Heart of Leon: Juan Bago
This past summer I reached out to Michael Diaz to support me in my social media awareness campaign for W.E.E.N. (Women In Entertainment Empowerment Network). He didn't know me from a hole in the wall but he was still willing to meet with this persistent little stranger. The Writer/Actor/ Producer/Director/ Community Board Member (sheesh! I know) asked me to meet him at an art exhibition that was taking place at the NoMAA Gallery in Washington Heights. What better way to meet this culturally conscious and creative individual. Founder of one of the premier Latino networking groups Bago Brunch, Michael Diaz (better known as Juan Bago) and President of Heights Entertainment, is a wonderful reflection of the acculturated Latino community in New York City. I recently met with him to pick his brain. Read on!
FL: I interviewed you because I believe that you're fearless. What does that mean to you?
Michael Diaz: It means looking at anything in life and not hesitating, not being scared and deterred.
FL: Is there anything that you fail at but keep trying?
Michael Diaz: My grammar [Laughs]. No for real! I try proof reading but I'm always going 90 miles per hour [Laughs].
FL: What’s your wildest dream?
Michael Diaz: To have my own city where everyone is really hairy and we embrace it. I think would of been possible before 80’s porn though. The trend for body hair removal changed everything [sad face].
FL: [Laughs] How do you describe your soul?
Michael Diaz: A very passionate soul that is still discovering itself with its purpose and path.
FL: What’s unique about you and your path?
Michael Diaz: I grew up in the suburbs and I was the only Latino in my town for years, so I was always different no matter what. As a child being different is not easy but at the same time it teaches you to feel great about the differences you have at an early age.
FL: What was your biggest dream as a kid? Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor/producer?
Michael Diaz: I just wanted to be a baseball player for the New York Mets. Growing up I was obsessed with sports. I played and watched it 24/7. I was a hyper kid and I was a huge Rafael Santana fan, he was a short stop for the Mets. I was a huge Met fan so there was no way that I was going to play for another team!
FL: WOW! That's pretty far from what you are today. Who inspires you?
Michael Diaz: John Leguizamo, Ben Stiller, Lin Manuel Miranda, my relatives and the common success stories. As an artist there are a few performers that you feel inspire you with their work, based on either performances or how they became successful. With John, his ability to entertain people for over an hour all by himself on stage is amazing. His energy and his great ability to be different characters is also amazing. With Lin, he is also a great lyricist and broke barriers with the success of “In The Heights” on Broadway, even when people thought it wasn't possible.
FL: You're very passionate. When did you realize that you were passionate and what was that?
Michael Diaz: It was as soon as I decided to do my first film. When I started not to sleep, worked crazy amount of hours and dealt with a lot of b.s. to get the project done and still wanted to keep going. That was it.
FL: What’s one thing that can't you live without and why?
Michael Diaz: My iPhone—social media and constant communication. Without my iPhone I'd feel like I have a missing limb. I sleep with iPhonia. Love you boo [kisses iPhone].
FL: This is a serious question--which seasoning can’t you live without?
Michael Diaz: I love Adobo. I’m waiting for Ben & Jerry’s to come out with an Adobo ice cream flavor [crosses fingers].
FL: [Laughs] I’m not sure about the ice cream, but I LOVE Adobo. If you could create your own seasoning what would you call it and what would it taste like?
Michael Diaz: It would be called Adokachu-Mayo. It would be a hybrid of Adobo/Ketchup/Mayo. It would taste like Dominican chimi heaven!
FL: [Laughs] How do you feel about all the changes in Washington Heights?
Michael Diaz: I think it’s something that can be embraced and worked with instead of feeling upset about. Life and communities change. It’s a natural thing. As long as we can keep the culture and maintain a voice and a niche, it will not be as bad as people fear.
FL: What projects can your fans and our community look forward to?
Michael Diaz: I've been working with a lot of behind the camera stuff this year. I will continue to do spoof music videos and I'm working on a fake reality show about me and a few friends starting a production company and the issues we go through. My next goal is to film my next full feature film [smiles].
To learn more about Micheal visit: http://heightsentertainment.com/