"It is important to show that immigrants are human": Rafael De La Fuente on playing the edgy Sammy Jo in the 'Dynasty' reboot
Fuente opens up about how he found a connection with the character and how great it feels to be able to represent so many different communities through one platform.
For all the viewers of the new Dynasty reboot, there's no character as intriguing yet enjoyable as Sam Jones. Always full of surprises, Jones is one of the most loved personas in the highly drama-packed and intense show, Dynasty. And the same goes for Rafael De La Fuente, the amazing man who is behind the role of the charismatic Sam Jones.
Sam Jones, also known as Sammy Jo, was previously played by Heather Locklear in the original Dynasty, a role which is now being reprised by the multi-talented De La Fuente. Sam is openly gay and is also Steven Carrington's love interest, and both hoped to be married by the end of the first season. But if there's anything we know about the show, it's that it comes with a lot of surprises.
An avid animal lover, Fuente claims to be a nerd ever since he was a little boy. Also, it is his love for food which often makes him plan his trips around places which are known for their cuisines. Although he has acted in television for the most part of his career, his favorite movie genres are fantasy and sci-fi, something he literally swears by.
In an exclusive interview with Meaww, Fuente talks about his take on the role of Sam Jones, how it is working in different television formats, and what to look forward to in the upcoming episodes of the reboot of the popular 1981 soap opera.
You've acted in a Nickelodeon show, a telenovela, and now a mainstream show like Dynasty. What would you say is the difference between the three formats?
A lot of people have this confusion that I've had experience in telenovelas because it is on the Internet, but the truth is that I did only two episodes for that format. As for the Nickelodeon show, it was a Latin American show which was a cross between a telenovela and a sitcom. I think the difference between these formats is that the Nickelodeon was for a much younger audience, while Dynasty, being a prime time show, is for a more mature and grounded audience.
I think that in the end, you always have to approach the work from a place of truth, and the acting process is the same regardless of what genre or format that you're working on.
So what is next on the cards for Sammy Jo on the show? Is his marriage something viewers can look forward to?
Well, there's definitely a wedding happening at the season finale, but also, there's a lot of changes coming. However, the core of the character is going to remain a same. And all the things that make Dynasty: the drama, the comedy, the cliffhangers, it's all going be there, with a few slight changes that we hope the audience will love and appreciate.
What was it like to play a character like Sam Jones? Did you find a common connection with him when you first read the script?
Well, I immediately found that the character resonated with me because for a while now I have been wanting to play an edgier role, and I like the way that he's often misunderstood and that he has dubious methods of going about his business, but in the end, he has a good heart. He's just had a really rough upbringing, and he's had to do the best he can to survive the horrible family dynamics he's been through..leaving a country in turmoil, but, at the end of the day, he's a good guy. He just misbehaves sometimes, but he has a good heart. Characters like that, they're fun to play, and I was really excited when I read the script.
Personally, I feel it's always gratifying to give voice to communities like the LGBTQ community, the immigrant community in the US, and the Latino community, so yeah, I am really excited to play a character like this.
How important was it for you to do justice to a character like Sam, especially because of his sexuality in the current socio-political scenario?
A key part of why I am very passionate about my career in acting is because it can inflict a change in the world, and inspire people to do good, you know? And given the current political climate, with regards to immigration, for example, it is very important for me to show that immigrants are human..they're just people that are trying to survive, especially because they come from places that are in political turmoil, like Venezuela, since I actually am from the country.
Also, the LGBTQ community is often misrepresented or under-represented on TV and in the media in general, just being one more actor playing a gay role, and having the community be grateful that they have more presence and more representation on TV, I know that I am grateful for it, and I'm really happy to be one of the actors that are out there, pushing that and making sure that we all have a say in the media, because we all want to have a say and be a part of the conversation without being excluded. It's an immense privilege for me to be able to do all that.
A lot of viewers perceive Sam Jones' character to be one of a 'gold-digger'. Do you feel that the description is apt for the role?
I understand why a lot of people would have thought that way, and I think that initially, he was trying to latch on to this family because he had struggled so much and because he did not have a sense of direction. But as the season goes along, he is actually a guy that was kind of lost in his life and didn't know what to do, where to start, how to deal with his demons.
But through the season, through his relationship with Steven, as he gets closer to his aunt, as well as his relationship with Anders, we see that he's actually not a bad guy, just that he doesn't know where to start, what to do, so he just needs a chance to do the right thing. I think that we'll definitely see that as the show moves on.
I also think that he's given the family really good things. Since the family lives in this opulence, they are a little out of touch with common folk and reality, and I feel like he's brought that to the table. I feel like he's brought the heart and soul to the Carrington Manor.
Sam has had his run-in with Cristal and her past through the season, so how is that going to affect the relationship between Cristal and Sam in the upcoming episodes? Is there going to be still some conflict, or has it all been resolved?
I haven't really read much of what is to come, but I know things broadly. But the relationship that Sam and Cristal have, it's a beautiful one. They have always been there for each other, and Cristal has been a pivotal figure for Sam. I think that regardless of the conflicts and miscommunications that happen in their day-to-day lives, at the end of the day, they definitely love each other and they're definitely going to have each other's back always.
But at the same time, it is Dynasty, so there's one thing we can expect, and that is drama!
Apart from being about the opulence and family politics, Dynasty also has made a name for itself with regards to its fashion forwardness. What do you have to say about Sam's wardrobe in that sense? Is there anything that you like/do not like about his style?
One of my favorite things about the show is that we get to play dress up! We get to collaborate with our amazing costume designer, Meredith Markworth-Pollack. She's super talented, and also really open to co-creating with us, so that is a ton of fun.
And also, the opportunity to wear crazy outfits that I would maybe not wear in my personal life, but I get to wear on the show, that has been a lot of fun too. And all of that helps me play the character better, (because) once I put the wardrobe on, it really just gets me in the space and in the truth of the character.
Moreover, I have adopted a few tips from (Sammy's) wardrobe...And I think I have become edgier in my style since I have adopted from Sammy...Like I bought a pair of leopard sneakers the other day, and it's just so fun to explore and have fun with that, and we can definitely expect for more of that.
But there's definitely going to be an evolution in every aspect, even fashion, in the second season, and I'm really excited to see that.
The original Dynasty lasted for nine whole seasons before it was over, so what are your hopes for the current reboot? How do you see the show going forward?
Look, I am loving the show..i love the cast and crew members, and we've all become such good friends. I would be happy to do this for a couple of more years...if we got to do even five seasons of Dynasty, I would be so, so happy. It's an amazing set, an amazing crew, a great group of actors, and our showrunner is a wonderful person...so it's a dream job, really, and I would love to keep going.
Also, people seem to really love it, and are excited about it! So hopefully that will be the case, and we will keep making a show that people love and hopefully, we'll keep doing it for a year or so.
We know you're an amazing dancer IRL. So is that an aspect which we will also see on the show through Sam Jones' character?
Well, people love it, I love it, and the writers love it too...So I really hope they write more dancing and singing scenes! Because who doesn't love a musical moment, right?
The Christmas scene where Sammy and Cristal share a dance, as well as the engagement party where Sammy and Steven share the floor...these were some of my most favorite scenes to shoot, so I am definitely hoping for more of that.
And I think it might be coming because everyone really enjoyed it, so why not bring it back, you know?