Jencarlos Canela has been making women swoon since his soap opera days, but the Cuban-American is the first to say that he is a singer first and foremost.
This is why when he was first pitched a role in Eva Longoria's workplace comedy “Telenovela” he had to decline.
“I was in Mexico doing a music show, I was getting a tour ready. When they first brought the show to my attention – Eva (Longoria) wasn’t in the picture – and with all due respect I declined not because I didn’t want to do it, I was just more focused on prepping the tour that I was about to do,” Canela told Fox News Latino recently.
But then a phone call changed it all.
“I will never forget. Eva calls my phone and I’m like ‘who’s this’ ‘Eva Longoria’ and I was like, ‘What? Who’s this? Yeah, sure,’” he recalled. “But it was her and she kind of explained to me what the whole thing was about. She was like ‘You are going to be playing my co-star’ and I was like ‘Stop right there girl.’ I’m down. I’m game.”
In “Telenovela,” the 27-year-old plays Xavi Castillo, the ex-husband of Longoria’s Ana Sofia, a self-involved star of a popular Spanish-language soap opera who doesn’t actually speak Spanish.
“I love Eva. She is an amazing human being – she’s so intelligent, so smart, so funny,” Canela gushed. “It’s been an honor. I’ve learned so much by her side. The cast is amazing. The writers are amazing. This show is amazing.”
Canela is not a stranger to television, but he said that doing comedy is a far cry from his drama days on telenovelas.
“I love drama, but comedy is just so much fun. I get to make fun of myself — which I am good at making fun at myself,” he said.
“Telenovela,” which premiered earlier this year and airs on Monday nights, is one of the handful of shows with a predominately Latino cast. Canela said he loves being part of the movement that is pushing the boundaries of diversity to new levels.
“I feel like ‘yeah, I’m 100 percent Latino’ and I’m proud of that but I’m 100 percent American and I am proud of that,” he said. “When I hear both languages – Spanish and English – anywhere in the world, I feel at home. … To see that in my country it’s becoming natural to see human beings without looking at color, without looking at race, culture, just play these roles that can be played by anyone and they are starting to see that Latino does not only mean brown … I’m proud of that.”
However, Canela never strays long from his singing roots and recently released his new reggae pop single “Baby” featuring Lennox. Since its release, the song hit the No. 1 stop on iTunes in Central America.
“We can’t be happier. I grew up listening to reggae and tropical music,” he said. “We make that fusion and we are proud to say that we have a sound and an identity, which is what every artist dreams of. We are blessed that people are accepting it the way they are and they are dancing to it.”
The single is part of Canela’s upcoming English-language album – his first – and he has teamed up with Republic Records to record it.
“We are putting together an album that is incredibly special. I can’t wait to share it,” he said. “I have always expressed myself with music, it’s who I am.”
Lucia I. Suarez Sang is the Entertainment Editor for Fox News Latino. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang