Gun Hill Road: Esai Morales, Rashaad Ernesto Green Take on Stereotypes, Love and Family

Gun Hill Road is a long stretch of the Bronx flanked by the incessant, chaotic, soothing thrum of the 2 and 5 trains. Gritty and not always easy to understand, it might not be for everyone. But the area, like any other, has a story to tell.

The movie, titled after its namesake, could be described in much the same manner.

Gun Hill Road is a low-budget independent film by Rashaad Ernesto Green, a three-time recipient of a scholarship from the National Hispanic Center for the Arts. Through his connection with the foundation, Green met Esai Morales, whom he had always admired.

When Green presented Morales with the script to the movie, the veteran actor's reaction was an emotional one.

"I read a script that made me cry, that made me feel, that made me happy to be a human being," Morales told Fox News Latino.

Morales said that the movie deals not with sexual orientation but with gender identity.

"When a little boy stares into a mirror at 3 years old and says ‘Mami, I see a girl,’ you know that’s not a joke," he said. "Often times that’s a lifelong sentiment."

For Green, the film was borne of hardship close to him, with a family that is close to his heart.

"Many of the family members have seen the film and there were a lot of tears when it happened," Green told Fox News Latino. "And the funny thing is that it has brought that family together in a way that might not have necessarily happened had it not been for the film."

Lance Rios, the founder of Being Latino, the largest Facebook fan page for Latinos, spoke with the cast and posted a video preview in preparation for the film's release. He said Being Latino felt the need to showcase Gun Hill Road because it was offering something that could resonate with the Latino community in a unique way.

"The most important thing was that the movie was authentic and not perpetuating stereotypes which Hollywood has done for some time," Rios said.

"It’s a story that’s not just applicable to Latinos in New York City. It’s a story that’s very universal. It has the opportunity to touch a lot of people."

"It shows hope for a lot of Latinos that feel that they can do these humongous things," Rios said.

"Like becoming a director and doing a movie with Esai Morales. That you can do something like that is very much in line with what Being Latino is about."

And asked what he hopes people will take from his movie, Green said: "If you walk away and understand that love and family come first, that's all that I could hope for."

"Especially within our culture, with our traditional background and religious background especially, it's hard to accept people who are living a certain lifestyle," he said.

"But when that person is in your family, or if that person is your child, we are then asked a question: 'What if it were you?'"

Alexandra Gratereaux of Fox News Latino provided additional reporting for this article. Contact her at or via Twitter @GalexLatino

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at or on Twitter @RealAdrianC.

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