From Soap Star to Producer: Sebastián Zurita Talks About His Start in Entertainment
Mexican actor Sebastián Zurita was born into the arts. “It’s weird because I don’t really know any other type of upbringing,” he chuckles. “For me, it was natural. Back in the day, it was the golden era of soap operas and TV back in Mexico. We couldn’t go out that much, the day-to-day was going to sets and being in the movies. It was really interesting for a kid to watch and grow up around that, but also, you have the thing that your family is really public and there are small private moments. It’s kind of a weird upbringing in a way, but I loved it,” he says. His mother, Christian Bach, and father, Humberto Zurita --both household names-- introduced him to an industry he would fall in love with at a young age.
Now 33 years old, Sebastián founded Addiction House, a production company, with his younger brother Emiliano. This summer, they launched the mini-series Cómo Sobrevivir Soltero on Amazon Prime —which Sebastián wrote, co-directed, and starred in. But Sebastián still remembers the days when he would hound his parents about casting him in the soap operas they produced. All he wanted to do was act. “I knew since I was a little kid that I was going to be an actor. I enjoyed being on set so much, just pretending to play different characters,” he says. “‘You have to be a kid. You’re going to have plenty of time to work. And now, you have to educate yourself and play around,’” he recollects his parents telling him. After a lot of asking, Sebastián finally got his wish. At 10 years old, he made his first television appearance on Cañaveral de Pasiones. He remembers his parents telling him, “If you really like it, we will support you” —and they did.
Even though his parents had successful careers, they managed to make time for Emiliano and him. “Both my parents would take turns, depending on who was working, the other one would stay home. Something they did was that if I had a competition or anything, they made sure they would always prioritize family first.” Family has always been important to Sebastián, which is why it’s no surprise that he teamed up with his brother to create Cómo Sobrevivir Soltero.
Before Sebastián made it big on Amazon Prime, he worked on many Mexican soap operas and films. “When I was in college in Miami, there was an open casting for a movie in Mexico. I decided to go, and I landed the lead role,” says Sebastián. “I landed the role without ever studying acting.” As he got more serious about his acting career, he decided to go to Los Angeles to study at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute. “I really decided to make this my career. Ángel Caído was the first one I ever did. It almost took eight years to come out,” says Sebastián. “That movie ran out of money. Then, I went to do a shoot, and that’s when I found out I was pretty good at getting money. So, I got the money for the movie from investors and that’s how I got a production credit. That’s how the production idea started.
En nombre del amor was Sebastián’s first main role on a soap opera. At the time, he was 22 years old, and he got a call from the network. “They saw a trailer of this movie, but the movie [Ángel Caído] never came out. I went into the office, they gave me the script to see if I liked it, and I decided to do it. It was intense because I was coming from a theater background.”
Suddenly, Sebastián had four cameras pointing at him and was filming fifty scenes a day. “It was very different from what I had studied. The producer was nervous that I wasn’t going to make it. We have in-ears in Mexico, and I couldn’t use it --you have to learn to use them. They are feeding you everyone’s lines.” Sebastián told the producer he wanted to go by memory, but memorizing 40 sheets a day was very hard. For a month, Sebastián tried going by memory, then the producer gradually gave him more scenes every day. In his free time, Sebastián learned to be comfortable with the in-ear during filming. For the next few years, Sebastián moved from one soap opera to the next. He was in Corazón Salvaje, La Impostora, and Lo Imperdonable to name a few. Then, he began to work in films more, appearing in Amor de mis Amores, Una Selfie, 3 Idiotas, Todo Mal.
But Sebastián always knew he wanted to do something else. He wanted to make his own rules and make his own content, which is how his production company, Addiction House, was born. And so Cómo Sobrevivir Soletero was launched under his production company. The project is very close to him, since the mini-series has many scenes inspired by Sebastián’s own life and experiences. “It came from me going on a guy’s trip to this beach,” he says. “One of my friends saying that he had different ideas on how we had to flirt with the women there. He ended up getting us in trouble the entire weekend. And the amount of stupid things that happened, all because we were all trying to be different than we are, just became comical. One of my friends got arrested for hooking up on the beach. And then, he gave his shoes to the police officer to not get arrested. Another went skinny dipping with a girl and some people stole all his clothes from the beach. They were naked all night and had to go to the girl’s hotel room, where her brother was, and borrow clothes. It was just crazy,” says Sebastián.
Upon his return from this trip and a couple of restless nights, Sebastián began writing down their various adventures. That’s when Sebastián asked himself about the male and female romantic relationships, and how each party views the other, and their unique views on love. “The next day, my parents were having breakfast, but I was kind of shy about it. I said, ‘Can I read you something?’ My mom was like, ‘This is hilarious.’ Then, I called my brother, and that’s how we started working on the show. I told him I had this idea. We ended up creating a pilot and writing a season outline.” The Zurita brothers worked with Campanario Entertainment and Sony, and finally got it sold to Amazon.
Sebastián and Emiliano recruited a team of writers and actors and the project took off. “You never achieve things alone,” says Sebastián. For him, it was critical to have a strong team, since he was not only starring in it, but producing and directing as well. The brothers developed a system so that they could both direct episode 9. “We have one voice on set, and if I’m not in the scene, I direct, and if I am, he does,” Sebastián explains.
In Cómo Sobrevivir Soltero, he plays Sebastián, which he explains is a past phase of himself. “The part that people don’t understand is that if you’re an actor or public figure, everything doesn’t always come easy. I wanted to bring that to the show, that the acting life is not as glamorous as people think it is. It’s a lot of waiting around and being rejected.” In the show, the lead character, Sebastián, needs to find himself after being left at the altar —something that hasn’t personally happened to Sebastián. It’s a journey of self-discovery and growth, filled with many comical circumstances, some of which are based on real life.
Sebastián currently has a couple of shows and movies in development and is hoping that Cómo Sobrevivir Soltero will be picked up for a second season on Amazon Prime. “Right now, we are at the expense of the public,” he says.
Like all of us, Sebastián has been socialdistancing and living by himself in his Los Angeles home. He decided to go back to school and has been taking classes at UCLA. He has also been writing now more than ever before. “There are no excuses to not figure out things to do, a lot of my work comes from being next to a computer and being in my house —it’s part of a creative process.”
Watch all ten episodes of Cómo Sobrevivir Soltero on Amazon Prime and follow Sebastián on Instagram and Twitter at @szuritaoficial. For more on Addiction House, visit http://www.addictionhouseprojects.com/.