STOMP THE YARD
An Interview with Laz Alonso
By Kam Williams
January 8, 2007
Born to Cuban parents who immigrated to the States and settled in Washington, DC with hopes of giving their only offspring a better life, Laz Alonso is proud to be the first generation American in his family. From an early age, he always wanted to be an actor, and he remembers entertaining himself as a child by playing different characters and doing scenes, even standing in front of a mirror and practicing making himself cry.
However, because his mother and father had risked everything to come to America, Laz took a very practical route to showbiz, attending Howard University School to study Marketing. After graduation, he first worked on Wall Street as an investment banker, before starting his own business with some partners. Eventually, he found the time to explore his passion for acting, and it wasn’t long before he began finding work in commercials and videos.
Latre, along came TV, where his credits include guest-starring roles on “CSI: Miami,” “The Practice,” “Navy: NCIS” and “Eyes.” On the big screen, he’s appeared in Constantine, All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos, Disappearing Acts, and a role in the ensemble cast of Jarhead, opposite Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal. When not acting, Laz devotes considerable time to music, having studied classical piano for seven years. One of his favorite pastimes is playing reggaeton, combining the best of his two cultures, hip-hop and salsa to make some fierce beats that has all who listen, shaking and sweating to the music. Laz’s other passion is philanthropy, his charity for the children of single-parents that he’s getting off the ground. This emerging star’s latest film is Stomp the Yard where he portrays a frat boy named Zeke at a black college in Atlanta. In February, you’ll be able to catch Laz in a starring role in Captivity, a psychological thriller in which
he plays a detective on the trail of a serial killer.
Kam Williams: Thanks for the interview.
Laz Alonso: My pleasure, thank you!
KW: You were born in Cuba. Do you still have any memories of Cuba?
LA: I was actually born in D.C. but I'm the first American in my family. I do have great memories of Cuba. I visited all the time as a child and have a bigger family there than I do here in the states. All of my relatives there are my age so it's difficult because they are the ones that I have the most in common with.
KW: Before you headed west to take a shot at showbiz in Hollywood, you were working as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch on Wall Street. How hard was it to quit your day job to chase your dream?
LA: It wasn't hard at all, I hated Wall Street! Actually it wasn't that I hated it, but when you know you're doing something that isn't your passion, it feels like you're wasting time regardless of the money you're making.
KW: How long did it take for you to break into show business? Did you ever think of
LA: I never thought of quitting because I knew I was living my dream and whenever I would be going through hard times, I would get a sign, a job, to keep me focused and remind me that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.
KW: What TV commercials did you appear in?
LA: A bunch, Burger King, Lincoln Navigator, Budweiser, Pontiac, Outback Steakhouse.... The list goes on...
KW: You eventually found steady work both on TV and in movies, but starring in Stomp the Yard should make this your breakout role. What interested you in this picture?
LA: Not sure if this will truly be a breakout role, being that I'm not carrying the film, but I am looking forward to seeing the final product. I really liked the project...it's a black college film and being a Spike Lee fan, I've always wanted to be in a movie which reminds me of the genre that made him popular.
KW: Tell me a little about the film.
LA: It's a coming of age story about a kid growing up in LA and really into dancing and battling. He gets into some trouble and his parents send him to Atlanta to live with his grandparents and they enroll him in school where he sees that life is a lot different from what he's used to. That's when the drama really begins!
KW: What's your character like?
LA: I like my character because he's a leader. He's the head of his fraternity and keeps everybody in check. I like the positive nature of my character and what he represents, which is a positive black young man with values and class.
KW: What's the movie's message?
LA: That you can achieve greatness if you learn how to work together.
KW: What sort of audience do you expect Stomp the Yard to appeal to?
LA: High schoolers and anyone who has attended college. Even people who haven't, they will connect to the storyline because there are so many issues which relate to acceptance, romance, dance, competition and winning.
KW: I know you like to play music in your free time. What's the name of your band?
LA: I actually produce music which is also a passion of mine. Karma Kid Entertainment.
KW: How would you describe the type of music do you play?
LA: Hip Hop and Reggaeton. The Latin influence comes through in all my music)
KW: Do you have a CD?
LA: I have one filled with tracks just waiting for rappers to bring them to life!
KW: The Jimmy Bayan question. Where in LA do you live?
LA: I'm in a top secret cave similar to the one Batman dwells in! [LOL]
KW: What advice do you have for an aspiring actor hoping to follow in your footsteps?
LA: To sincerely work from the heart. Once you can make another’s words sound and feel like they're your own you are putting heart in your work.
KW: Do you have a blog at MySpace or Facebook where fans can hook-up with you?
LA: www.myspace.com/lazalonso. Be my friend please? [LOL]
KW: Thanks for the time, bro.
LA: The pleasure was all mine, thanks again!