An actor with ties to Throggs Neck is staring in one of Netflix’s most popular series.
Throggs Neck native Berto Colon plays ‘Ceasar’ in Orange is the New Black, a drama about women in prison and the people in their lives.
Colon, a former football player at Lehman High School, and a graduate of Fordham University and I.S. 192, says that he continues to have close friends in the borough.
“Growing up in the Bronx, there was never a dull moment,” he said, adding that it was a good place to grow up and that you had to grow up fast.
He migrated to the states in the 1980s as a child from his native Puerto Rico, settling in the Bronx in the mid-1980s after his mother landed a job at the Veterans Administration in New York City.
He said that some of the things he remembers about life in the borough were block parties; and a graduation party he had upon completing his high school education.
Playing football at Lehman was certainly an anchor of his time growing up in the borough, he indicated.
“Playing football at Lehman High School was probably the best memory,” he said, adding that he also fondly recalls outings in Ferry Point Park, riding a mountain bike at Orchard Beach and his dirt bike as a teenager.
On Orange is the New Black, he plays a drug dealer who is involved with two of the prisoners
The first is Aleida, an inmate who deals drugs on his behalf and takes the rap for him.
After she is incarcerated, her daughter, a character named Daya, becomes his new flame.
In real life, Colon is married to his college sweetheart Lara and has two daughters, Sofia and Laila.
According to the film and television information site IMDb he has also stared in television shows like Made in Jersey, NYC 22 and Blue Bloods on CBS and Nurse Jackie on Showtime. He has appeared in numerous films including, 2013’s Two Night Stand.
“I have been very lucky,” he said of his career. “I have been out there (in the field) for a long time and the work has been steadily and progressively growing.”
For people who have talent and want to break into acting, Colon recommends that they learn their craft by seeing live performances in the theater, as well as taking a look at both older and newer films.
“I think the main thing is to study and learn your craft, and to have a social awareness that is necessary to do this kind of work,” said Colon. “It is a study of human behavior.”
He urges aspiring actors to enrich their ‘palates’ by expanding their experiences, and said that there is no one direct path to being a success in the profession.
As for his role on Orange is the New Black, he said that he did not know what to expect when he started because producing original content for streaming video was a new thing when he auditioned.
Now he feels that the Orange ensemble have elevated issues faced by women in prison in an episodic drama, including issues facing lesbian and transgender characters.