E.J. Bonita Talks 'Mamitas' & Being Latino in Hollywood

The new independent movie “Mamitas” takes us to the Latino neighborhoods of East L.A. and the colorful streets of Echo Park.

But when audiences first hear the title they may not know what to think. The word Mamitas conjures different images and memories that range from sweet Abuelitas cooking in the kitchen, to what construction workers might say to describe attractive females walking down the street.

Fox News Latino went straight to the source and asked the movies lead actor, E.J. Bonita, exactly how the title relates to the movie.

“It’s about all of these things, its about Jordin and all the women in his life that include his peers, the women he tries to date and hook up with, to his teachers, to his mother who passed away when he was born,” said Bonita.

At its core, the movie is a coming-of-age romance between a cocky high school student (E.J. Bonita) and his smart, no-nonsense classmate Felipa (Veronica Díaz-Carranza).

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Throughout the course of the film, Bonita’s character, Jordin Juarez, struggles to create real and honest connections with women. A difficult task since he didn’t have a strong female role model in his life, as his father and grandfather raised him after his mother died during childbirth.

Written and directed by first time director Nicholas Ozeki, the “Mamitas'” cast also includes seasoned actors such as Joaquim de Almedia (Fast Five), Jennifer Esposito (TV’s Blue Bloods), Jesse Garcia (The Avengers) and the late Pedro Armendáriz Jr., who died of cancer last December before the movie's opening. He played Jordin's loving grandfather.

"For an actor to have the right to have all the ego in the world, he had none” Bonita tells Fox News Latino, “he was in it to make a good movie.”

Bonita said he felt honored to have worked with Armendáriz.

"I wish he had a chance to see 'Mamitas' in a theatre with an audience,” he said.

The film was a great opportunity for Bonita, who cut his teeth on television shows such as Law & Order and Cold Case.

But this role represented his first lead. The young Puerto Rican actor was also a series regular on “Guiding Light” for two and a half years.

“A Soap Opera is an amazing training ground, especially for a young actor,” Bonita tells Fox News Latino.

"When you are shooting on a soap you are allowed to make mistakes and you’re forgiven quickly because there’s another show the next day,” he explains.

The 23-year-who was born and raised in New York and is a Brooklyn boy at heart, says that he doesn’t want to be categorized as a Latino actor because it’s limiting.

“Race shouldn’t matter, but the fact is that most of the time it still does in this industry,” says Bonita. “If a story is about the human condition, the actor should be able to be of any background.”

“Mamitas” director Nicholas Ozeki is a great example of how an artist can write about other cultures and still get their point across.

“I thank writers like Nicholas Ozeki, he’s a Japanese-American who wrote a story about Mexicans from L.A.” added Bonita. “Boundaries are being crossed in beautiful ways.”

“Mamitas” was Nicholas Ozeki’s USC thesis film, adapted from his short by the same name. Ozeki was a nominee for this years “Someone to Watch Award” at the prestigious 2012 Independent Spirit Awards. The film was also seen at festivals across the country to excellent response. Ozeki is currently working on a thriller.

“Mamitas” is Rated R and opens in limited release on April 27th.

Naibe Reynoso is a freelance reporter from Los Angeles, California.  She can be reached via her twitter @NaibeReynoso

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