EXCLUSIVE: Ismael Cruz Cordova Talks Growing up in Puerto Rico, Working with Danny Trejo & More!

Ismael Cruz Cordova hit the New York City pavement in 2006 to attend New York University's Tish School. The 26-year-old Boricua has since been making strides in the world of acting. He starred as Jimmy Patrick on the CBS drama The Good Wife, he's playing new character Mando on Sesame Street, and he's preparing to make his big screen debut in the upcoming film In the Blood.

We sat down with Cordova to discuss his journey into acting, growing up in Puerto Rico and working with fellow Latinos Danny Trejo and Amaury Nolasco. Check out our exclusive below (With additional reporting by Ana Luisa Suarez):

What was it like growing up in Puerto Rico?

It was a lot of things. While I was growing up it was very hard, because we were a family of very little means. Growing up we faced a lot of struggles. But in hindsight, it was such a beautiful thing! I would say I grew up so privileged because it gave me the opportunity to see the world completely different. The place where I grew up, in the mountains removed from so many things, and the things that at the moment I didn’t think were cool are the things I want now, like cows and horses and peace and quiet. It was beautiful in that sense. It was challenging and galvanizing to create art because it’s not that easy. It’s not easy to express yourself through the creative field and creative activities, so that fueled a lot of what I do now. It fuels a lot of what I want to do -- to have the voice of the people I represent be heard.

So when you moved to New York City in 2006, did you experience any culture shock?

Yes! [Laughs] In many ways I felt like it was so familiar, because you meet all these people that are into all the same things as you. They appreciate and have the same interests. But at the same time, I did not speak English as well as I do now. It was a bit challenging, and going into that academic setting right away as well, I was overwhelmed by all this foreign tongue. Also, the values are different in New York; you have all these different cultures interacting. It took me a second, or three years, to adjust, but right now it is truly one of my homes.

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