paul rodriguez interview
Interview

‘Selena’ star Paul Rodriguez talks life-changing filming experience, new CBD brand and more

The pro skateboarder ‘hit the reset button’ this year

Paul Rodriguez’s two plus years on the sidelines have finally expired. The 35-year-old Latino skateboarder, more often called “P-Rod,” marked a triumphant public return after tearing his ACL, MCL and meniscuses, among other injuries, in one fell swoop. Now, he’s not only reunited with his beloved board, but has two major projects out in the world.

One silver-lining shimmered during Paul’s recovery. He began to use CBD oil to combat any inflammation post-physical therapy and took tinctures after hearing of their health benefits. “Being a business-minded person, my next thought was how do I get involved with this industry,” Paul tells us. And he certainly did. P-Rod recently launched Just Live alongside fellow star athletes Klay Thompson, Alex Morgan and Travis Pastrana.

Paul may also be fresh on your mind due to Netflix’s hit Selena: The Series. He plays Roger Garcia, a back-up guitarist in Selena y Los Dinos. It’s what Paul hopes is the first recurring role of many, as he aims to transition to being a full-time actor after his longtime skateboarding adventure ends. It’s not a big stretch by any means - acting courses through P-Rod’s blood. His father, Paul Rodriguez Sr., is considered one of the greatest comedians of all time and has churned out countless memorable performances in the TV and Film sphere. “Growing up he always told me acting is in the eyes,” P-Rod says.

Learn more about Paul and his experience filming Selena, launching a new CBD brand, keeping a positive mindset and what’s next in our chat below!


HOLA USA: How have you and the family been hanging in?

Paul Rodriguez: I’m grateful to God everyday, it’s been a weird year for everybody, but thankfully in my personal life a lot of blessings have come along, a lot of self-reflection, and a lot of positivity in family life. I feel very fortunate and thankful that, for me, this year has given me the opportunity to hit the reset button.

We send all of the parents out there so many extra kudos during these turbulent times. How has it been for you parenting-wise?

It’s been good and interesting for sure. My daughter is about to be 12 and so she’s at an age where she’s becoming more of her own person, developing more personality and sassiness, so I’ve been getting used to that. But we’ve had a lot more time to spend together with her doing school at home. She’s in junior high now, so selfishly I feel good. It’s kept her away from any negative influences or trouble that kids tend to start getting into at that age. I don’t know if she’s bored out of her mind, but overall it’s been a good thing to have more time with her at home.

Confession: when I was a kid I used to play as you on Tony Hawk’s Underground. Has your daughter played any of the video games/ what does she think of it all?

No, she hasn’t. Though recently during the pandemic, she’s started to show some interest in skateboarding. She likes to skate and roll around. She has more fun skating with her friends that are her age, though with the lockdown situation the kids can’t always get together to skate. I’m still dad no matter what, if I take her to skate, even though I’m a professional skateboarder, she doesn’t want to hear my advice or learn from me. She wants to roll around with her friends and learn on her own. I’ve taken her around and rolled with her, but I think she enjoys it more without me to be honest.

Ha! On another note, it’s so powerful to see you impacting the world in a positive way with Just Live. Can you talk about getting involved with that?

About two and a half years ago, I tore my ACL, both meniscuses, my MCL, sprained my PCL and got two bone contusions in my right knee, and that really put a damper on my skateboarding career. I had surgery, and had about two years of full downtime before I could really start skating with confidence again.

During that time, that’s when all the changes with CBD and legalization started happening, and different companies and friends would just send me different CBDs. I had always heard good things and that it helps with inflammation and preventing diseases, so I was like, ‘hey, why not? If there are so many health benefits I might as well try it out.’ I started using it regularly and I would really notice a difference in my inflammation. After going to physical therapy and working out, I’d come home, I’d feel swollen, and I’d put the CBD oil on and take the tinctures and would notice an immediate difference. I’d go back to physical therapy and feel strong again, instead of feeling sore and sluggish. That’s what really made me a believer, going through that injury and using it consistently throughout the process.

Being a business-minded person, my next thought was, ‘how do I get involved with this industry?’ I talked to a few different brands and they never felt like the right fit. One day, Steve Ruff (one of the Co-Founders of Just Live) called me up and talked me through his vision for the brand with athlete founders, and I immediately wanted to get on board. He was the first guy I talked to in the CBD space that really made sense - he truly cared about the quality of the product and actually educating people about the benefits of CBD.

cbd athelete©Just Live
P-Rod wants to help fellow athletes with his new venture Just Live

What was it like also collaborating with Klay Thompson, Alex Morgan and Travis Pastrana on this?

It’s incredible, those three are the real deal: famous super athletes that are known on a national level. To be partnered up with this level of athletes, I was completely honored and dumbfounded, and I’m still pinching myself.

I love Just Live’s emphasis on the mental aspect in addition to the physical. Mental Health is certainly a pandemic, too. What’s your advice for mentally staying well - especially in these times?

Thankfully, even prior to this year, prioritizing my mental health was something that was always important to me and something I was working on. Every professional athlete is somewhat within the realm of elite physical capability, you’ve all made it to that professional level. The thing that really makes a difference and makes the great truly the great, and the mediocre the mediocre is the mindset. And so that’s something I would study, like Muhammed Ali or Tiger Woods, I like studying their mindsets. I read a lot of books on those guys and sports psychology books, and whether it’s prayer or meditation, that’s something I really do quite frequently to keep myself centered and well-balanced.

Amazing. Congratulations on your first series regular role in Selena: the Series! I know you love entertaining, but what specifically made you want to act in this show?

Being Mexican-American, Selena is one of the icons of our culture, so to be a part of anything involving Selena is an incredible honor. I’m old enough to remember her and her being killed. My father knew Selena, he has photos with her and knew her family, so I felt connected in that way. It means a great deal to be a part of this amazing icon’s story, even if it’s just a little part in her story.

What was the experience shooting that like? Did anything surprise you?

Everything surprised me. Me saying that I had a fun experience is such an understatement. I had the best time of my life, on and off the set. The cast, the crew, everybody was so tight knit and meshed well together. I made some great life-long friends from the experience. Watching the dedication of the actors, and me being a new actor getting involved in a new craft, gave me a chance to really watch professional seasoned actors, and see the level that they’re on. And me having learned to become high-level at something allowed me to respect the work and time and dedication that these actors put into learning their craft.

I would always go on set, even if I wasn’t shooting that day, and watch. I loved watching them film it. I loved the set that we had. I loved watching the process... it’s all so magical to me. I can’t even express how much fun I had.

Did it feel different working on a project with primarily Latinx talent? I’m sure Selena’s legacy was palpable in the air.

It’s hard to say because I haven’t been on that kind of production before, so this was my first real experience, but yeah, it felt unique in the sense that we all had this same emotional connection to it. We’re all tied down to the same culture, and the honor of being a part of this series was not lost on anybody that was a part of it, it was palpable from every department. From the set department to the makeup to the costumes to the actors, everybody knew we’re representing Selena here, we have to be on our A-game, this isn’t another paid gig, this is something special, and we only get one shot at this.

Did your dad offer any acting advice ahead of filming?

Not ahead of doing this particular project, but growing up he always told me acting is in the eyes, and I didn’t always understand what he meant until I got older. I mean you really have to go there, you have to go to that place and be that character. I had so many of my friends poke fun of me saying ‘look at you in those ‘80s clothes,’ and I’d be like ‘that’s not me, that’s Roger.’ I get it because you see my face and you’re used to seeing me in a different light, but when I’m there, that’s not me, P-Rod does not exist here.

What’s next for you?

Well, now that I’m healthy again, at some point I need to transition out of skateboarding, against my will I will say, because I would never want to transition out of it if I didn’t have to. Unfortunately it’s an athletic endeavor which causes you, sometimes, to not be able to keep up with it. The ultimate goal would be to transition into a working actor after skateboarding, but as of right now, I feel so inspired for skateboarding. I feel like I have so much left in the tank, so I’m back to focusing on skateboarding 100%.

I’m so in love with skateboarding again, this injury has actually been one of the biggest blessings in my life and I just want to give it my all, because now I know what it’s like to have it taken from me. Now that I have another opportunity, I thank God everyday that I’m healthy and I have so much more gratitude for skateboarding. There are so many things I didn’t realize I was taking for granted. And so, for the foreseeable future, what’s next - I’m getting back on the board and I’m skating like I’m trying to make up for all of that lost time that I missed.