This week’s Celeb is a triple threat! In his fourth year of college, he’s not just a hard-working student; he’s an actor, a gymnastics trainer and judge, too!
Name: Derrick J. Hernández Morales
Hometown: Moca, Puerto Rico
HCUPR: Tell us a little about yourself.
Derrick: I’m from Moca, located on the west side of Puerto Rico. I find myself to be outgoing and open-minded. I enjoy traveling and learning from all types of cultures and experiences immensely. At the age of 6 I began my career as a gymnast. It was hard for both me and my family; we struggled to make ends meet financially because we had to drive Mondays through Saturdays a total of 4 hours to the gym I trained in. I’ve always been very active, both physically and mentally, which has helped shape the person I am today. If there was ever a time when we were lacking financially or I wasn’t doing well physically, I always pushed through in order to excel in what I loved to do and in what I believed in.
HCUPR: From gymnast to actor, huh? Tell us, did you always want to act?
Derrick: I have loved acting since I was a boy, but it was only as a college student that I had my first experience. I originally planned to make a career in medicine, but, as things happen, this stopped being my goal when one afternoon, while I waited for my photography class to begin, some actors came out through the Drama department door and whizzed past me. It looked like they were reciting the lines of a play while wielding swords. It was witnessing that image that made me fall in love with drama, witnessing how people gave life to a text, donating their bodies in order to play the part. It was like an explosion of possibilities! The day after my encounter, I did the necessary arrangements to change my concentration. And since then, I’ve been serving the character.
HCUPR: You were in the play, Las Brujas de Salem recently, right? What was it about?
Derrick: Las Brujas de Salem, written by Arthur Miller in the 50s and directed by Jacqueline Duprey, tells us about the events that occurred in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. A group of young women created a frenzy, accusing anyone that looked like they practiced witch craft. As you can imagine, religion was very strict back then, and so together, the law and the Church started a “witch hunt.” After hysteria plagued the town, its people began accusing one another, some driven more by revenge than an actual reason. The punishment for the accused consisted in their hanging after long hours of interrogation. Arthur Miller wrote it [in order to relate it to a then-contemporary] event, McCarthyism.
HCUPR: Wow! I wish I hadn’t missed it in the theater! Have you participated in any other plays?
Derrick: In December 2013, I was a part of STATUS: Noche Buena, directed by Eric Yamil Cruz. The director’s goal was to expose contemporary situations, problems, andtheir ramifications within youth social circle. I was also a part of a performance activity called Idea Nexo, where three poetic classes (Ephemeral Art, Gender and Performance) came together to present their pieces to the public. And now I’m in the process of creating an experimental play in November. Details coming soon!
HCUPR: That’s incredible. Good luck on your new acting and creating ventures! Now tell us, where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
Derrick: I see myself acting internationally, as well as in Puerto Rico; a process of learning: enriching and being enriched through experience.
HCUPR: Do you participate in any extracurricular activities?
Derrick: Other than acting and performing, I’ve become involved with contemporary, experimental and classical dancing, investigating human movement through spontaneity and fluidity. I’m also a gymnastics trainer and an artistic gymnastics judge. In my free time I like to rock climb, and enjoyably suffer from the wanderlust syndrome.
HCUPR: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors and actresses?
Derrick: For those climbing like I am, and for those that will, I advise you be like water: fluid and able to take any shape. Do not hold on to a specific acting philosophy; do not limit yourself with theory. Feel the character’s energy, embody them, experiment, play, live, and again, do not limit yourself. “El agua, si se estanca, se pudre.” Said Chief Alfonsito.
HCUPR: Okay, last question, although definitely not the least important: what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Derrick: Coconut! I love coconut!
And that’s Derrick Hernández, ladies and gents! HCUPR wishes him the best in his acting career!