April 20, 2001

Jaime Gomez Steps Up

By Marcos Muniz

With his upcoming performance as Mike in "Gabriela", Jaime Gomez moves from his role on the TV series "Nash Bridges" to his first leading role in a feature film. "Gabriela" is a passionate love story that Power Point Point Films is releasing nationwide in May. The buzz on the film is that it is going to be a hit, as Gomez puts it: "A big home run." Juan Rodriguez Flores, Entertainment Editor and film critic for La Opinión declared that Gabriela is "the best love story since "Pretty Woman."

Jaime paid his dues by doing small parts in hit TV shows such as "21 Jump Street, "Picket Fences," and "Jag." Then came supporting parts in big studio movies like "Clear and Present Danger" and "Crimson Tide." While his talent was evident, the jobs were still not enough to really make ends meet. That is, until Jaime got called to audition for Don Johnson's new show "Nash Bridges." Jaime recalls that he barely had enough money for the bus to get to the audition. Fortunately, Jaime nailed the audition and got cast as Evan Cortez, a part he played for five years. "Doing the show with Don and Cheech [Marin] was an absolute blast" he recalls with pleasure. "But now it is time for me to move on to features."

His part in "Nash Bridges" brought him to the attention of Vincent Miller, the Writer, Director of "Gabriela" who had been casting for close to a year looking for the perfect actor to play Mike, the social worker whose love affair with his colleague Gabriela forms the backbone of the picture. As Miller recalls, "I had seen many good actors for the part but there was something that was missing. It was three weeks before we had planned on shooting and I was seriously beginning to consider changing our start date when I got lucky enough to be introduced to Jaime's work on "Nash Bridges." Fortunately, he had just finished shooting the show and was able to come and audition for us." Miller was enthused by Jaime's performance: "I always wanted the character to have that extra little edge and intensity that a great actor could bring and seeing Jaime read for us, I knew we had found our Mike."

The part of Mike was not written specifically to be played by a Latino and Gomez was very receptive to that: "It's exciting to be considered just an actor, period, as opposed to being a Latino actor. I think that was one of the most important things about making the decision to do this film, the fact that the Latino characters were portrayed in such a positive light, as real people, as opposed to being caricatures..." Significantly, "Gabriela" is the first Hollywood love story to star two Latinos and has inspired the creation of the Premiere Weekend Club an organization dedicated to motivating Hollywood to produce and distribute more films with realistic Latino characters. "The film is a must see for anyone who loves romantic stories. People will love Jaime and Seidy in "Gabriela," says Gil Botello, President of the Premiere Weekend Club.

Jaime's finely honed performance as Mike was helped by Miller's insistence on extensive rehearsals: "The rehearsal time was really, really great. It turned out to be such an advantage when we got to shooting, because we had already done it. We already knew what we wanted to do, as opposed to trying to find it on the set. I think it shows up on screen." Having Seidy Lopez at his side playing Gabriela was another plus: "Seidy was great. She was prepared and worked really hard. She helped me a lot and we helped each other.

Now that "Gabriela" is about to hit the screens, Gomez has reached his goal of being the star of a feature film and expects a great audience response: "I went to a few test screenings and the audience's response was amazing. It was very gratifying to see the enthusiasm after the screening." But success, while important, is not all for Gomez: "What is about is doing the work, doing something important and passionate. That's what "Gabriela" is and I'm excited to see it."

"Gabriela" will open in San Diego next month.

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