Richard Cabral
Actor Richard Cabral attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Latinos are probably one of the most stereotyped minorities in the U.S. Even though the Latino culture has been constantly growing and has accomplished many great things on this side of the border, some are still a bit skeptical about the things our culture can bring to this country.

Actor Richard Cabral is yet another example of what Latinos can do if given the opportunity. “I remember my first thing was ‘CSI:Miami,’ he told NPR. “I played a Cuban gangster. And that was it. I was like: Wow, I don’t have to clean toilets. I could actually dress up and get paid equivalent to that. So that was my introduction into the Hollywood industry.”

But things didn’t come that easy for the Emmy-nominated actor. Growing up in East L.A., Cabral was easily pulled into the Mexican gang lifestyle. When he was 13, he was arrested for the first time after stealing a wallet. “That was it,” he said as he remembered his first arrest. “The breaking point to getting those cuffs behind my wrists, and just realizing: This ain’t all that bad. Because all my male mentors had done that before, so I kind of knew it wasn’t that bad.”

The 31-year-old actor got lost into what seemed normal for someone like him. He joined a street gang, covered himself in tattoos that depicted Mexican gang culture, and became addicted to crack and meth. “You’re trying to find yourself, are getting ready to go to high school and as this world teaches you, you must ‘belong to something,’” he told Indiewire.

Little did he know that the biggest mistake of his life would be what connected him to the entertainment world. “We were out there drinking. It was just some machismo BS. I just happened to have a gun on me that night. We got into that incident, and we ended up just fighting. I remember bringing out that gun – and then I shot,” he said about the night that put him in jail for 5 years.

After serving time for violent assault with a weapon, the “American Crime” star was given a second chance at Homeboy Industries, an L.A. gang-intervention program whose motto is “nothing stops a bullet like a job” and who happened to have a connection with Central Casting. The rest is history.

Cabral has been in TV and film productions such as “Southland,” “A Better Life,” “CSI:Miami,” and the ABC drama, “American Crime,” where he gives life to Hector Tonz. “It was just showing the pain we go through,” Cabral told NPR of his Emmy-nominated role. “And this is not like, oh, yeah, I lived it, so…I got this. No, man, it was a sacrifice, and I really had to a deep, dark place. But I’m honored that I showed that other side.”

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