KC: Hi Carlos, thank you so much for being my guinea pig, you and Blanca, are my first interviews on Livin’ la Vida LA! And I’m very happy you two are my firsts!
CP: Me too. I haven’t been anyone’s first in a very long time.
KC: Ha! I already know this is gonna be a fun interview. Ok, now down to the nitty gritty. Tell me, how do you describe "East Los High" to your friends who have yet to see the show?
CP: That’s easy. "East Los High” is sort of telenovela meets an American teen show like “Gossip Girl” meets a gritty Mexican movie like “Amores Perros.”
KC: I love that description. So, what was your role(s) on the show?
CP: Co-creator, Head Writer, Producer and Director. I ran personal errands for the staff, swept the floors and went on numerous Starbucks runs for various crew members.
KC: What about the editing of the 24 episodes, did you have a lot of input there?
CP: I always work extremely closely with the editor during post. I was very fortunate to work with a great editor named Donna Mathewson. Editing is, by far, my favorite part of production. By the time you get to post, all the heavy lifting is done. It all becomes about creating a pretty pictures and eating lots of junk food.
KC: Wow, sounds like you had your hands in a little bit of everything. Is that what they call “Creative Control”?
CP: That’s right. For me it’s all about control. Just like Janet Jackson.
KC: "...Miss Jackson if you're nasty", I couldn't resist. So how did you come about the project yourself?
CP: I was hired by this wonderful non-profit organization, Population Media Center (PMC.) They produce entertainment/educational shows around the world. This project was their first USA production.
KC: What is a great on set story you can share with us?
CP: I worked with more than seventy Latino actors. During our 67 day shoot, not one single Latino was late on set. I think that’s like the equivalent to Moses parting the Red Seas.
KC: A miracle indeed! When the project was completed, did you plan for it to air on Hulu?
CP: No. After meeting with various networks, Hulu made us the best offer and we accept it.
KC: What’s the feedback been like on the show?
CP: 95% has been fantastic. Lots of “binge-watching.” Seems that most people want to know about Season 2.
KC: Heck yeah we do, but I'll get to that in a second. How has it been going for the show on HULU? I hear things are rosy!
CP: Yes. I heart Hulu. They are an amazing group of people. "East Los High" has been the #1 show on Hulu Latino since its premiere on June 3rd. It's also on the top 5 Hulu shows.
KC: So getting back to season 2, will there be one? Or a spin-off perhaps?
CP: Yes. But I can’t say much about that. Which is very difficult, you know how much us Latinos love to chismear. But I can tell you that I’m considering doing a prequel called “East Los Kinder” -- you know, back when they were babies.
KC: Come on chismear away! Ok, I won't press to much...yet. So, do you feel you have in some way helped open the doors for other shows like "East Los High"?
CP: I would love to say “yes,” but I’m not sure. Only time will tell. Ask me again in 3 years.
KC: What would you say is your crowning achievement on "East Los High"?
CP: Being able to get up at 4:30am every morning in order to get to the set on time. I hate waking up when the alarm goes off and it’s still dark outside.
KC: The actors had to audition to get the roles they got, how did you “cast” your writers, producers and casting director?
CP: The writers were easy to “cast.” I meet with writers and ask them to write a couple of pages of script. I can tell right away who’s got the right sensibility for show. Producers were people I knew or that came highly recommended. Casting Director? I’ve known Blanca for over ten years. A lot of the show’s success goes to her. She found all the actors.
KC: How involved were you in the casting process with Blanca?
CP: Very. But Blanca always meets when them first. I trust Blanca explicitly. She’s got an incredible eye for talent.
KC: In my blog opening I mentioned that this show IS mainstream entertainment, do you feel your show is mainstream?
CP: Well… let’ see… “East Los High” has sex, romance, music, dancing, envy, jealousy, violence, bitchy girls, hot guys… Yeah, I think it qualifies as mainstream.
KC: What’s next for you?
CP: I’m going to the Sundance Cinemas (the old Sunset 5) to watch “Only God Forgives,” starring Ryan Gossling. Ryan and I getting married next month – he just doesn’t know it yet.
KC: Oh you got that all wrong, he's marrying me :) Thank You So Much Carlos for allowing me to interview you (you made me laugh) and of course thanks for your wonderful show! I think my blog readers now know that it took “A Village” to raise this baby. Anything else you’d like to leave us with?
CP: Yes. I love our baby. And every single person who was part of making it such a great show.
Carlos Portugal is an executive producer, writer and director, who began his career at KQED, San Francisco’s PBS station. He has worked for ABC, NBC, Lifetime, Telemundo, Fox Latin American Channel and Fox Kids. Portugal made his directorial film debut with the feature “East Side Story,” he also worked for three seasons as a staff writer on Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne” for TBS Network.
Recently, Portugal co-wrote and directed his second feature film, “Pop Star,” a teen musical which premiered on Lifetime on June 2013.