Credit – Bobby Quillard
Henri Esteve returns to play Javier, a character introduced in the latest season of Freeform’s hit series Grown-ish. Esteve plays a grad student who gets close to Ana (Francia Raisa) and challenges her in ways she never imagined.
I connected with Henri Esteve via phoner to discuss Grown-ish and his excitement to be back on set. Esteve also shared a little bit about himself and how much he hopes to be a part of the Latin entertainment in the near future. Check out the full interview below…
Nancy Tapia: Well, let’s discuss Grown-ish. How Grown-ish are we feeling today?
Henri Esteve: Today? I have a cup of coffee in my hand and am going through emails. I feel pretty grown right now, but like this specific moment…
Nancy Tapia: Productive Friday, getting ready for the weekend.
Henri Esteve: You know what I mean? Trying to finish the week off strong.
Nancy Tapia: That’s right. Listen, can I ask you if the name, Javier is your lucky charm name?
Henri Esteve: Haha…it keeps coming up right now. I guess it is, I don’t know. I don’t know if I know Javier in real life. It’s crazy to think I don’t, growing up in Miami. But yeah, I think Javier ends up being my lucky charm name. I think I can get away with doing like a Xavi at some point. Then we can just switch up that IMDB a little bit.
Nancy Tapia: Yes! So let’s talk about Grown-ish. What was the one thing that attracted you to want to play Javi?
Henri Esteve: There were a few things. First and foremost is just the show. Kenya Barris and the way Grown-ish tackles these super important and prevalent issues that we’re dealing with that society is seen today. They’re are doing it in a really light handed way and making it funny, but yet exploring both sides of the situation. Which is also, I think, a thing Grown-ish does really well. It’s not a skewed perspective, which Javi ends up being the Republican perspective. For the minority Republican perspective, even more so, but yeah, and I grew up with people like Javi. There’s a lot of Cuban Republicans from Miami. So it’s an interesting political stance that I guess I wanted to explore.
Nancy Tapia: You’ve mention Javi as a bit of an activist. What would you say Henri is passionate about?
Henri Esteve: Activist wise?
Nancy Tapia: Yes.
Henri Esteve: Social justice at large. I think I have a really hard time witnessing injustice. I’m always on the front lines about mental health. It is a big one for me. I think just attacking the stigma behind it or around it. Specifically in LatinX communities. I feel like keeping your dirty laundry at home is really like that. I’m quoting my mother when I say, ‘keep your dirty laundry at home’ I feel like that’s just a standard.
Nancy Tapia: Haha…that’s so funny because I use that phrase all the time. Specially when it comes to social media, keep your dirty laundry at home!
Henri Esteve: Haha…did you get it through your mom?
Nancy Tapia: I got it from one of my high school best friends. He explained it to me and that was an awesome lesson, till today.
Henri Esteve: Yeah, especially, I think with social media that’s a great thing to stand behind to an extent, right? Like I’m also a big believer in the idea of, if I can talk about my own sort of struggles of things that everybody…I mean, not everybody, but things that people deal with and whether that’s like anxiety or depression or addiction touching my life, whatever it is. That could make the 13 year old kid dealing with it somewhere in Florida that feels super alone and confused and being like, “Yo, I don’t know who to talk to about this. I don’t know how to not feel weird and feel different”.
So yeah, if I could kind of take away some of my own shine, not that I’m shining as bright as I’d liked to, haha.. Anyways, if I should just dull that shine a little bit, I do think it’s beneficial to make anyone else feel like they’re not alone. That’s a big one for me.
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Nancy Tapia: Well, you are shining for a lot of us viewers.
Henri Esteve: Appreciate that.
Nancy Tapia: Right now you opened up the topic of mental health. Perhaps it’s a good time to ask about Todo Por Mi Familia. You’ve joined some other artists that have already stepped up and have showed support. Like Eugenio Derbez, former Miss Puerto Rico Dayanara Torres, Carlos Ponce, and Pedro Pascal. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Henri Esteve: They reached out and they had this hotline initiative that they were trying to help families get access to mental health during that time. I think it’s still going. That was kind of a one-off they had reached out. I guess they knew how much mental health matters to me and how I’ve kind of just spoken about it here and there. So they reached out and wanted to see if I would be willing to do my part. The other artists they had were amazing. I’m a huge Pedro fan so itself was pretty cool just to be next to him.
Nancy Tapia: Going back to Grown-ish, congratulations, you will be a part of Grown-ish for season four.
Henri Esteve: Oh, did they announce that?!
Nancy Tapia: Well, I know it, Was I not supposed to say? Haha…
Henri Esteve: No, no…I think you can say it. I didn’t know if it was common knowledge. Actually, they haven’t given me the rules.
Nancy Tapia: What can you share about that and how do you hope Javi develops or anything you can say?
Henri Esteve: I can say that the group at large is going to have to deal with, sort of just identity shifts within the group. People’s belief systems kind of shifted around and characters growing and maturing now, finally. I don’t even know that far in advance of Javi’s storyline. I know about four episodes in. I start filming on Monday.
Nancy Tapia: Congratulations!
Henri Esteve: Thanks.
Nancy Tapia: How do you feel about getting back out to work?
Henri Esteve: It’s been so long, haha…I can’t wait to just be on set again and actually act. We wrapped season three, I think November, 2019. So I haven’t acted in over a year at this point.
Nancy Tapia: The excitement!
Henri Esteve: Super excited, super excited. A little nervous. I might be a little rusty, but really excited to get out there.
Nancy Tapia: That’s great! Let’s talk a little bit the start of your career. When was that turning point in your life where you said, I want to be an actor. What was that one thing that triggered in your mind to take the big step?
Henri Esteve: The thing that triggered the idea of becoming an actor was…I don’t know how old I was. I don’t remember, I was young. I was too young to be watching HBO at the time and John Leguizamo had a one-man show called Sexaholix and it was on HBO. He had like an HBO special and I remember watching him on stage and that was kind of the first moment that I was like, I really want to do this. Then my mom like bursted into the room and heard some of the vulgarities coming out of John’s mouth and she was like, “Turn this off. Absolutely not. You’re not watching it”.
But that stuck with me, then John ended up turning into just a huge inspiration. The moment I actually went and started pursuing it, I was supposed to go to college in Boston. I had just finished high school, and I was going to go to Boston for college and get a communications degree. I still had this thing of wanting to act, but I hadn’t really gone for it. Then I was watching Dead Man Walking at my mom’s house in Miami when I made a decision, “I’m not, I’m not going to Boston. I’m going to New York and I am going to start acting”
Nancy Tapia: What kind of roles you are looking to play in the future?
Henri Esteve: I want to do things that really challenge me to transform. I think that’s sort of the benchmark for me when I feel like I’m doing good work. And really proud of my work if I can kind of disappear into something and become unrecognizable or at least feel like a very different person. So yeah, I just want to be challenged to have to get outside of myself. If there is a Benicio Del Toro then that is the direction that I’d want to go.
Nancy Tapia: Have you considered doing anything in the Latin market for future projects?
Henri Esteve: Yeah. I wish they’d call! Haha…!
Nancy Tapia: Haha…let’s put it out there. After all, you’re a Latin-Cuban.
Henri Esteve: Facts. That’s what I’m trying to tell people. I’m totally open to it. I’d love to. I’ve always had this weird thing and damn I’ve never really spoken about this before. I feel like with Latin projects, I end up looking to white a lot of times. A lot of times it ends up being a family task. It feels just like it doesn’t fit, which I’d love for that not to happen. For us to be able to have tasks that look a little less conventional necessarily. Like I look at my family and like and we go from blonde, blue eyes to completely dark and it’s all the same gene pool.
Nancy Tapia: Yeah.
Henri Esteve: I feel like there’s a lot of that in Latin families. I feel like that’s been a hurdle a little bit with, Latino projects, I would love for latino projects to start calling me.
Nancy Tapia: For being Cuban and from Miami, you have to have a telenovela on your resume.
Henri Esteve: Well, I was thinking more like indie. Haha…
Nancy Tapia: Oh, I’m putting you out there for a telenovela. Haha…
Henri Esteve: Indie Latin films. You’re thinking straight telenovela, haha…I don’t know if I could do the hours to be real with you. Those telenovela actors are on a marathon. They’re shooting an episode a day. It’s insane.
Nancy Tapia: But I do agree with you about the awareness in our Latin mix and show the mix of all different skin tones, colors, etc. One beautiful example was canceled unfortunately, The Baker and the Beauty.
Henri Esteve: Oh, did it get canceled?
Nancy Tapia: I believe it did. They were trying to get it picked up from another network, but I don’t know if that went through.
Henri Esteve: That sucks, I didn’t actually get to watch it, but I auditioned for it. I really liked Victor Rasuk I think he is really fun actor.
Nancy Tapia: Is there something you can share that you may be working on later on, besides Grown-ish that you can share?
Henri Esteve: There’s one thing that’s kind of in the mix, but it’s still not confirmed, but so I can’t say anything there.
Nancy Tapia: No problem. Maybe it’s better this way you don’t jinx it.
Henri Esteve: Yeah, maybe, hopefully it happens before you publish this and I’ll send you a text.
Nancy Tapia: Yes, congratulations with everything you’re doing. I really hope you get signed on for something where you get to represent the Spanish language.
Henri Esteve: I appreciate that, me too.
Nancy Tapia: All right. Well, you take care. Thank you. And thank you for your time. Have a great weekend and good luck with the shooting season four of Grown-ish.
Henri Esteve: All right. Thank you.
You can catch up on Grown-Ish on FreeForm and Hulu