Sometimes it takes a good villain to make a good show great, and that’s what is going down on this season of Star. William Levy joined the show this year as Mateo Ferrera, taking over the record label and sowing the seeds of discord to boost the biz and his own power. Mateo is a sexy, smooth talking, first generation American determined to be a success. And to a certain degree, it’s art imitating life.
The Business of Business
“I think every night is special on Star. I really believe so.” He may be new to the show, but it seems William has gotten the vibe. Each episode tries to out do the previous one, and adding his conniving character has amped up the season three drama.
“Ticket sales are going down, so he needs to make something happen.” He told The Cocktail his character is serious about success .. at any cost. “He’s very aggressive when it comes to business. He does it all the time without thinking the consequences. Obviously he has principles as a man, as a cuban immigrant. He thinks at the bottom of it all he’s doing everything for business.”
But he insists Mateo believes a rising tide lifts all boats, saying “At the end of the day it’s not only good for him, or the company, but for the artists too.”
Of course, if you’re gonna make an omelette, you’re gonna have to break a few eggs, and in this metaphor, the eggs are the singers. “Obviously he believes in this business, sometimes you have to make noise for people to go and watch and tune in. He’s trying to make a little bit of noise. The girls are not happy with it. It’s going to be very problematic.”
And let’s face it, they already had enough drama of their own before Mateo showed up. “It just comes to the artists, they get a little bit upset. I think Matteo thinks they need to get a tougher skin. In his way of seeing life, he’s been through so much.”
From Mateo’s point of view, they’re just way too soft. “Anything that they’re going through right now does not compare, will never compare to what he went through in life. That’s why he’s like ‘you guys need to get a little tougher skin, you know.'”
And William promises: he’s just getting started. “I can’t wait for people in the audience to see through the whole season. How his character shows the real person he is. It’s going to be very fun.”
His Life Imitates His Art
Of course, Star, and its creator, Lee Daniels, have never shied away from social issues and reflecting society. And that’s one of the things that drew William to the role. “We touch so many real life issues that we go through as a society.”
William was born in Cuba and made it to America when he was 14. And while his hot look translates from any language, he was not immune from the challenges that come with moving to a new country. And like Mateo, he has something to prove.
“Personally, my character has a lot to show as an immigrant. That’s one of the things I love about the show. I can use it, obviously, to touch real issues that we go through as immigrants in this country today.”
And he uses the show to seize every opportunity to show what it’s like for Americans that often are ignored on TV and in society.”In every single way. As an immigrant. As an American. The issues that we go through every day that we touch in the show. I think people can sit down and learn from it. Probably find some answers if you have any questions when it comes to these kinds of issues. I believe this show can change people’s perspective. And that’s what I like about this show.”
And it all starts at the top, from the network to Lee, to the writers and fellow cast members. “That’s one of the things they do here, and I really, really love that. In a way, like Matteo, which is one of the things that I felt and related to myself, one of the things we like about this industry is we can use it as a platform to show real life stuff, you know.”
With the show about to wrap shooting for the holiday hiatus, we wanted to know if he’ll be leaving the cold location shoots of New York and going someplace warm. Our hunch was correct. “I’m going down to Miami to see my kids.”
Like many Cuban immigrants, he has plenty of family in south Florida. And his Thanksgiving meal may reflect the old country! “I don’t know if I’m going to be having anything more than a cuban sandwich but I’ll be down there.”
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
A Mojito Frappé. The best mojito I ever had was at a paladar in Havana. The family ran the restaurant out of their home and served up this amazing frozen drink. I never had anything like it before or since. The mojito is the national drink of our friend William, and we raise our glass in his honor!