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Dreamers Are The Ones Who Don’t Sleep


Actor Johnny Ortiz is a Mexican eñye, known for his roles on the hit ABC show American Crime (2015-) and Disney’s film McFarland, USA (2015). At 19, Johnny has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Felicity Huffman, Benjamin Bratt, Kevin Costner, and Maria Bello.

Arriving at stardom however, was not easy. Johnny grew up as a young Latino in L.A. surrounded by gangs, drugs, violence and domestic abuse. All that on top of cultural struggles of he faced coming from a family with parents who crossed the border into the United States from Guatemala and Mexico. After being kicked out of school at the age of 10 and already in and out of gangs, he found himself in jail for two years. After six months of incarceration, Johnny prayed for a chance at a better life. He met Eddie Padilla during that time who helped turn everything around for Johnny and ultimately became his life coach. Johnny firmly believes that if you can see yourself in a better life, make it happen – “Dreamers are the ones who don’t sleep…” If he can do it, so can you, so keep your eyes open. Tell us what you think in the comments below.




Don’t close your eyes, look straight let the air come inside your eyes. Look straight don’t close them people close them. If I did it you can do it.  It’s not how you start in life; it’s how you finish in life.  Look straight, don’t close your eyes, the dreamers are the ones who don’t sleep. I am Johnny Ortiz and I am an actor, I am a brother, a son and I am an eñye. (music) I grew up in a small little town called “Ally Park” My dad is Mexican my mom is from Guatemala. They had to cross the border, pay a Coyote to cross the border that’s how they got here. I always thought I would see myself in three places. It was either jail, in a wheelchair or dead. I grew up in gangs most of my family are in gangs, so just growing up, you know, I was always getting in trouble the first school I got kicked out of I was in third grade and for trying to stab someone with a screwdriver.

Denise: You think if you knew what ñ was and that there was a place that you fit, do you think you would have joined the gang?

Johnny:  I think I joined the gang because of the situation.

Denise:  What was the situation?

Johnny: People don’t know this but growing up I lived in domestic violence, my dad used to beat up my mom and he used to beat me up and I never understood why every time I got kicked out of school or this why couldn’t he just talk to me, why did he hit me. Stuff like this is reality I see my sister wanting to eat, she was hungry and just being in bed and say ‘what do I do?’ That’s what led me to the streets, that’ what made me go robbing people. That’s what made me go gang banging, that’s what led me into bad stuff. I went to jail and I was there for two years and I was saying to myself ‘what am I— we gotta do something for ourselves and literally after six months being in there, being domingo perfect, I got on my knees literally every day and pray to God and say ‘if you give me one more chance if show me I can do it, I’ll do it. Don’t close your eyes look straight let the air come inside your eyes and then you state feeling the emotion, you know, ( singing Happy Birthday)  >> Make a wish.  I always wanted to be an actor. I remember being five years old and I called 411 and I asked ‘how do you become an actor?’

Denise:  And how old are you now?”

Johnny:  I am 18-23. That’s my range and Eddie Padilla, you know, the school the substitute teacher came often and I asked them how you become an actor. “oh, you know what, for career day I am going to bring an actor.” and he brought this actor named Eddie Padilla who is now my life coach and my second dad. I went through a messed up situation. I never thought I’d be acting for my life and that’s what I love to do. It’s a dream come through. You create if you want to be happy, if you want to be sad, if you want to be mad. I always took that and all the negative vibe, people used tell me that I wasn’t gonna make it, I used that and feed into myself to make myself stronger. This is what people need to see. and the more people like me talk like this and help people out and show them that we can do it and, you know, give people the resources. Dreams are possible. You can do anything as long as you put your mind and your soul and your heart, anything is possible. Don’t close your eyes the dreamers are the ones who don’t sleep.

Do you know an eñye with an amazing story? Tweet at us using #soyeñye so we can connect with you! Or join our private Facebook group to connect with other eñyes and share your story!

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