Television programming is filled with shows about people who save lives. Some heroes dress in uniforms, while others arrive in scrubs or civilian clothing. The small screen has brought us plenty of memorable ensemble casts to highlight these champions. Periodically, audiences get to experience something special when watching a TV series: a collaborative group of actors that play characters weighing equal importance in its storyline. NBC-Universal’s Chicago Fire is one of those shows that delivers something new each season achieving not only continuous engagement but connection. Tonight’s episode airs Wednesday, April 8th at 9 pm EST.
The series, now in its 8th season, is a true testament to how important it is to get the perfect combination of cast members, writers, editors, producers, and directors working towards the same vision to make a great show for its fans. For those of us who have been following Chicago Fire, we know that these elements are coming together for a big event on tonight’s episode “Light Things Up”: the wedding of firefighter Joe Cruz and Chloe!
Needless to say, the opportunity for BELatina News to interview Joe Minoso, who plays firefighter Joe Cruz on Chicago Fire, was timely as we anticipate this on-screen celebration. The dialogue with Minoso also gave me the opportunity to have an inspiring conversation with the real man behind Joe Cruz as the world gets a close look at the difficult work of first responders during a time of crisis.
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Hey everybody we’ve been receiving some requests from city and state leaders to just spread the message to stay safe. This is an unprecedented situation and it’s time for us to show how we can come together as a country and as a species. Please do everything you can to stay home. We can get through this.
The voice on the phone was instantly recognizable, as it would be to any of his fans. Friendly, engaging, polite, and down-to-earth, Joe Minoso’s personality shined through the phone. The Bronx native has been part of the cast since its beginnings. He represents what is possible when hard work meets determination. My list of questions was ready when the time came for our chat. My goal was to dig a bit deeper to find out who he is as a human being, as well as an actor. I hope you enjoy reading Joe’s interview as much as I loved writing it.
Chicago Fire viewers have seen the evolution of its characters including that of Joe Cruz. The character you play in the series is resilient, strong-willed, witty, kind, empathetic and keeps evolving over the years. In the upcoming episode, he gets his big day, an event that is about to change his life. You have given so much to make the role authentic. What has this role given you over time? How has the show changed your life?
The Chicago Fire experience has been the most influential event in my life. I was an out of work actor prior to joining this cast with zero to my name when starting out. This opportunity gave me so much. This role has given me my first home, it’s where I met and married my wife [Caitlin Murphy Miles], and brought people to my life that I adore. Being part of this show has changed everything for me.
During Season 7, Cruz lost his best friend Otis in a mattress factory explosion. Characters are killed all the time in a series but watching you process your grief, made the plot not only more touching but powerful. Personally, I was in tears as I connected with the character’s pain. I believe in order for actors to provide that level of intensity you displayed, they have to draw from somewhere. Did you? If so, where do you draw from to give us such profound performances?
Thank you very much, a huge compliment. I connected to the idea of loss. Yuri [Otis] has become the best buddy, we were the last two to join the cast. He and I came up like brothers in real life. The reality of his departure got me to recall all the fun times on the set together and how he would no longer be part of that activity every day is the loss I refer to, it helped me to communicate the emotion.
In a 2019 interview, you expressed how proud you are of your Latino roots and representing a positive role model for the Latino community. Many readers may not have had the opportunity to grow up watching positive role models. So, on their behalf, thank you. While on that subject, who has been your biggest influence or TV/Film role model?
I can name several Latino actors, Andy Garcia and John Leguizamo among some on the shortlist; John was raised in New York, as well. He worked his way up from the traditional performer roles getting better and better with each one. You just have to look at his work as Toulouse-Lautrec in Moulin Rouge: underrated.
I know these episodes were filmed prior to productions getting shut down due to COVID-19. First responders have been putting their lives on the line to protect the public long before the pandemic. That being said, has the pandemic shifted your perspective or changed your understanding of the role you play as an actor in the role of a first responder?
I have been playing a first responder for eight years, so my perspective has remained the same. The recent events have solidified how crucial and remarkable they are as people. I hope this pandemic highlights the gratitude owed to first responders for all the work they do for the public. We owe them!
For those that have never watched Chicago Fire, give them one reason to start?
We are an example of humanity and hope at its best, we desperately need a show like this, right now.
Will you indulge me in a round of quickfire questions? If you weren’t an actor, you’d be?
Editor, they write the stories not yet written and hold the soul of a manuscript.
When you are not on set, you are?
Home, I am a homebody.
I read you are originally from NY, the best part about being a New Yorker was?
New Yorkers have a fighting spirit. People are proud of where they come from, these are important values. Being raised in the Bronx, the “hood” I have felt the singular energy that is unique to New York City. There is no one place like it, it carries its own heartbeat.
Your favorite food to eat is?
My mother’s cooking was my favorite food.
Your best childhood memory is?
An open fire hydrant in the city on a hot summer day.
Your one hope for the world in 10 years is?
I hope this experience (coronavirus pandemic, global health crisis, quarantine, social distancing we are living) helps us be better to one another — be better to the globe.
My interview with Joe Minoso was nothing less than exceptional, as he proved to be a high caliber professional and person. Chicago Fire and its cast are a rare gem among the extensive programming that crowds mainstream media. The ensemble’s cohesive and authentic chemistry is key to creating the believable family we tune into every week. I look forward to seeing what happens next with all the characters and invite you to join the audience on Wednesday, April 8th at 9 pm EST on NBC-Universal for another thrilling episode.