The fast-pace plot-twisting drama and spinoff “Power Book II: Ghost” has received a great response with the son of the infamous Ghost, Tariq, played by Michael Rainey Jr., taking the lead, balancing school, drug dealing and all the changing relationships in his life.
In a short but tense scene, Huntington was represented as Jason Galloza secured a bottle-bashing scene in the episode “Good vs. Evil.” Ironically, Galloza never really knew much about the show before getting the role. I chatted with the 32-year-old actor about how he got the part, his background and how playing monsters on the set of “Men in Black” convinced him that acting was what he wanted to do.
So how would you say your background influenced your career path and the way you work?
The business I’m in is a tough business. You take a lot of rejection on a daily basis. For every victory, you get 20 to 30 defeats. For me, growing up I was always encouraged to have that mentality where if you want something, you have to go out there and get it because nobody’s going to hand it to you. My parents, they got divorced when I was like nine, so I grew up in a single-parent household. My mom worked two jobs, so that definitely taught me a lot and made me mature faster. I’ve been working since I was 13-years-old because I knew if I wanted something, I had to do that because my mom was doing her best just to provide us with the bear essentials. So I think that molded the type of character and tenacity that’s required for someone to pursue something where on a daily basis people tell you the chances of becoming successful are very slim.
So how do you deal with rejection?
The way I look at it, nobody’s perfect. I’m not going to be perfect for every role. You have to understand how the business works. Being Hispanic in this field has definitely opened up more doors for me because I’m bilingual. It makes me versatile, more dangerous, so I’m very thankful. Now that the Spanish population is increasing, it helps to know a second language.
What made you decide to get into acting? Was it a person or a situation? What was the catalyst for you saying this is what I want to do?
A buddy of mine who always wanted to be an actor invited me to a background cast for “Men in Black 3.” They were casting agents and aliens. At that time, I was working and considering joining the Marines. So we go to the casting call, then I forget about it and go back to life as usual and one day they just called me out of all of us to work on the film. They wanted me to come in and be an alien. I’m like, “Alright, this is pretty cool and it pays money.” They give me a date to be on set, so I show up, they fit me and then all of a sudden, I’m on a professional movie set. I’m standing in the “Men in Black” headquarters and I’m like, “Alright, this is happening.”
What did it feel like? What was going through your head?
Honestly, it was just happening so fast and I was kind of in disbelief. What really hit was when I was standing there and I heard, “Yo baby, yo baby,” and I’m like, “Yo, that voice sounds familiar.” I looked back and it’s Will Smith. I’m like, “Alright, this isn’t happening.” I was a big Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fan growing up, so when I saw Will he gave me a dap and I’m in like this big hairy gorilla suit and I’m like, “Oh my God, it’s Will Smith.” Now, it’s a different story. When I see a celebrity I kind of look at them as a peer and I’m professional. I was about to fan boy real quick, but I kept my composure and I was like, “Wow, this is amazing! How did this happen?” It went from that to me working on that film for a whole month. The important thing with that experience was that project got me all of my SAG (Screen Actors Guild) waivers. The waivers aren’t easy to get. I immediately became SAG-eligible. I didn’t know this at the time because it was all new to me.
So how did you learn more about the business?
After I finished working on that film, I was like, “This is what I wanna do.” Something just clicked, it just felt right. Then I was like, “I should probably take some classes.” So I started researching schools. I ended up deciding to go with the New York Film Academy in Manhattan and I did a one-year conservatory. It’s pretty much a program. There are different acting methods or techniques that you can train under and they train you under the Meisner technique, which are all classical methods so I’m classically trained now. Shortly after I graduated, I got my first manager and I booked probably the biggest thing of my career to date at that time, which was a Super Bowl commercial for Bud Lite with JB Smooth.
Wow, was it this past Super Bowl?
No, this was like four or five years ago. I did the commercial, and I thought, “Alright, things are gonna start to fall into place.” And, they kinda didn’t go the way I planned. I was kind of back to square one afterwards. Auditions weren’t coming in as much. I got to a point where I wasn’t auditioning as much. My career was kind of staying flat.
Was it because you were focusing on other things?
Yeah, I’m gonna blame that on the fact that, you know how it is when you’re not always making money doing what you love. So you have to work a survival job and do what you gotta do to pay the bills. I worked in a hospital for eight years. I felt like the hospital was taking me away from what I really wanted to do because I couldn’t really focus and commit to it 100%.
So one night you just said, “I’m working at this hospital. I’m tired of being here, I’m ready to act full-time,”? What was that moment?
Yeah, honestly it was a random-ass moment like that. I was like, “I’m getting older, I’m not getting any younger.” Thank God I got these Puerto Rican genes in me and I’m aging pretty well, but this isn’t gonna last forever so I was like, “I gotta make a decision cause if not, I’ma be 50-years-old, probably still at this hospital. I’m gonna look back and be like, ‘What the hell? Why didn’t you man up and make a move?'” One day I walked into the office and put in my two weeks and I never looked back. That’s where I had been almost two years ago.
Wow, did you have a plan?
I had no plan at all. I went in there, said I’m out and cashed in my retirement money and said, “I’ma live off that until I figure out what I’m gonna do.” Then I just started hittin’ it hard, full swing. Everything I could do, I was doing. I had a couple profiles out on different acting sites. Then one day a gentlemen by the name of Gregory Alexander reaches out to me and said, “I came across your profile. I’m a manger and I want you to audition for me. I’m looking for a bilingual actor.” You got a lot of shows out here that casts for Latinos like “Blue Bloods”, “FBI”, “Law and Order”, “Power”. So I went to Brooklyn, auditioned for him and he loved me and the rest is history. Once I signed with him, I was getting audition after audition for big things. I was auditioning for Warner Brothers, Fox Sutdios, Lionsgate on a weekly basis. And he’s [Alexander] like, “I don’t know what it is about you man, but you’re one of the first actors I’ve ever had that’s being requested to be seen this much without having a crazy resume.”
Why do you think that is?
I’m gonna attest it to the fact that being ethnically ambiguous is a big thing because they can pretty much use you for many different things and I think my look falls under that. I think the fact that I can speak two languages is another reason. It definitely is a business that relies on looks to a certain extent, so I’m not gonna downplay that either. That’s also a big thing. So the beginning of 2020 happens, and I’m like, “This is gonna be my year.” And the first month, he [Alexander] he hits me up and he’s like, “You have an audition for ‘Power.'”
And how did you react to that?
I was like, “I never watched ‘Power.'”
Oh wow, you’ve never seen it before?
I had never seen it. I knew it was 50’s show and I knew it was really popular, but I had never watched it at that point.
I didn’t expect that honestly.
Best believe, I watched the whole thing. So I had to go to Lionsgate to audition in Manhattan and this is pre-COVID, like two months before. I go in there, I did my thing. And like everything else, you gotta just leave it at the door and then forget about it, cause if you dwell on it, you can drive yourself crazy. So I leave it in God’s hands and rest it in their hands. Maybe two days later, he [Alexander] calls and was like, “They want you for the role.” I was like, “Wow, this is a dope way to start the year.” Then he’s [Alexander] like, “You gotta go to Brooklyn to Sander Studios because they want you to go to the table read.” So I show up and they had a full buffet, it was no joke. For me, this is my first time experiencing this. So I go in there and I get the script with my name on it, and I’m looking around and all of a sudden Method Man’s there, Mary J. Blige is there and I’m like, “Oh my God.” I wanted to go to Method Man and just give him a dap real quick and look very unprofessional, but I kept my composure. I gave Mary J. Blige a hug and a kiss on the cheek. It was an amazing experience because I was pretty much at the level that I had wanted to be for so many years. I was just taking it all in.
I watch the show and I did see your scene. So what was it like doing that scene because you had to play real tough and hit someone with a bottle, so what was that like?
It wasn’t too hard for me to get into that kind of a character because the way I grew up and what I was surrounded by. That was the norm. So for me to get into that character was just me going back to the way I was when I was younger. As far as what you saw, that 30-second scene we did like 20 times, so kudos to my boy, who plays Trace. He took that bottle to the head like 16 times. It was made out of sugar glass, but still, you’re getting hit with it over and over again. It was an intense scene because we also had to rehearse with a stunt coordinator. It was a very intricate scene.
So now that you got this role on “Power Book II: Ghost,” and you have really jumped into acting, what’s next for you? What are you looking to do now?
Well, coronavirus kind of messed it up for everybody, especially for me because I booked that [“Power”], shot it and they had me on hold as a co-star for “FBI.” I had to come back for a call back audition. They wanted me to come back on Friday and COVID shut everything down that Thursday. All productions were put on hold and for the first half of it, there was pretty much no auditioning because everything was shut down. Now, things are starting to pick back up again, so in the past month, I’ve auditioned for quite a few things, so that’s a good sign. My plan is just to keep hittin’ it. I need to keep this momentum and hopefully COVID dies down and productions open up. Once I get a couple more co-stars under my belt, my goal is to get a series regular role on a TV show that’s consistent work.
Which TV show?
Something like “Power” would be amazing, but really anything. I’ve auditioned for a couple series regular roles. One was for a Hulu show that would’ve required me to move to LA for six months. At this point I’m hungry and I’m tryna eat.