Efraín Villa makes the best of every situation.
When it came to being on the set of the TV series, “Primo,” he thrived on set.
“It’s really cool to be a part of this project,” Villa says. “The show is a piece of art that resonates with the functional dysfunction.”
Villa, an Albuquerque resident, was cast as one of the main characters on the Freevee series, which filmed in Albuquerque last year.
The series is collaboration between author Shea Serrano and Michael Schur. The entire first season will drop on Friday, May 19, on the new streamer: Freevee.
The series’ eight episodes were entirely shot in Albuquerque last spring and summer and feature many local actors.
Villa, who is cast as Mondo, is one of the series regulars in the ensemble, single-camera comedy.
Although Albuquerque’s landscapes and neighborhoods will be immediately recognizable to viewers, the Duke City doubles as a stand-in for San Antonio, Texas, where Serrano grew up and based the autobiographically inspired show.
The coming-of-age story centers on Rafa Gonzales, played by Ignacio Diaz-Silverio, a 16-year-old being raised by his clever mother, played by Christina Vidal, and his five well-intentioned – but ultra-intense – uncles, each of whom have staked a unique identity in the crowded family cluster.
Villa says Mondo is the earthy, drifter uncle prone to philosophical musings on the universe. His carefree attitude is usually in juxtaposition to the Gonzales’ domestic chaos, but his bohemian lifestyle also adds an element of harmony to the home.
“Getting the opportunity to bring such a complex and whimsical, yet grounded, character to life has been the biggest privilege of my acting career,” Villa says. “I’ve had a ton of unconventional and outlandish jobs in my life that I have absolutely adored, but working on ‘Primo’ is one of the most fun and fulfilling things I’ve ever been lucky enough to be paid to do. I think the pleasure comes from the love there is on set whether the cameras are rolling or not. Shea, the other producers, the hair and makeup artists, and the insanely talented New Mexico crew – they’re all such a joy to be around. Also, I’m very proud of the fact that I scored this amazing role without having to leave the state, and I hope that these types of casting decisions getting made means that the state is moving into a higher tier in the entertainment industry in which making a living as an actor in New Mexico is an accessible path for more people.”
Villa began acting as a child in regional theater productions and in local marketing campaigns. He took an acting hiatus while pursuing other careers, including marketing director at the New Mexico Tourism Department and freelance travel writer. After years of backpacking his way through five continents, and volunteering in several countries, he returned to his hometown and began acting professionally. He also owns a crisis communications firm specializing in supporting Indigenous communities within the United States.
“I’m nervous and excited to see what viewers will get from the series,” Villa says. “There’s so much power in storytelling and I’m rooting for it to make a connection.”
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