Jan Luis Castellanos On 'Breakwater' And His Experience As A Dominican Immigrant In Hollywood
Photo Credit: Steven Simione/Getty Images for Wonderland Sound & Vision
Interviews , Television

Jan Luis Castellanos On 'Breakwater' And His Experience As A Dominican Immigrant In Hollywood

On the heels of his performance in Netflix‘s Tall Girl and last year’s Bridge and Tunnel on Epix, Jan Luis Castellanos is now appearing in Breakwater, an innovative Snapchat series.

The series is a futuristic YA drama set in 2041, “where refugees survive in a dystopian world living with the irreversible effects of climate change.” It sees people dream of winning a lottery to a safe zone as a 20-year-old fixer races against an impending hurricane to complete a mission for survival. The show features immersive augmented reality experiences to actually show things like how high the water will rise after the hurricane and more.

Breakwater is a very cool series in [a] future, dystopian world that has to do a lot with climate change, immigration [and] refugees,” said Castellanos in a recent interview with Shadow and Act. “I play Jax, the son of a billionaire who built this wall that’s ultimately keeping people out. He doesn’t really know too much about what’s going on until he kind of gets to the other side, and [then he] starts to sympathize for a lot of these individuals. His perspective and views change– and his intentions change. He’s in a state of desperation throughout the entire series. It was cool to be a part of a show that highlighted diversity climate change and immigration– all those things along those lines. I’m very proud of it because of the fact that I am an immigrant myself.”

The past two pandemic years have seen a lot of gains for people of color in the industry, but there are still a ways to go. The 26-year-old remains hopeful and is happy to see how his contemporaries are making moves.

“There’s a point there where you feel like we are neglected until we’re not,” Castellanos said of the bittersweet feeling. “But I’m very happy to see that other individuals are shooting their shot and actually getting the shot. [I’m] just a kid that used to play around in the Dominican Republic public barefoot. I would play baseball, but it was with a broomstick. And I couldn’t afford a ball, so it would be with like, a little cap from one of those five-gallon jugs [laughs]. So for me to see on the show kids doing the same thing as well, while the world is ending and they’re just so naive to the point that they don’t know– that was me as a kid. And to be here, doing what I love most in Hollywood, identifying that passion, I try to navigate it with authenticity.”

Castellanos also always wants to remain true to his Dominican roots in everything he does, especially when it comes to certain projects. He also keeps this in mind as his platform grows and his star continues to rise.

“I don’t want to sound cliche, but you know, I come from a very small country,” he explained. “And anybody that makes anything happen from that country is greatly appreciated. So it almost feels like I’m voice for the voiceless for someone that can speak on its behalf. And I’m trying to utilize my platform more for that. So that I can be in tune more with my immigrant self. You come here at 10 years old, and you start to become Americanized. And then you start comparing yourself to American cultures, knowing that that’s not even your culture. Going back to the roots, honestly helps me stay centered and allows me to bring an authenticity that I haven’t seen on-screen, because it’s not like, you see a Dominican saying Dominican lines every day on a TV show or film. Those are my intentions, and also I bring my heritage and my culture to the table. I have an accent– I can turn it off and on– but naturally, it’s always on, because that’s just who I am, I have Spanish as a first language. I can’t wait to do a film in Spanish all the way through one day just so that my grandma and my people in the D.R. understand it completely. But it’s just about finding my place within the industry itself. And I’m still trying to figure that out, but I’m I’m enjoying the ride.”

Check out the full interview below in which the actor talks more about Breakwater, being Latinx in Hollywood, working on Tall Girl 2 and where he sees his career going next.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

© 2022 Shadow & Act. All rights reserved.