Interview with Jacob Vargas | Laughing is My Way of Living
When we are joyful, our emotional state affects the way we see and interact with the world. There is no better way for us to move into a more positive state of being than through laugh. Comedy has the power to make us smile in the face of those emotions opposite to how we want to feel. Humor unifies people from all walks of life. When we imbue our everyday lives with a lighthearted attitude and choose to laugh at even those situations seem to be frustrating, we will not only be endlessly joyful, but we will influence everyone we meet with our positive energy.
Jacob Vargas harnesses the power of laughter as a comedic icon in his new show Mr. Iglesias. As an actor and a human being, Jacob finds joy in everything he does. On acting, he says “The homework and the discovery of a new character can bring you so much joy!”
In this interview, read more about Jacob’s inspiring and humorous approach to life.
- Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Jacob Vargas?
Hello. My name is Jacob Vargas. I am an actor, husband, and father, I consider myself a lifelong student. I’m super curious. I’m an admirer of artistic expression and a fan of mid-century modern.
- As we accomplish more, we also reach for more. Do you remember a moment in your life in which you first felt like you “made it?” How do you embrace your innate path of expansion to continually manifest your dreams?
Just recently I went on a family trip to New York City. The trailer for my new Netflix’s show Mr. Iglesias was playing on the huge jumbotron in Times Square! It was so surreal seeing myself up there. If that isn’t an “I made it moment” I don’t know what is. I had to stand there and take in the moment.
I’ve been working really hard on trying to embrace and be conscious of what is happening in the moment and live in it…and then I posted it to social media. Haha!
- The entertainment industry is rapidly becoming more inclusive and diverse in its content. How can the talents within the industry continue to positively impact the audience?
I am so happy to see that the landscape is finally changing to a more accurate portrayal of what our society really looks like. I have much respect for the underrepresented artists who are constantly fighting for inclusion and breaking down barriers and opening doors. We still have a long way to go and that’s one of the things I love about our show Mr. Iglesias; it has a very diverse cast that people from all walks of life can relate to.
- On Netflix’s Mr. Iglesias, you portray Tony Ochoa, the best friend to high school teacher Mr. Iglesias. What is your favorite part of playing Tony?
I love the chemistry and friendship that Tony and Gabe have on the show! It is totally believable that these guys have been lifelong friends. I feel that comes across because we genuinely like and respect each other. We get to laugh all day long! Some days my mouth would hurt from laughing so much. It has been a real gift.
- Mr. Iglesias handles topics spanning from race and equality to the high school dynamics between students and teachers with light-hearted humor. How do you think a show like Mr. Iglesias brings awareness and embraces a positive conversation with the audience, especially when it’s recorded live in front of them?
Yes, we touch on a lot of issues, but we touch on them in a comedy sense and never get too heavy-handed. After all, this is still a sitcom. The main goal is to bring laughter and joy into people’s lives. You should feel good and hopeful after each episode. The live audience brings another level of energy to the show. We don’t use a laugh track. That really is a live audience laughing their butts off!!
- Tony Ochoa is the best friend of Mr. Iglesias, played by Gabriel Iglesia, who is quite the opposite of your character. How do they complement each other within the show?
I knew going in that another character can’t compete against Gabriel Iglesias larger than life energy, so my delivery had to be the opposite. Tony is a bit jaded and doesn’t like to work so hard. He expends the least amount of energy possible. Tony is the Ying to Gabe’s Yang. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, you get the picture.
- Tony has a crush on a new teacher, Ms. Abigail Spencer, played by Maggie Geha. How would you describe the dynamics of the relationship between Tony and Abigail?
Hahah. I love Tony and Abby’s relationship. Tony is one of those old school Bros when it comes to romance. He thinks he’s got game and truly considers himself a lady’s man. He thinks he’s slowly working Abby down, but Abby is super smart and deflects every advance like a martial artist! But I love Tony’s confidence. He really thinks he has a shot. Poor Tony!
- In Mark Carlson’s new film Princess of the Row, you are featured as Donald alongside Martin Sheen and Ana Ortiz. What role does Donald play in the film, which details the strong bond between a daughter and her father who is living with mental illness after serving in Iraq?
Princess of the Row is a beautiful independent film about the powerful bond between a young girl and her father who suffers from PTSD and is living on skid row. It will definitely pull at your heartstrings. Unfortunately, I can’t really reveal too much about Donald. You have to see the movie.
- The film is both beautifully done and an incredibly powerful story. What should viewers take away from watching the film?
Princess of the Row definitely humanizes people who are homeless, and it gives you a glimpse into their world. You will leave this film filled with so many emotions. As a father of two girls, this film really resonated with me. Edi Gathegi and Taylor Buck who plays Father and daughter are brilliant in this film.
- You have received critical acclaim for your work in films such as Traffic. How does it feel to receive awards such as the Screen Actors Guild Award and the ALMA Award?
Ah Yes. Winning a SAG award and ALMA Award were definitely other surreal “I made it” moments. I remember at the SAG Awards the cast was so happy to see each other. We were having a blast catching up and the champagne was flowing. Our award category was the last of the evening so when they called our name, we were all pretty inebriated. Hahaha!
- What other exciting projects you are currently working on?
There is some cool stuff in the works but unfortunately these days almost every project requires you to sign an NDA. So, I can’t really reveal too much at the moment.
- Do you have any practices for finding peace or joy in your day to day life?
I’m getting into meditation these days. I try to find a quiet place to close my eyes and breathe for at least 10-15 minutes (which can be a challenge with two kids wanting your consent undivided attention). You will be amazed at how good you feel afterward.
This may sound strange but I also like to organize my drawers and vacuum the house. That brings me a sense of calm.
- The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is The Essence of a Joyful Living. How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?
I’m learning to find more joy in the creative process. I used to think that in order to give a good performance you had to delve into the dark corners of your life and torture yourself. That is so unhealthy!! The homework and the discovery of a new character can bring you so much joy!
- When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words from the Abraham-Hicks teachings, what is your take on such a statement?
I’ve never heard that quote before, but I think it’s great and spot on.