For as far back as he can remember, Jesse Camacho wanted to act. He grew up watching his parents – well-respected thesps Mark Camacho and Pauline Little – grace our city’s stages and jumbo screens, but they were initially reluctant to let him have a go at it. “Yeah, it was totally the opposite of stage parents,” Camacho tells me with a chuckle back in April, as The Trotsky’s Quebec promo campaign was just getting underway. “When I was 8 years old, they got tired of me begging, and they were like, okay, it’s really up to you.”

While eight years old might have seemed ancient at the time for little Jesse, it’s by most standards quite a precocious age for having your heart dead set on a long-term career. And the driven Westmount High grad wasted no time bolstering his resume with a savoury platter of credits, namely Hatley High and Fries with that (the equivalent to YTV’s early 90s’ Are you afraid of the dark? in terms of launch pad potential for local Anglo kids.)      

Makin’ waves at home and abroad

Then in 1995, Camacho gave a riveting performance in director Michael Cuesta (Six Feet Under, Dexter)’s follow up to L.I.E., a harrowing coming-of-age film called Twelve and Holding. If you’re reading this profile, it's because his terrific turn as an insecure suburban kid spawned a ripple effect. Camacho’s noteworthy performance – his first ever big screen role – caught the eye of a casting agent responsible for scouting talent on what would eventually become HBO’s Less Than Kind.

As a wise 15-year-old Jewish kid living in a most dysfunctional family unit in the heart of bloody cold Winnipeg, Camacho carries the critically acclaimed show, no less. What’s more, he’s been championed for his incredible comic timing and willingness to poke fun at his hefty frame on the show – a contemporary The Wonder Years, made in Canada and beefed up with dark, irreverent humour.

The show kicks off its third season in the fall, meaning Camacho will have to take an extended leave from his studies at Dawson College. But whether it’s shooting in Winnipeg or L.A., the sympathetic young man clearly has his eye on the prize. “Acting is always tough, because it’s never consistent work,” he says. “Montreal is my home, it always will be, but I want to act, so I’ll go wherever I need to. Obviously, they say L.A. is the place, but I think Montreal also has a lot to offer. A lot of great projects come here, like The Trotsky, so I think you can do it here.”

Not blinded by the
lights, not one bit
Camacho, who also clocks in substantial screen time in Jacob Tierney’s clever The Trotsky, clearly knows where he stands along the casting continuum. Taking after his parents, whom he considers to be great character actors, he’s realistic about his Hollywood expectations. “My parents are a great inspiration to me, because that’s also where I see myself. As much as I’d like to be, I don’t think many people see me as a leading man. I look up to people like Jay Baruchel, who’s also a great character actor.”

He isn’t ruling out theatre either, an avenue Camacho is interested in pursuing more adamantly as he gets older. “There’s not much theatre in Montreal for someone my age,” says the Dynamic Theatre Factory-trained thesp. “When there are parts, it seems like more often than not they’re casting a 26 year-old to look 18. But I’d love to do more theater. I mean, the dream would obviously be to do something on Broadway, but I’d be happy with doing something at the Centaur.” Got that, Mister Surette?

The Trotsky

In theatres

Less Than Kind
Third season this fall on HBO

To read our Class of 2010 feature in its entirety, click here.

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