreciation of culture and his first languages of Spanish and Portuguese. Joey attended Livingston High School and was a part of Band, choir, played football, baseball, did wrestling, ran track and field and was also active in student government. On top of being active with all of that, Joey also danced Ballet. His interests in theater and the arts would introduce him to musical theater and his love of the stage.
Understanding that the Central Valley is nothing like Hollywood, especially in the 1990’s, ridicule from peers was also a part of his experience growing up in Livingston. Nevertheless, his tight-knit circle of friends/brothers and family who believed in and supported him got him to where was at now. He would continue his education at Merced JC, Modesto JC, Stanislaus State and completed his BA in Arts upon moving to Los Angeles.
There is no doubt for Joey that hard work pays off and he has not stopped for any breaks. He says, “In this trade the more you work the more work you will get”. But in a profession where roles are specific to gender, ethnicity, shape, age etc. it’s clear that standing out is extremely crucial. I asked Joey what one can do to stand out as an aspiring actor/actress. He said things have shifted from when he was starting off. “The presence of social media like Facebook, Instagram and other platforms such as YouTube should be utilized as tools by anyone looking to break into the industry. For example with YouTube you’re able to record yourself and get immediate feedback. Be aware of your voice, the level of animation in facial expressions, when up close- get comfortable with the camera, and be familiar with your mannerisms. When further away be more animated in movement and facial expressions. There are now more roles being adapted to fit ‘influencers’ instead of the traditional practice of auditioning and adapting to the role itself. It’s not a bad thing it’s just a shift and another factor that should be taken into account when roles are being sought after. Standing out is also a factor when it comes to geography. When auditioning for a role that is looking for a specific look it’s easier to stand out and get recruited for those roles if there are not 100 others that fit the same description”, says Vieira.
When in Australia for example if they are looking for a “Hispanic looking male” of a certain age, he knows his chances are much greater there than say in LA. Now he’s not saying everyone should move out to Australia for acting breaks, but one should keep their options open and understand that Hollywood is not physically only limited to just Hollywood the location.
As the conversation with Joey went on and he spoke highly of his cast mates from Dora the Explorer movie. He doted on his beautiful wife and loving family in Australia as well as his recent fond memory pushing his son around his Livingston alma mater. It was a pleasure chatting with Joey and with all honesty he had my full attention for the duration of our conversation. He is a master of his craft; the excitement in his eyes, positive energy and warm smiles kept me engaged the whole time. I can see why Hollywood seeks him out all the way across the globe. The glitz, glamour, and red carpets have not gone to his head as he remains very humble and down to earth. I will definitely be checking out the live action Dora movie on the big screen set to be released August 9th with my family as well as adding Reef Break to my HULU must watch list.
Joey Vierra is representing the 209 very well and is living proof that you can take the guy out of Livas but you can never take Livas out of the guy. Congratulations Joey and we look forward to your future projects cheering you on from home in the 209.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold comes out August 2nd.