RAFAEL V. DELEON Helps Recreate Spike Lee’s “SHE GOTTA HAVE IT”
By Andrew Cristi
How many new actors can really say they spent their year making guest appearances on some of the hottest and most critically acclaimed shows on television? While many artists wish that they could stamp such a feat on their resume, one bright new talent in particular has been cleaning up as he inhabits every hit imaginable from “The Americans,” to “House Of Cards,” to “The Breaks“! So, if for some reason you are not familiar with the name Rafael V. DeLeon yet- don’t worry- you will be!
Born in Washington D.C., the impressive new star earned a scholarship to Temple University where he played college basketball for three years, scoring big as he won three Atlantic-10 conference championships. From there? The determined overachiever went on to find himself in politics, working for the Mayor of D.C. inside the Executive Office of Boards & Commissions. With tons of determination, and a non-stop can-do attitude, it’s no wonder why once DeLeon found himself in show business, he quickly became one of the industry’s most sought after new actors.
Which is precisely why the gifted newcomer has found himself in a coveted role on the television recreation of Spike Lee’s big screen sensation of the same name; “She’s Gotta Have It.” The series follows the too gorgeous for words DeWanda Wise as Nola Darling as she goes through the ins and outs of the dating scene. Still completely relevant today as it was in 1986, the show has already earned plenty of applause, and DeLeon is naturally getting loads of praise for his performance as Manny, the best friend of Anthony Ramos’ character; Mars Blackmon.
With “She’s Gotta Have It” already such a hit and the talented actor rising faster than the speed of light, Wingman knew it was time to sit down with DeLeon and talk all about his brand new show, diversity in media, and what else he would love to do in the future. Read on to see what he had to say!
WINGMAN MAGAZINE: So, let’s talk about “She’s Gotta Have It”! Were you a fan of the original film?
RAFAEL V. DELEON: Absolutely! I began watching Spike’s filmography after first seeing “He Got Game.” The original film touches on topics that have long been considered taboo. The fact that Spike created a compelling film on these topics back in 1986 speaks to his vision and foresight.
WINGMAN MAGAZINE: Talk a little bit about what we can expect from the series, as well as your character; Manny.
DELEON: The series gives you a true-to-life shot into the life of Brooklynites- myself among them, and how they balance work, love, and life- and that is always relatable for millennials. Being able to capture that essence, now in 2017, is always intriguing. My character, Manny Garciela is the best-friend of Anthony Ramos’ character; Mars Blackmon. Whenever Mars needs a reality-check or joke, Manny is there for him.
WINGMAN MAGAZINE: Talk about the awesome people you get to work with here; DeWanda Wise, Cleo Anthony, Anthony Ramos, and of course, Spike Lee.
DELEON: Well, I’ll start with Spike. Man, the first thing that was apparent about Spike was his authenticity. I loved that. He’s done so much iconic work, having the opportunity to work with him first-hand was phenomenal. His ability to communicate his vision with precision and clarity was great. I worked closely with Anthony, and he was dope, man. We got to chat during downtime about the friendship between our characters and what that means. I’ve never worked with Anthony before, but we had a ton in common.
WINGMAN MAGAZINE: This movie really gave so many great parts to people of color back then and it’s great that the series can come along and do the same during a time when people have really been taking Hollywood to task for the lack of color visible on screen. Want to touch on that?
DELEON: Wow. Being a part of something like this series makes me introspective and grateful for the opportunity. As it relates to Hollywood, the thing that makes our country beautiful is the diversity. So many different people from many backgrounds. The truly inspirational stories, heart-breaking or otherwise, are endless.
WINGMAN MAGAZINE: You have guest-starred on “The Americans,” “House Of Cards” and “The Breaks”-impressive! Do you have a favorite world so far to inhabit?
DELEON: They all have been amazing for different reasons! The amount of work set designers and costume designers put into sets is unbelievable. You walk on set and are immediately transported to whatever time period or situation you are working. It’s like being a big kid and playing precise, emotional available, visually stimulating “make-believe,” but with much, much higher stakes. [Laughs]
WINGMAN MAGAZINE: Let’s face it- Hollywood should clearly watch out for you! Who else would you love to work with and what other roles would you love to play?
DELEON: Oh man, thank you! There are so many great artists in this industry creating amazing work. Listen, I’d work with whoever has a compelling story and amazing content. I’d love to work on a project in which I get to channel my old careers in politics or sports. Being a former college athlete, my ears always perk up when those genres appear. I’d also love to work on a project that involved tech, espionage, a historically key moment, or even a combination of all three. One can hope!
One can only hope to keep seeing DeLeon everywhere, and judging by how often he has been popping up? It doesn’t seem like he will be stopping any time soon!
Gotta have more of the fast rising star? Check him out on social media!