When Alexander Nunez first dabbled in theatre studies, a serendipitous announcement made by his high school improvisational coach propelled him into the world of acting. What started out as a high school hobby soon manifested into a long-term pursuit. Now in his fourth-year as a psychology and criminology student, Nunez’s latest feat is starring as high schooler Tyler Manguso in Wish Upon (2017).
Directed by John. R. Leonetti—who was involved in films such as The Conjuring and Insidious—the premise of the horror flick follows a high school girl, who, upon discovering a contraption akin to pandora’s box, is plagued by evils resulting from the declaration of her wishes. While on set, Nunez encountered entertainment industry moguls such as Shannon Purser—an actress who plays Barb on Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things.
Nunez discusses his introduction to acting by citing his involvement in his high school’s improvisational team as a stepping stone. Initially, his team’s first audition for a comedy sketch in Toronto seemed abysmal.
“After the first round, everyone in my team had been sent home, and after the second round, they sent me home too. I thought I was done,” Nunez says, later recalling his father’s attempt to placate him by saying that he had at least “tried.” His father then recommended that he forget about the auditions. “To my father’s disappointment, I was ecstatic that I had just gone to my first industry audition, and made it so far. I felt compelled to go to more,” Nunez added.
His first audition was awkward. Nobody in the room laughed, much to Nunez’s chagrin. Nunez wasn’t aware that he needed to create and practice a character prior to the audition. Despite this, Nunez performed a skit about an old man lost in an airport.
A month later, in a surprising turn of events, Nunez was called for a third audition.
“A month after that, they cast me,” he says, further noting that he went on to receive his first agent.
However, Nunez’s family was initially unsupportive of his acting pursuits. Nunez’s parents had a practical mindset. They endorsed conventional ideas of financial stability and traditional career paths. So when Nunez brought up his desire to pursue acting, it was not received well.
Nunez admits, “I tried once before I graduated high school, to admit to my parents that I would love do an acting program in university. They laughed in my face. I took that as the universe telling me it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t until I got that first TV gig [on a comedy show for the Disney Channel] that my parents saw that I must be at least a little capable of making this work.”
Indeed, Nunez’s appearance on Disney’s Try it! was a personal breakthrough. He recalls the audition process as being “hectic” with hopeful actors, himself included, packed like sardines in the waiting area.
Yet, as a student pursuing acting, Nunez acknowledges the challenges that comes with living a dual identity. In his first two years of university, he did not receive any acting work. Though he describes this period as “brutal,” Nunez also says it was an “excellent distraction.” But the burnout came when he starred in Wish Upon—it was too late for Nunez to drop any of his courses, and so he did his best to keep up with his academic workload whilst coping with the demanding schedule of filming.
“The cold was the worst,” Nunez says, referencing to his experience of shooting outdoor scenes in the middle of the Canadian winter. “We at least got to wear some warm parkas […] in between takes.”
Now, Nunez is enrolled as a part-time student. If he pursues his acting career seriously, Nunez understands that this decision may potentially enervate some of his goals: “Initially, I wanted to pursue postgraduate studies in psychology. I realized a few years ago that at least for now, that is something I am unable to do while I am trying to cultivate an acting career.”
Currently, Nunez is working on a personal series entitled Fixing Sandra Thomson—a comedy web series. Nunez says he drew inspiration from his experiences with volunteering for UTM’s Sexual Educational Centre.
“The script [is centred] around a sex/relationship counsellor. […] One day I was introduced to someone who actually works as a life consultant. From what she explained, it’s a crazy service that doesn’t get a lot of public thought, but she helps people, and she has fun doing it. It’s therapy with a stylish twist. I thought that would be a fun thing to write about.”
Right now, Nunez is in discussion with L.A.B. Production to produce the series’ pilot episode. The plan, according to Nunez, is to secure a full series budget and to shoot 10 episodes this coming March or April.