Bayardo De Murguia brings the Latin bad boy vibe to the new Netflix series, Tiny Pretty Things.
Based on the book by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, Tiny Pretty Things is set in the world of an elite ballet academy and charts the rise and fall of young adults who live far from their homes, each standing on the verge of greatness or ruin. As Chicago’s only elite dance school, the Archer School of Ballet serves as the company school for the city’s renowned professional company: City Works Ballet. The Archer School is an oasis for an array of dancers: rich and poor, from north and south, and a range of backgrounds. Yet they all share a rare talent and passion for dance, a loyal sense of community… and when it comes to their dreams, no Plan B.
I had the opportunity to speak to Bayardo De Murguia back in October to discuss Tiny Pretty Things. He shared a little about his character, Ramon and his experience jumping into the world of ballet. In addition, he gave a little background story about how he found acting.
Nancy Tapia: It’s a pleasure to speak with you. We get to talk about Tiny Pretty Things, which is a little mysterious. So what can you tell us about Ramon?
Bayardo De Murguia: Yeah, Tiny Pretty Things is an original Netflix series. We will be premiering December 14th. The show is based off a book that exists that’s been out for a couple of years. And we basically adapted from the book and is about what happens at a prestigious ballet Academy in Chicago and the rise and fall of all the young adults who go dance at the Academy and their lives.
So Ramon Costa is my character and I am basically an ex student that has a lot of history at the Academy. I get brought into choreographing something for that year. As you get to meet me, you get to learn about my history, what I did when I was there as a student. And then I basically push all of these students and get a lot out of them using kind of nontraditional unorthodox methods. It’s a lot of fun.
Nancy Tapia: Ah, soo are you a little bit of a rebel?
Bayardo De Murguia: Yes. I basically am like the bad boy dancer turned choreographer. My background on the show is that I’m Cuban-American, first generation and I kind of am the person that doesn’t like the elite and the traditional. So I hate all that. And so I basically like to push everything up on its head and mess with everything.
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Nancy Tapia: So you’re going to be causing some turmoil in there.
Bayardo De Murguia: Could possibly, yes. Haha…
Nancy Tapia: Haha, okay. I did check you out on Instagram and on your stories you’re at the Archer School of Ballet. So this was part of the process?
Bayardo De Murguia: The Archer School of Ballet is fictitious. So even though on the stories, you do see the Archer School of Ballet, but that’s just stuff that I was doing on set and stuff. But that’s where it takes place. There is no Archer School of Ballet that’s really in Chicago, although that Archer of school is reflective of a lot of prestigious dance companies in the US and around the world.
Nancy Tapia: I see. Did you go through choreographies and get in some dancing moves in before filming?
Bayardo De Murguia: Oh yeah. Definitely. One of the things that our show prides on is the fact that everyone does their own dancing, so you will see me dance. And as far as everyone does when I’m teaching. But also every one of my cast mates are all skilled, amazing dancers in addition to great actors. We really tried hard to accurately depict the dancing because sometimes when you see movies and shows that are based on dancing, either the dancing is amazing, but the acting kind of sucks or the acting’s amazing and the dancing you can tell it’s not them. When you watch our show, it’s all of us doing everything. We had world-renowned choreographers come in to do different parts of the dances in the show. In addition, Jennifer Nichols was our resident ballet choreographer.
So we were super precise and all that. Besides dancing salsa in the kitchen with my mom, I didn’t have much of a dance background.
Nancy Tapia: I was going to ask if any previous skills helped.
Bayardo De Murguia: Yeah. I do have experience in fighting and stunts. So I do have movement experience, but the world of ballet was completely new to me. So for about a month before we started filming last year, we all had dance rehearsal and I would partake with what I could. My bar technique is pretty decent, but once we were doing floor stuff, I kind of…We just watched on the sidelines, but I did learn a lot. I studied from every choreographer that came in to teach everybody. I would also kind of pick and be a sponge whenever I would watch and kind of observe. The final product, once you see the season, all the dancing is so beautiful. It’s really good.
Nancy Tapia: So when you read the script, did you feel at all intimidated since it involved dancing? I mean, it’s not just regular dancing, it’s ballet.
Bayardo De Murguia: Yeah. It was very intimidating. I’ll be honest, I even bought one of those ballet dummies books (chuckles). Because a lot of my castmates have danced on Broadway. The casting process brought people from all over. So there’s someone from the UK, from Chicago, New York, LA and Canada. So I just wanted to work as hard as I could to show up and have some knowledge. It was intimidating because for some of my castmates, ballet is something that they already do really well. For me it was something that was brand new, but I also just wanted to work my butt off to be able to represent accurately.
But everyone was still nice and inviting anyways and always willing to teach. It was cool to be amongst a casting crew and family that everybody just helped each other out. So as we went on with the shoots, it got easier and easier. Initially I was, “Oh my God, I don’t even know if I can do this.” But then it was cool, haha…
Nancy Tapia: You are definitely a trooper! So let’s talk about you. You’ve worked on television and film commercials. You’ve been doing voice overs. Can you share a little bit about the voiceover?
Bayardo De Murguia: Yeah. So when I was a little kid my family immigrated from Mexico and I spent my childhood in Tijuana and then I moved to the US when I was young. So one of the biggest things for me that influenced me was playing video games and watching cartoons. So as I learned how to speak English, I would mimic everything that I heard on video games and on TV. Once I decided that I wanted to pursue my career in acting, voiceover was something that always intrigued me and I would love to do. So when I first moved to LA, in the same way that you pursue TV and film, you get to do commercials and all that. I also took classes in voiceover and slowly started working with that in commercials and stuff.
One of my advantages is that I speak fluent Spanish. So that helps. But in the last few years, I’ve been very thankful that I’ve gotten some good opportunities to work on stuff. Most recently, the Fast & Furious Spy Racers, from animated Dreamworks on Netflix. I worked on a Disney project called Goldie and Bear, where I got to play a really fun troll.
Then a couple of video games, which is great. Then I have one other thing that is going to be announced sometime later this year, but it’s an animated thing that has to do with the video game world. So it’s very exciting. But voiceover to me has always been so much fun because you get to know what you have as a voice, but also you get to just act like a kid (chuckles), just have so much fun. It just reminds me of when I was a kid, mimicking voices and video games and doing all that. So the fact that I can get to do that now, I just love it. It’s so much fun.
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Nancy Tapia: What made you want to pursue an acting career here in Hollywood versus to maybe in Mexico City, which is a huge platform for Latin America? I mean, you have Televisa.
Bayardo De Murguia: I found acting when I was in college, when I was studying at the University of San Diego. I was already in my early twenties. So for me, I never really had someone to be like, maybe you should do this. It was just kind of more learning everything on my own. Even when I told my parents, “Hey, I wanted to pursue acting.” My mom was like, “Mijo like what, Telenovelas?”
Nancy Tapia: Haha…
Bayardo De Murguia: I’m like, “I don’t know.” My mom would just be like, “Okay, well, if that’s what you want to do, just work hard and stay passionate and be a good person. And don’t suck” (chuckles). So I just had kind of learned everything on my own and I never really knew that I could take advantage of the fact that I spoke Spanish until I actually moved to LA.
And that was kind of just the route that I did. Then as an actor, you basically start discovering your brands and who you are and who you are as a person. It wasn’t until I was in LA that I started exploring more and taking advantage of my Spanish speaking. So that’s why it was LA first. Then also I was raised mostly here as if I was raised in Mexico as well as a kid. So that was a brand, a total different world for me and LA was just a little bit easier.
Nancy Tapia: I see. Well, thank you for your time and maybe in the future we’ll be talking about something new and para entonces poder hacer una entrevista en español.
Bayardo De Murguia: Yeah, of course.
Nancy Tapia: We’re definitely going to be tuning in. I am personally curious about Tiny Pretty Things. Just out of curiosity to finalize, does it feel a little a Cruel Intentions vibe with maybe Gossip Girl?
Bayardo De Murguia: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s often been described as a mix between Pretty Little Liars and Black Swan, which is very accurate, but I would add Gossip Girl in there too, for sure.
If you’re a fan of 13 Reasons Why, Riverdale, those kind of young adult shows on Netflix we’re very much on par with that. But again, the dancing is so beautiful and I think it’s going to appeal to a lot of people outside of the young adult world. So I think just as a whole, it’s so well-written, very timely. But it also has elements like soapy, sexy steam. So, yeah. It’s just going to be great.
Nancy Tapia: Great. We’ll look forward to it and have a great weekend and thank you for the time.
Bayardo De Murguia: You too. Thank you so much.
Pretty Little Liars is available on Netflix today!