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Angel Becoming an Actor was Nothing Short of Divine Intervention

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Angel Bismark Curiel, starring as Lil Papi on FX’s “Pose” found humor to be an effective outlet to hide his insecurities early in life.  

“I was unsure of where I fit in.  I relied on humor to find a place,” he recalled. “I made others laugh to be liked.  I was the cute court jester.  If everyone around me was laughing, no one paid attention to my insecurities, my struggles.  It was the perfect distraction.”

He also didn’t enjoy going to school.

“When I was in high school, I skipped class because I was bored.  I only went to school out of obligation and stayed to crack jokes with my boys and flirt with girls.  Those were my singular interests,” he admitted.  Ironically, it would be this lack of regard for school that would eventually propel his career forward.

Curiel said, “It wasn’t until I got caught ditching class in my sophomore year that I began to assume a different role.  In the hall, I was met by my former English teacher, Ms. Perkins, who supervised the drama department.  Listen: Perkins and I didn’t get along.  We butted heads so hard because my humor, my big personality, and my energetic spirit was disruptive in her class.  That day, she gave me two options for cutting class: the principal’s office or her classroom.”

For the first time, he chose the classroom.  He said, “When I entered her classroom, there were about a dozen girls seated, eager to read Tennessee Williams’ ‘Rose Tattoo.’  She handed me a play and assigned me the role of Alvaro Mangiacavallo, the leading man.  I sat next to a girl I had a crush on…I can’t remember any of Alvaro’s lines or my exact delivery of them, but I remember the sound of the girls giggling, the warmth of their smiles, the glisten of their eyes.  They were eating up my line readings, enjoying spending time with my character – and with me…After that reading, Perkins suggested that I audition for the play.  I enjoyed being around those girls and the affirmation they gave me so much that I didn’t only audition – I joined the drama department.  I had found my passion for performance as a young person, a gift that Perkins’ insight and intervention provided for me.”

Curiel believes that school is about finding who you are rather than who you’re supposed to be.  “Good teachers like Perkins push you by helping you lean in even further into who you already are.  They give you something of interest, recognizing something in you before you can see it yourself,” he said.  After that point, Curiel was forced to stick with the books.  “If I wanted to compete in drama competitions, I needed good grades to do so.  So, I showed up every day.  I stayed in all my classes.  I went to tutoring after school.”

Perkins eventually asked the budding actor what he planned to do after he graduated to which he responded he would do the only thing he believed was a real option for him – join the army.  She replied, “Angel, you will do more good in this life with a script in your hand than a rifle.”  And, with that, he decided to study drama at Pace University until dropping out three years later after landing his role as a series regular on “Pose.”

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