ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bullying has been at the forefront of discussions about youths growing up in today’s society.
The new film “Geography Club” touches on the lives of contemporary teenagers as they discover their own sexual identities, dreams and values.
And Albuquerque resident Teo Olivares, who plays Brian Bund, has a role in the independent film, which opens Friday at the Screen in Santa Fe. It will be released in Albuquerque in a few weeks.
“Geography Club” follows a group of teens who find common ground in the Geography Club – an organization for outcasts.
Joining Brian in the club is Russell, who is hiding his relationship with the star quarterback, Kevin, by dating girls. Then there are Min and Terese, who are secretly dating, but tell the school they are best friends.
And there’s Ike, who can’t figure out who he is or who he wants to be.
Olivares said the group in the film came together so the members could simply be who they are.
The film is based on Brent Hartinger’s best-selling “Russel Middlebrook” series.
“The thing that was interesting for me was that playing the character was difficult, exciting and eye opening,” Olivares said. “I had never experienced any form of bullying in school. I had seen it but never happened to me firsthand.”
Olivares, 23, said he’s grown up in the film industry and has never had a problem with homosexuality.
“This film is showing teens that it does get better,” he said. “There’s an important message to this film, and I’m glad I’ve been a part of it. We can’t really hide who we really are. Sure times get rough, but it’s how we come out of these circumstances that matters most.”
Olivares filmed the movie in Los Angeles, where he lives part time.
Though born in Medford, Ore., he grew up in the Duke City and at the age of 7 joined the Albuquerque Boy Choir. Then at age 12 he got a scholarship from Diane Hardin’s Young Actors Space in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and went to study there.
He split his time between the two areas and often spent a semester in Albuquerque and one in L.A.
While in Albuquerque, Olivares attended Double Eagle Elementary and then Desert Ridge Middle School.
“It was a tough schedule,” he said. “But I wanted to make it in the film industry and I had to do what was needed and endured a lot of traveling.”
Olivares also has appeared in Judy Blume’s “Tiger Eyes” as well as the Nickelodeon series, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide.”
Aside from films, Olivares is a trained musician and is working on an EP to be released in January.
“I’m going to take the plunge and share it with the world,” he says. “I’ve been studying music production as well and hope that everyone enjoys it.”
Olivares said though he lives in Los Angeles, Albuquerque will always be his home.
“My family still has a home out there,” he says. “Plus, it’s always nice to come back home and have all the green chile saved up for me.”