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Khotan Fernandez

Immigrant Archive Project
Mexican actor, Khotan Fernandez starred in a number of leading Latin-American soap operas before breaking into Hollywood with roles in Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls and the USA Networks, Royal Pains. We caught up with Khotan in Miami where we discussed the difficulties of crossing over, the importance of breaking barriers, and the problems with our immigration system.
Show transcript
00:00
I have seen more successful stories here than anywhere else
00:03
in the world.
00:04
Immigrants come here with a dream to have a better life.
00:07
So they strive for their goals, I think, you know, um uh uh more
00:15
maybe than if they were to, to be uh in their native country
00:25
as a, as a Mexican born actor.
00:29
Now, right now, you are going to be in a program in the USA network
00:37
Tell me a little bit about that and how do you feel you're representing
00:40
your country doing that?
00:42
Well, um as a Mexican actor, I'm really proud to be uh on the
00:48
show, but I'm playing an, actually, I'm, I'm playing an Argentinian
00:53
so I'm not playing a Mexican, he's an Argentinian polo player
00:56
uh which was great, but I'm really grateful.
01:00
Um First of all, because I think they're starting to create
01:04
uh roles for Latins that are not the cliche role that we're
01:07
used to seeing them and, and, and not only like the comic relief
01:12
role.
01:13
Um But, you know, this is a uh uh a, you know, a character who
01:19
who's well traveled, who, you know, speaks different languages
01:22
and who's, who's, who's wealthy and, you know, who plays polo
01:25
you know, goes to the Hamptons for Polo season.
01:28
And, um, you know, so it's, it's great that writers are finally
01:34
stepping up to, uh write rules that I think, uh uh you know,
01:42
we could be more proud of.
01:43
And I think, uh I went, this is funny and I just recalled, um
01:49
I was shooting in, in Vegas, one of the episodes and, um, one
01:55
of the waiters uh came up to me who was from Mexico and he says
01:59
hey, it's so good to see you.
02:01
I remember you from your soaps in, in Mexico.
02:03
And I've been living in Vegas for a while.
02:05
I saw you in Royal Pains and I'm really proud of you.
02:08
And I said, oh, really?
02:09
Why?
02:10
And this is a waiter?
02:10
Well, because I love the fact that you're playing something
02:14
uh different that it's not, you know, the, the stereotype
02:18
role that we're, you know, that we're usually uh used to seeing
02:22
like uh Latinos and, and I said, really?
02:25
Are you?
02:25
Yeah, we, we need new role models.
02:27
He said, so I like that you're playing, you're playing a polo
02:30
player.
02:31
And this is a waiter telling me this, it's not, you know, they
02:34
always put us as guard in there saying not that there's anything
02:37
wrong with it.
02:38
He said, but what happens?
02:40
What, you know, why can we be doctors?
02:43
Why can we be uh you know, uh psychiatrists or or can we, or businessmen
02:49
or?
02:50
Um so when he told me that I said, oh, this was worth it.
02:54
This was definitely worth it.
02:57
You feel like you're breaking certain barriers?
02:59
Well, yeah, because he was proud that I was playing that type
03:02
of role.
03:03
Um So, you know, uh uh yes, I absolutely think that it's a, a
03:08
good time and that we're gonna see more and more of that and
03:12
they, uh you know, writers are going to incorporate Latinos
03:17
in, in TV.
03:18
And then on our main, in the mainstream uh I guess TV, uh in a
03:22
different light.
03:25
Um And in the soaps, I think it's like you're very dramatic
03:29
It's a very, just like it's a different tone.
03:32
But let me tell you something, uh American soap operas are
03:35
bad, I think even worse.
03:38
So don't criticize too much our soaps because I've seen the
03:41
American soaps, man.
03:42
And they, they, so they make fun of us.
03:48
Well, I think they should be watching your, their soaps too
03:51
because, and our women are hotter.
03:54
A absolutely.
03:56
Women are way harder on their soap operas for sure.
04:01
Um Tell me a little bit about the fact that how you feel as an
04:05
immigrant, being able to speak the language I think has helped
04:11
you a lot compared to other immigrants and other actors that
04:15
are striving in the US.
04:17
You were lucky enough to have lived in New York and in California
04:22
with your dad.
04:22
Tell me, incorporate all of that and tell me, oh yeah, it, it
04:25
it definitely helps, it definitely opens the door and, and
04:28
uh you can audition for, for different, you know, it, it's
04:31
it's a whole new world is opening up to me now.
04:36
Um and a whole new opportunities that I, I, you know, I was looking
04:40
for.
04:41
Um But yeah, I mean, II I did struggle a bit because I will tell
04:47
them, you know, I have to OK.
04:49
And you, do you have anything you can show us?
04:51
And I had like a lot of stuff from, from uh my soaps in Mexico
04:57
and Brazil and I would show them and, but then it's like, well
04:59
do you have anything in English?
05:01
And I was like, no, well, we need something in English and I
05:05
was like, well, can't you see, I, I, you know, I do speak it then
05:09
it's like, well, yeah, but we're gonna need some, some tape
05:13
you know.
05:13
So, um I mean, it's not, it's not that easy, you know, it's like
05:18
you, you uh this, this opportunity finally it came and, and
05:24
I had to audition like anyone else, you know, they, they flew
05:28
me in and I had to audition in front of the director, the producer
05:31
the actress and everything to really see, you know, if they
05:34
were gonna give me the shot.
05:35
But I'm thankful in the sense that, you know, I finally got
05:38
it and uh I think, um, because of speaking the language, I'm
05:44
not going to get more and more opportunities for sure.
05:47
Do you think you're in a country where there's a lot of opportunities
05:51
for immigrants?
05:52
Absolutely.
05:54
There is, I, I have seen more successful stories here than
05:57
anywhere else in the world, you know, unbelievable stories
06:02
People who, you know, just happen to have a, a good idea who
06:07
who are hard workers.
06:09
Um, you know, and, and, and it, it's incredible, uh you know
06:14
um how uh their passion to, to um uh you know, even like put
06:22
their kids through school or, or make them go to college or
06:27
um it, it, it, you know, as I said, a lot of immigrants come here
06:33
with a dream and the dream to be, I think, uh to have a better
06:37
life and that in itself is, is a motivation, a big motivation
06:43
that kind of resonates and, and kind of you have, you, you sometimes
06:47
I think because a lot of families are split and they leave families
06:52
behind.
06:52
I think sometimes they wanna make their families proud so
06:56
they strive for their goals, I think, you know, um uh uh more
07:03
maybe than if they were to, to be uh in their native country
07:07
Um Sometimes it helps to, to, uh you know, go to a different
07:14
country because sometimes, even though families and friends
07:18
are great, sometimes you, you can get in the comfort zone and
07:23
when you're outside your comfort zone and you say, OK, this
07:26
this is a great country but it, it's, it, it pushes you to be
07:31
independent and it pushes you also to work.
07:34
It's a country that it's beautiful to live in.
07:37
As long as you work.
07:39
I've always said that as long as you're in the bicycle and you're
07:43
out, it, it is a country that, yeah, you, you, you, it, it, it
07:48
it's a give and take very interesting uh uh dynamics there
07:55
knowing what, you know, today, what advice would you give
07:59
an immigrant coming to this country?
08:03
Um What I my advice would be to try to uh come to the right route
08:14
And I know that, that for some immigrants, that's very hard
08:18
and that's why we have so much uh so many issues with, with the
08:23
illegal immigrants and all that.
08:25
Um And the reason I say that because it, it pays off, uh and the
08:32
I would advise him as a fortress to try to come and do it the
08:39
right way first.
08:42
Um And I don't know, II I think that that issue is a, is a very
08:50
big and important issue that has to be addressed.
08:53
There, there needs to be uh I don't know, some, something that
08:59
that's gonna work out for.
09:02
Um you know, both people living here and both people who uh
09:06
sometimes just not necessarily want to uh actually live here
09:11
but just may want to come just for a period of time to work,
09:16
you know.
09:18
And, um, I, I'm not, I'm talking many ideas here but, but I'm
09:25
just, I'm recalling that, uh, it, it, like, for example, in
09:28
in California, you know, you have, um, a lot of jobs that really
09:34
Americans don't want to do.
09:37
They really don't.
09:38
The applications are there and people just don't, you know
09:41
and there are a lot of people that need that work and would
09:43
like to do that work and not necessarily would like to come
09:47
here illegally.
09:48
They will know if they would be able to come here uh legally
09:51
and then go back to your countries and, you know, just for,
09:54
for that uh period when they're needed.
09:57
I, I'm sure they would do that, you know, and that's why I know
10:00
there are a lot of reforms being uh and proposals out there
10:03
uh to work that out.
10:06
Does it hurt to see what's going on in your country and the people
10:09
that have to risk their lives?
10:12
That's why I'm saying what I'm saying?
10:13
It, it is, it, it's, it's, it's terrible what's happening
10:17
and that, you know, it could be avoided.
10:20
Uh You know, there's no need for so many uh killings and, and
10:25
to put so many people at risk, we, we need to create the right
10:30
symbiosis there.
10:32
So it works out for everyone uh in the end.
10:36
Uh you know, we're all on the same planet for a human race.
10:43
Uh you know, what will it mean to you to gain citizenship in
10:48
this country?
10:50
Well, um, I, I think for me, uh, to gain citizenship will, uh
10:55
would, uh be the right step uh, after, you know, living here
11:00
for, for the five years that you're supposed to live here.
11:04
And, you know, at that time I think I would really like to become
11:10
a citizen because that's the way I think I would finally feel
11:14
part of, of the, of, of this nation and, and, uh, you know, I
11:21
I want my voice to be heard 100% not 90% not 80% but 100%.
11:28
And if I, somebody can make a, you know, uh, um, help make a,
11:36
a change and I'm going to because I know where I come from and
11:41
uh, I know how, how, how difficult it is for so many people
11:45
and you don't, a lot of people don't realize how lucky they
11:47
are that, that they were born here and, uh, how hard it is for
11:51
people who were not born here, uh, to become a part of the system
11:56
legally.
11:58
You know, sometimes it, it's, uh, you know, it's an investment
12:03
that some people have to make, which is an important investment
12:07
So I'm not gonna take that for granted.
12:08
That's what I'm saying.
12:10
It was hard for me.
12:11
Uh So I can just imagine for, for other people.
12:14
So I'm not, I'm gonna, I'm not gonna waste that opportunity
12:16
That's what I'm saying.
12:19
What role would you like to, to take part in or see yourself
12:24
in, in the Anglo market?
12:28
Um I don't know, I would, I would love to generate opportunities
12:34
for other Latinos like myself someday.
12:38
What I mean by that is I would love to someday be also involved
12:42
in production and, and uh create work that, that would be a
12:49
dream of mine because I know a lot of people who, who, who like
12:54
that and I know I've struggled so, you know, somebody probably
12:58
you know, that understands that.
13:01
I'm sure what, uh be OK to giving, uh, you know, opportunities