Engineering a career in show business

While he’s used to playing a variety of roles, Richmond’s Manny Jacinto is thankful to currently be living a single career life as an actor.

For years, the 27-year-old was a civil engineering student by day and hip-hop dancer and actor at night.

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But now that the performing jobs are coming in on a much more steady basis for Jacinto, who was born in the Philippines and moved with his family to Richmond when he was three, he  is focused on seeing where his show business career path can take him.

“It was definitely an interesting time. While I was studying at UBC during the day I’d be working as an intern with companies working on projects like the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, and the new Port Mann Bridge,” Jacinto said. “Then at night I’d be doing the hip-hop thing. I was living two pretty separate lives.”

Earlier this week, Jacinto’s acting side came to the forefront as the Lifetime cable channel broadcast its production of The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story.

It followed the lives of the actors from the popular 80s teen sitcom, examining how fame and fortune at a young age affected their lives.

Jacinto played a character named Eric who befriends actor Dustin Diamond who played Screech in Saved By The Bell.

“Eric is a bad guy, essentially,” Jacinto said. “He gets Dustin into drinking and smoking weed, all the time trying to further his own career.”

The role of a villain was new to Jacinto who has in a short time piled up a list of acting credits in a host of locally shot productions.

His first break came on ABC’s Once Upon a Timewhich regularly uses Steveston Village as the fictitious town of Storybrooke.

“I went into the audition, totally nervous, but they liked what I did and offered me a role as a co-star in an episode,” he said.

He’s also appeared in other local productions such as CW Network’s The 100where he had a recurring role, and Supernatural. And soon he will be appearing in the Fox Network’s new show called Wayward Pines.

“Right now I am going to follow my heart, to be honest, and acting and performing is what I want to do,” he said. “It’s what get’s me up in the morning. And right now, things are going pretty well.

“I always have the engineering degree in my back pocket. But for now, it’s full on acting.”

So far, the performing side is winning out and has included a taste of feature film work after being cast in the upcoming Hector and the Search for Happiness where he was supposed to perform alongside British actor Simon Pegg (Scotty, in the re-booted Star Trek feature films), but work permit issues in China, where his scenes were shot last year, forced a last-minute recasting.

Despite that hiccup, it didn’t keep Jacinto from being exposed to the big time film business and Pegg, to whom he taught a few hip-hop lessons.

“Simon is a really down to earth guy who actually has a lot of rhythm,” he said. “As a performer he really goes for it. He doesn’t hhold anything back. And he picked up a few moves.”

While Jacinto is proud of his local roots, he is aiming to move down to Los Angeles to expand his performing options.

“I still want to retain a home base here. But the dream is to be able to do what I love, but at the same time be able to inspire others,” he said, “especially ethnic actors, because I find it’s hard for them to make that step because there still exists in the business a stigma that you may not have the right look.”

“I want to be an example to people who want to pursue a career in the arts.”

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