The day I arrived in America was one for the books. You wouldn't believe the questions I was asked, "Are you a homosexual? Are you a communist?" I guess I was expecting a warm welcome. Hello, hi, how are you? I'm Ruben Rabasa, a part-time purveyor of wisdom, and coincidentally, a full-time actor. So, it began - I started my journey into show business, baby! I couldn’t speak a lick of English and there I was walking around New York City. I met my good friend Orestes Matacena and Miguel Ponce; two men who knew how to woo the crowd of the streets of New York. Speaking of streets, I was one of the pioneers in making Spanish theater on the streets of New York.
While I was taking opera lessons at Carnegie Hall, (it was a privileged experience… and a very intense one, if you must ask) I joined Matacena and Ponce's "The New York Theater of the Americas." It was the start of a new beginning and a huge turning point in my life. I loved every minute of it. Especially because I was acting in all types of plays, drama, comedy and musicals. "The New York Theater of the Americas" produced 30 plays, in English and Spanish up until 1972 when I landed my first movie role in a film called Badge 73. My bald head made its debut poking out from the letter 'B' in the title sequence.
I was getting discouraged and ready to kick the can, until the day I met Ivan Acosta. Along with Ivan, Matacena and his wife Clara we embarked on another adventure and founded the, "Cuban Cultural Center" in 1975. It became a special place for me. Two movies were produced from original plays borne out of the Center. I was delighted to be cast in one of them called "Los Gusanos" (The Worms) No! It was NOT a horror movie! Although I hate to say, it dealt with a horrific story about Cuba and the Cuban Diaspora. The other movie that came from the Center was "El Super."
With my Cuban heritage, I was ready to be around my people and culture once again, so I moved to Miami to reconnect with my roots. Even when the odds were against me by film producers and location, I had to give it my all. I lived by the phrase ‘When you act with your heart and take responsibility for your actions, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to’. The film industry was my dream, my passion, and the one thing I wanted more than anything.
In Miami, I found what I was looking for: A culture of people who understood the idea of remembering where they came from. I began working in theater, radio, television, and film; having more success than I did in New York. Who would have thought. I got cast in a film called "Guaguasi" where I play a priest and another film called "Amigos" where I play the main character about the 1980, Cuban, Mariel boatlift. Put those on your must-watch list!
But I got tired of being killed in most of the movies I worked on in Miami, so I packed up and went to Hollywood! Where I had massive success working on over 60 films and television shows such as “The Perez Family” with Marisa Tomei, “Nostromo” with Colin Firth, “The Lost City” with Andy Garcia, “Jack and Jill” with Adam Sandler and the Focus Group Man in “I Think You Should Leave” on Netflix.
Most recently, I dove into a theatrical show, The Amparo Experience, which was a box office hit that had sold out functions for eight months straight, heck yeah. This magical show was written by Vanessa Garcia and directed by Victoria Collado; both magnificent women. Directly after, I performed a special part in The Cubans at Miami New Drama directed by Victoria Collado once again; it just keeps getting better and better.
Up next, I’m preparing for my one-man show, “Rabasa Is Here”, which will expand on my anecdotes, life, and mistakes and all the thrilling things to come. This future masterpiece involves talented people including Robby Ramos, Vanessa Garcia, Victoria Collado. Stay tuned, friends. Big things are happening.