'The Samuel Project' star Ryan Ochoa reveals his desire to be behind the camera and to work with Dwayne Johnson
Ryan Ochoa, 22, who stars in 'The Samuel Project' alongside Hal Linden, catches up with Meaww to talk about his family and future
Ryan Ochoa has been in front of the camera since he was eight years old. Now at 22, the California native played a leading role in an indie drama film 'The Samuel Project,' and has generated quite a buzz. Meaww catches up with the rising star who is a band member of the group Ochoa Boyz that produces “hip-hop-hype” genre of music.
The holocaust-inspired drama 'The Samuel Project' starring Hal Linden and Ryan Ochoa was released on September 28 by AMC Theatres where Ochoa plays Eli, a teenager who gets to know his grandfather Samuel for the first time when he makes him the subject of a senior year animated art project.
While Ochoa who is close-knit with his large family could not relate much to Eli, he enjoyed exploring the distance between generations which is not uncommon today. The Disney and Nickelodeon TV star also shared anecdotes of working on set with legendary actors and his dreams of acting alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who actually follows him on Instagram.
You play the role of a high school senior Eli who dreams of becoming an artist. Tell us more about him. Do you identify yourself with the character?
I play Eli Bergman, the son of a hard-working real-estate broker who is so busy with work that he barely has time for his kid. Eli also has a grandfather who he ends up building a relationship with after getting assigned an art project in school. Eli is a passionate artist, determined to do what it takes to follow his dreams. The relationships that Eli has with his elders is not an uncommon one in families today, but my family is very close so it was interesting to explore that distance between generations.
We are really looking forward to 'The Samuel Project.' Can you tell us what the title means and give us a gist of the film?
I do not want to spoil it for you, especially since you are excited to see it (laughs), but the title is ultimately the name of the project that Eli does about his grandfather Samuel. A project that ends up bringing not only him and his grandfather together, but Eli’s whole family.
How was your experience acting alongside stars like Liza Lapira and Hal Linden? Do share some off-screen anecdotes.
I had the honor to co-star alongside a handful of well-respected talents. Our entire cast has been working for so long, have crazy amounts of credits, and I was a sponge on set soaking in all the knowledge I could from them. Obviously, I got to work with one of the best, Hal Linden. A legend who has done it all! Cool story about Hal actually involves the film too! I remember we were sitting around on set and my feet were up on the table and he gave me a quick look curious why my feet were up on the table, and guess what? That ended up being added into the film! Liza is outstanding, I kept asking her what her preparation process was like when she has a bunch of lines in a scene just like she does in ours (laughs).
Your first big acting job was when you were just eight years old. Tell us about your experience and how did it come to be?
Oh, it was so long ago, how can I remember (laughs)! My first job was for a commercial for Greyhound buses! It was different than most commercials I did after because we filmed the whole commercial driving around in a bus. No location, no set, we just drove around and the cameras were inside filming.
You've played many roles in films and TV alike. What has been your favorite role so far and what role would you like to do next?
I have fortunately been a part of many fun, interesting, and creative projects with many talented and passionate people in my career so far. 'The Perfect Game' was special because it was my first major feature film and, in 'A Christmas Carol', I got to work with many big named stars like Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman. I will always love my time on 'iCarly' and 'Pair of Kings' because of the casts and those helped me build a name for myself. 'Mostly Ghostly 2' was my first leading role! There are so many that have their own unique thing that I will carry with me.
Which actor or director would you love to work with and why?
I would love to co-star alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and/or Leo DiCaprio! Recently, I finally got to meet DJ on set of 'Disney’s Jungle Cruise' and he followed me on Insta, so we are one step closer (laughs). As far as directors, the top three are Scorsese, Spielberg, and Michael Bay! Our director of 'The Samuel Project,' Marc Fusco, worked for Spielberg for many years so you never know.
We have also heard that your band Ochoa Boyz's music features in 'The Samuel Project.' Tell us about what we will be listening to in the film.
Yes! It still is wild to me to be able to talk about this. My brothers and I are very excited and grateful that Marc believed in our music to incorporate in the film. We call our genre “hip-hop-hype” so there is a certain scene where we showcase the type of music our generation is listening to, and The Ochoa Boyz are what audiences will hear! Insane!
You and three of your brothers form the band. Please tell us about you and your band's musical journey. How did it all start?
The musical industry is a whole other world! We have had our fair share of ups and downs because it is not easy, which is why getting the opportunity to have your music in a film is motivation to keep going. Our family is a tight-knit one, so the idea originated between us boys after deciding we wanted to pursue something together. The dream was to do a movie or show together, but that seemed too far away. We wanted to start something right then and it was a coincidence that all four of us wanted to do the same kind of music, so it seemed like the right move.
You and your brothers all share a similar career in acting and music. How's the environment at home? What happens when all of you come together off work?
Our family is pretty wild, and anytime family and friends come over, either they never want to leave or they are waiting to produce the reality show (laughs). We love to have fun, always creating and try to spend time as much time together outside of our “work” especially because we know one day who knows if we will live as close as we do now. I’ll say that when we are together, there is no doubt, and maybe an argument over who is the favorite sibling.
Your baby sister, Destiny, is adorable! Will she be joining her brothers' band and opt to act just like her siblings in the future?
My little princess may be the busiest girl I know! She is already acting and works pretty consistently for Disney Junior and has done a few national commercials. She spends her time doing gymnastics but also singing lessons, getting ready for her time to shine with us on stage!
What is your ultimate motto in life? What keeps you driven in what you do?
DREAM, WISH, BELIEVE! That is what I live by. My quote, but it is not just a quote, it is a way of living. It inspires me to be better, pushes me to be great, and reminds me that anything is possible when you “believe!” My Ryanators are starting to apply this to their life and I love hearing stories how it helped impact them somehow!
I am “Mr. Positive” and you can’t have that nickname for nothing. I look at the positive as much as possible, and the craft is what keeps me going. The inspiration I receive from others also drives me to maintain this mentality.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I just want to continue to get better and be a better person in all aspects. How can I be a better son, brother, artist, etc. As far as my career goes, I hope that my filmmaking career has really taken off where I have hopefully directed something of significance or that gets good buzz. I love being behind the camera as much as in front so we will see if that is in my future.
Is there anything you'd like to say before we end this interview?
I want to say thank you to all the people who have believed in me one way or another along this journey. This has been an insanely fun but also challenging path, filled with lots of rejection. So I want to tell everyone that when times get tough, you have to keep pushing and knocking down barriers because any given day things will turn around. Lastly, I hope you all enjoy my new film 'The Samuel Project' and connect with it in some way. This is a family film and I hope your family is reminded of how important it is to know your family history and where you came from.