Mark Valeriano is an actor who appears in the web series #CaptchaLA; here is a link to his reel:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: I had the most incredible, life changing experience when I was in school at FAU in Boca Raton FL. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, I was just going to school for a communication degree and then I found this opportunity to be a feature extra on Craigslist. When I showed up to the location they put me in basketball attire to play ball with Lil Romeo on the Miami heat court along with the rest of the cast of the reboot of Charlie’s angels. Which ended up getting cancelled, but when I was on set meeting all of them and watching this “whole thing” happening, it clicked in my brain. “This is what I am going to do the rest of my life.” And from that day until this very moment I have been working on this career non stop day after day and I absolutely love it.
Q: What is #CaptchaLA about?
A: #CaptchaLA is an Instagram series that is currently in the states of being picked up so we can finish the rest of the first season. But we shot ten episodes all going to be a minute long for viewers on Instagram. Which I believe is a brilliant idea. When I got brought on to play “Mark” I was so stoked. The audition was different than many others but I loved the concept and loved my character. It follows two sets of friends living in LA and how they end up coming together. I don’t want to release too much now as we have so much planned for the future! Kareem Cox (Director) in my opinion has struck gold with this idea.
Q: What role do you play?
A: So I play, ironically, “Mark” which was a perfect fit. I honestly like when my character name is my own name. I play the goof who thinks he’s too cool for school. He thinks he has a ton of game and in some ways I think he does. At least the confidence is there. But it isn’t always received well. But that doesn’t bother him. If one thing or move doesn’t work there’s ten more where that came from. Kind of douche but in a way that you still root for. Or at least I do. Definitely a character I connect with when I’m in my zone.
Q: What common characteristics do you share with the character?
A: The common characteristics I share with my character are almost a mirror image. I am pretty much a comic relief character, always messing around thinking I’m cooler than I actually am but do have confidence in myself. It’s so fun because I get to goof around on set which is “in character” the whole time. And Kareem allows us to improv which I wish I could do all day long!
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your acting?
A: My day job is cashier/food prep for a vegan cafe called Fala Bar. We have two locations at the moment and I bounce in between both: one on Abbot Kinney the other on Melrose. Both locations are so dope and have different customers, but it is the regulars that I love. So many characters so much life and when you meet around food everyone is in a great mood! Our food I will say hands down is amazing. Nearly everything is made in house and I do believe we make it with love. If you get a chance please stop in. Look out for me and I’ll make sure to give you that neighborhood discount! My job influences my acting in that I am constantly interacting with people. All day long. And how their experience is relies on me being able to adapt to whatever they are feeling. It allows me to examine and explore different types of people every shift. I am constantly learning new things from our customers and from the people I work with, which I believe is important just in life. Always being open to learning and growing as a person.
Q: Are vegans better or worse tippers than meat eaters?
A: I can say, AT THE MOMENT, that from my experience meat eaters tip better0_o I use to work at a different cafe, which went out of business, but tips were boomin there. Here not so much. Just being honest. But the free food offer makes up for it for sure;_)
Q: Of all the characters you have played with whom do you have the least in common?
A: Of every character I have ever played I am not sure I can say any have really been of least in commonality. I believe every character that I’ve played has slightly been similar to myself. I am still very young but have experienced so much in my life and that allows me to explore those things and feelings over and over again and relive them in a new light. Which is amazing. I believe the reason I book the roles that I do is because I can make them all very personal and can feel what they are going through. Which allows me to tell their story with real honesty. And I love as well. I have come to terms with the fact that any experience you have good or “bad” is ultimately great and very necessary to our growth not only as an actor but as a human being.
Q: What is your strangest Los Angeles story?
A: Strangest LA story… Wow, this is tough. I have been out here for two and a half years now and it feels like a lifetime. So many first times, so many new things but the strangest would have to be a dream I had at my old apartment. I was sleeping on my stomach when I felt someone grab my shoulder and pull me over out of bed and when I opened my eyes to see the person it was Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I physically felt the grab and pull and he was standing in the middle of my room, and then I woke up. I didn’t really know how to react besides getting up to turn the light off then falling back asleep. Then I woke up just opening my eyes and noticed a dark shadow in the corner of my room. I tried not to look at it as I could feel it’s presence and thought if I locked eyes it would consume me. Out of my periferials I saw it move to the bottom of my bed in which I began to pray hard until I fell back asleep. Only to later waking up standing in the middle of my room arms out to the sides and my head looking straight up at the ceiling. I was so scared and freaked out for two days I felt so out of it. I didn’t even know who to tell until I finally talked with a best friend from home that really brought me out of my funk. I have very intense dreams every night but this was by far the most intense and physical as well.
Q: If you could change one thing about the film industry, what would it be?
A: If I could change one thing about the film industry it would have to be that we should focus more on character driven movies for the theatre. It feels as if there has been this shift or change to mainly focus on the effects or the so out of the ordinary or fantasy instead of grounding these characters. Because I believe every single person goes through so much in their life and to not touch on many of these things or to leave out so much emotion it just seems too simple. Every one is so complex I guess I just think we should explore that more, instead of some of the storylines or plots that we see hit the theater every Friday. That seems very generalized but movies like “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” or “A Guide to Knowing Your Saints” or even “127 Hours” are just real people going through real life situations. And I love to watch and try to connect with that.
Q: What makes for a compelling web series?
A: To me, what makes a compelling web series is one that has strong characters. You need to dig deep with each character because again, watching someone that is real do nearly anything can be entertainment. If we follow a character that knows exactly who they are then it allows us to go on a journey with them or almost as them. Great actors I believe can pull this off. And that’s why we watch them. For me at the moment, “Peaky Blinders” does this impeccably. You get to know who these characters are from the immediate beginning and we want to see what they go through without taking a break…#bingewatchtilltheend
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.