Y&R newcomer Jason Canela is bringing a new flavor to Genoa City
“It was just another audition,” says Jason Canela of trying out for the role of Y&R’s Arturo Rosales. “When I walked into the casting room, I gave 100 percent and walked out. I didn’t hear back from them for a long time, so I honestly put it in the back of my mind and went home to spend time with my family. And then I got the call.”
That would be for a chemistry test with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Joshua Morrow (Nick), but bad luck almost kept him from making it to the soap’s studio. “I’m super-punctual, because I value people’s time way too much, so I’ll be early and sit in the parking lot if I have to,” he explains. “That day, I left very early but I put in the wrong address for CBS! I realized what I did, but when I went to do a turn, I got T-boned. It was a terrible accident and I had to kick my door open to get out of the car. Once I knew that we were both safe, I got really upset that I wasn’t going to make it to this chemistry read. I still had about 40 minutes and I was 14 minutes away, so I got in my banged-up car and drove to the chemistry read and just made it on time.”
He may have been punctual, but the actor looked worse for wear when he arrived at CBS. “I was so frazzled and they asked, ‘Whoa, are you okay?’ ” Canela recalls. “I don’t even know what I said but we did the chemistry read and Josh was unbelievable and Melody was incredible. It was just a really good experience, and then a few days later I got the call that I had booked the job!”
Before Canela could report to work, misfortune stepped in again. “My first day was January 3, but the night before, I ended up rolling my ankle,” he shares. “I tore every ligament on the right side of my foot!”
After a visit to the emergency room, Canela still showed up at Y&R the following morning. “Obviously, I was freaking out,” he groans. “I thought everyone would be, like, ‘How the hell are we gonna work with this guy? He can’t walk!’ And it was that day I knew I was in the right place and I could consider these people family, because they were just so incredible and helpful with the whole situation. The directors, Mal [Young, executive producer/head writer], everyone was just so helpful. I expected them to get someone else, but they did their best to work with my circumstance. And here we are today, still chugging away and doing really awesome things!”
Canela was 14 when he developed a serious interest in show business. “My cousins and I used to do skits for the family at parties,” he relays. Then, his older brother, pop singer Jencarlos Canela, booked his first acting role, on the hit telenovela PECADOS AJENOS. “He was 18 at the time, and they put him in acting classes because he had never acted before. When he got back from the first class, he said, ‘Go with me to the next one.’ I was like, ‘Forget that! I’m already counting down the hours in school, I’m not going to another class for four hours!’ He actually dragged me to the class.”
It turned out to be a life-changing experience. “It’s the first time that I remember sitting still in a classroom setting,” Canela marvels. “It caught my attention in so many ways that I wanted to go back. I hadn’t felt that about anything but sports. I actually asked if I could get up and do the scene that they were doing. I wanted to throw myself in there. In that class, my brother was the youngest one there, and the instructor said, ‘Let’s see what you’ve got!’ ”
Despite his eagerness, Canela’s performance was far from impressive. “I probably did the worst rendition of that scene ever,” he chuckles. “People were laughing, but the instructor said, ‘That probably didn’t go the way you expected, but your desire to get in there inspires me. I always said that I wouldn’t teach kids, but I want you to be in my class.’ I took his class for four years before doing an audition. With the market being so small in Miami, I didn’t want to go to Telemundo or Univision and bomb at my first try.”
That self-restraint paid off, and in 2010, Canela landed a supporting role on the telenovela ¿DÓNDE ESTÁ ELISA? When that wrapped, Canela was strongly advised by his acting coach to seek more training in New York City. “He wrote a letter of recommendation for me to The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute,” he recounts. “Within a week I did the interview through Skype and I got the acceptance letter on a Monday, but I had to be in New York the following week to start. I was 17 and I had never lived away from home before. It was so crazy!”
While lodging with relatives, Canela studied full-time in the Big Apple, where the frenetic pace was just his cup of tea. “New York’s incredible,” he enthuses. “It’s got such a powerful vibe and energy. I love being in places where the majority of people are trying to achieve something. It makes you want to work harder and move forward. A lot of people are trying to take it to the next level and I thought it was really neat to be in that environment.”
After a year, Canela returned to Miami, where he booked stints on two more telenovelas. After that, Televisa in Mexico expressed interest. “In the Spanish market, Televisa is like the Hollywood of soap operas,” he notes. “I met with the producers, talked about story and then it was green-lit. I was definitely considering making the move to Mexico, but everything got pushed back about eight months from the original starting date. That, to me, was like a sign: ‘This isn’t it, you’ve gotta go to L.A.’ So, I came to L.A. and it has been the best decision I ever made.”
Three years after relocating to Tinseltown, Canela landed on Y&R and has avoided further calamities (“There have been no more injuries, no more accidents. I have not felt better!”). And now, he’s looking forward to staying put. “It’s a blessing and I don’t take it for granted, not for one second,” he smiles. “I wake up every day and, amongst many things, I thank God for this job. I definitely am very thankful to Y&R for believing in me and letting me bring light to this character.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: April 25
Born And Raised: Hialeah, FL. “It’s very close to Miami.”
Get In Line: He’s the youngest of four siblings, which includes brothers Erick and Jencarlos, and sister Annette.
Relationship Status: Seriously dating Janaina. “She was at the beach and I thought she was gorgeous, so I started talking to her and to this day we have a great relationship. She’s become a very big part of my life.”
Body In Motion: “I’m super-active, so I’m always hiking or working out, but I also love fishing. I have no patience for anything, but I could be on a boat and wait eight hours for a fish to bite the line. Growing up, I was always outside playing and had to be running. Even in class, I was that kid who was sitting on the top of the desk or just moving my feet and playing with the pencil. I could not sit still.”
Chew On This: “I love working out, but you could call me a serial cheater considering how many cheat meals I have. If I see a Taco Bell commercial at 1:30 in the morning, I might just jump in the car and get me a taco.”
Triple Play: Canela says he was typecast in the three telenovelas he appeared in. “I always played the bad guy, but, like, crazy bad. My characters were into drugs and gangs. I guess I had a really mean face, but I also had really long hair, too, so that probably was a factor.”
Boy Band: The Canela brothers (from l.), Jencarlos, Erick and Jason.
All Together Now:“My parents have always been very supportive,” praises Canela, with his mother, Lisette and father, Heriberto. “Without them, I know that I wouldn’t be standing where I am today.”
Did You Know?
Canela excelled at every sport but baseball. “I played soccer, basketball and volleyball throughout high school but when I tried out for baseball, the coach put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Baseball is not your sport, man.’ Swinging that bat and locating the ball is just not my thing.”
Like his brother Jencarlos, Canela can sing. “I recently had the opportunity to be in the studio for a week and we put together a couple tracks that surprised all of us. I haven’t made the decision yet, but I’m thinking about putting it out.”
He was ordained as a minister to perform his brother Erick’s wedding.
Canela is thrilled that his character’s siblings have come to Genoa City. “I think Y&R is breaking that door down and letting people know that being Hispanic does not mean being Mexican,” the actor explains. “The fact that they made us a Cuban family is really cool because it’s obviously my heritage, and so I feel extremely proud of playing that background. It’s going to be really cool for us to be able to play our culture and show people what we’re about.” Canela is already feeling close to new sibs Jordi Vilasuso (Rey, near r.) and Sasha Calle (Lola) as his soap siblings. “They are unbelievable,” Canela praises. “Jordi’s been around for a while and people know that guy is a hell of an actor and he delivers every single time. Sasha is brand-new to this, but man, I can’t wait for people to see her work. I’m really excited to see what the Rosales family stirs up in Genoa City.”
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