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Talking with actor Marcel Ruiz

"Breakthrough" actor Marcel Ruiz with Kidsday reporters, from

"Breakthrough" actor Marcel Ruiz with Kidsday reporters, from left,  Kaliyah Ramsey, Giana Torres, Bavinton Morales, Valeria Arevalo and Diana Palacios at Fox offices in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

We met actor Marcel Ruiz. He stars in one of our favorite TV series, "One Day at a Time," and also in the incredible movie "Breakthrough." "One Day at a Time" was on Netflix but now it is on Pop TV.

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?

 My parents are filmmakers, so I like kind of grew up in this. I grew up on a set. I grew up watching them work. And it would come naturally to me. And when I was little, and they needed kids to act in their movies or in their commercials, I would be there and just do it. I was born in Puerto Rico. And I moved to Los Angeles when I was 9. When we moved to Los Angeles and it came to a time when, hey let’s just try acting for fun, like as a hobby, I knew what to do already because of my parents. That’s why I never took any acting classes because my parents really taught me everything.

After a while, this is more real and more serious and not just like for fun. It’s actually a job. And I know it can take me places. So now I know that it gives a lot of opportunities, and I’ll keep doing it as long as it does keep bringing great opportunities.

How did you memorize your lines?

I memorized my lines by just rehearsing a lot. A lot of people will go to their rooms or when they have a break, just sit down and really just read them and try to memorize them. But for me, just after rehearsing them so much with the director or being on set and saying them a couple of times and, if you’re really like in the moment, then it just comes to you naturally because you’re not like automatically saying lines, you’re really there in the moment and actually feeling it. So it just comes naturally and, yeah, there were some long lines that I had to learn. But there was help there and I had my parents and the director, so it made me feel more comfortable.

Who is your role model?

I do have a lot of role models. Virgil Abloh. He’s not an actor. He is a fashion designer, DJ, architect. What I like about him is that he’s teaching young kids like me and you that he can be multitalented and that we can all be successful in more than one thing, which he is. And that’s something that I love about him and that I love about fashion. And he’s actually the first African-American now to be named head men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton. So that’s like a big accomplishment of his. So, yeah, he’s kind of my role model right now.

Do you have any siblings?

 No. For a long time, I did want a brother or sister just because I would get bored sometimes. And I’d always like use my parents as my siblings. I’d be like, hey let’s play, and they’d get annoyed. But, yeah, when I was like 10 or 11 I was like really obsessed with I want to have a sister or a brother. But now that I’m older and I still don’t have a brother or sibling, I got used to it and I got over it. But in the show I was in, “One Day at a Time,” I had a sister [Isabella Gómez] there. And so she’s in real life she’s like my real sister. And we love each other like real family. And we also fight like real family. So that’s the fun of it.

Where do you go to high school?

I go to high school in Los Angeles. That’s where I live right now. It’s a public high school, but it’s a performing arts high school. There’s a lot of kids that are actors there or that, want to pursue that. And that they have. It’s really cool because they have like dance academies, visual arts, drawing, painting, all of that and acting.  It’s really cool and it’s inspiring because you know, there are kids that I can relate to and that have so many good ideas and are so smart. It’s a fun school. It’s also hard to keep up with it when I’m outside of school and I have to work at the same time. Because you know other people that work, they’ll be acting and then when they get a break, they’ll go to their room or go to sleep before they start on camera again. But when I get a break I have to be doing school. It makes the days more exhausting. But I’d rather go to school and not be home-schooled just because like I love seeing my friends and having fun. I feel like I’d be bored at home doing home-school like on a computer.

What’s your biggest fear?

Spiders. I find a spider in my room, I can’t like sleep in my room for a week. Like I’ll go to the couch and just sleep there. Yeah, like the other day I found a spider in my room and oh my God, I was so scared. I went to take a shower and there wasn’t a spider in the shower but I was still scared of taking a shower. And heights. Like if it is really high up, like a plane, it’s not so scary, but if I’m like in a building. Like, let’s say the Empire State Building, and looking over, I’m scared of that.

Who is your favorite co-star on “One Day at a Time?”

They’re going to get mad at me if I choose. OK, so all of them, they’re like my real family. I have such a different connection with each of them that it’s just amazing to work with them. And that’s what makes us a family, since the first time that I met them. And I love all of them like a real family. And it’s been amazing to work with all of them. I really can’t choose between any because I mean honestly, I mean Todd Grannell, Isabella Gomez, Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, everyone that I’ve been able to work with on that show, has been amazing and has changed my life forever. But I feel like someone that has impacted me a lot and that was an honor to be able to work with, was Rita Moreno, who plays my grandmother on the show. Not only because she’s Puerto Rican but because she’s done so much in her life that has been inspiring to other young girls and to Puerto Rico. And so in everything that she’s done in her career and how she’s still working is so amazing, and that now she’s like my real grandma, and I’ll call her. And just laugh with her. Or make jokes on the set. So yeah, that was a really cool moment to be able to work with her. Because she has the best tips and she’s an amazing actress. And she’s really, really funny.

Do you have any pets?

Yes. I have one pet. His name is Brokie. And he’s my dog. He’s like little and fluffy. He’s really, really cute. When we got him, he was like really small, but then he like got big, but not too big. I’ve had other dogs before, but this is him. He’s really fluffy there and with a lot of hair. But he’s actually really skinny and it’s all hair. I’ve always had dogs in my life. I’ve never had a fish or anything else that I remember.

How long are your work days?

I am 15. When you’re a kid and you act, the most you can work a day is 9 1/2 hours. Each day, you have to do at least three hours of school. They’re very long days. 

When you were filming the movie, “Breakthrough,” did you get to meet Steph Curry who was the executive producer on the film?

Yes. I met Steph Curry twice. The first time was amazing, and it was actually a coincidence. My mom works at the offices at Sony Picture Studios. And Steph Curry’s office is there, too. One day, I went to visit and Steph Curry’s work partners saw me and they’re like oh my God, you’re the kid that’s in our movie. They asked if they could take a picture with me. And they said I have to meet Steph Curry. They told me he’s in town right here, so they set up a meeting. I went to meet him, and it was amazing. I’m such a huge fan and because I love basketball in real life. It was weird just meeting your idol and someone that’s so talented and one of the best basketball players in the world right now. It didn’t feel real. But he’s such a humble person that it’s just like talking to any other guy. And we just talked about life and not about the movie, which was the best. A couple weeks later, with the whole cast and everyone from “Breakthrough,” we went to see him play at a game. It was Lakers vs. Warriors. We went down to the court and hung out with him for a while.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

 In 10 years I’m going to be 25. That’s weird. I really want to go to college. I want to study business because not only do I love acting, but I also want to be able to eventually have my own clothing line because I also love fashion. So I do want to be able to do that, like people like Virgil Abloh, who has inspired me to be able to still be acting if it keeps bringing me opportunities, but also be able to be multitalented or successful in my other passions such as fashion or producing in the business. And even basketball. Because I love basketball, and it’s been my favorite sport since I was little. 

Jean Mahland and Sharon Mor’s fourth-grade class, Lawrence Elementary School

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