With Roles in “13 Reasons Why” and Bright Under His Belt, It’s Clear That This “Party of 5” Actor Is Just Getting Started
Written By: Taylor Gorski
Photographed By: Andrea Domjan
Styled By: Melissa Souza
Groomed By: Jennifer Mau Brandon Larracuente
Brandon Larracuente shows up to his cover shoot right on time, wearing a salmon pink jumpsuit with his fiancée by his side. “I think the older I’ve gotten, the more comfortable I’ve become at just wearing what I feel like fits me in the moment,” Larracuente says with a smile. This outlook goes far beyond his personal style; it shows throughout his acting career and how he’s grown to be so comfortable in his own skin.
Flashback to his freshman year of high school, where Larracuente was cast as the lead role of Danny Zuko in “Grease.” After that, he began to shy away from acting, as there was an aspect of negativity associated with it. “I was ridiculed, in a way, by my friends about being a part of the thespian side; [it was] just frowned upon for some reason,” explains Larracuente. “I would go for commercials periodically throughout high school, and I remember one time in specific, I booked a commercial. I filmed it, and one of my peers at school told me, ‘I saw you on a commercial last night,’ and I denied it. I was like, ‘No, that wasn’t me.’”
It wasn’t until after high school when Larracuente realized that he wanted to devote his life to acting and go full-force into the industry. “After high school, I booked the show called ‘Bloodline,’ where I finally began to pursue my passions and my interests and my dreams without really caring about what others thought of me,” he says.
After playing the character Ben Rayburn on “Bloodline” from 2015 to 2017, Larracuente was cast in the movie Bright on Netflix—one of his most interesting and challenging roles to date. “I played an Ork, which is a mythical creature. I had to learn Orkish—which is a made-up language,” says Larracuente. Playing this character involved getting into prosthetics every day for 15-hour days; it would take about an hour to get in costume and an hour to take it off. There was also a dialect coach on set to help learn and practice the language his character spoke. According to Larracuente, “It was very fulfilling and rewarding because it was so challenging.” He also had the incredible opportunity to act alongside one of his dream co-stars, Will Smith, during this film.
Larracuente was then cast in “13 Reasons Why” as Jeff Atkins. He initially auditioned for a different character, since Atkins isn’t in the original book that the series is based on. Because of this, it allowed Larracuente to really build the character as he saw fit. Atkins was a leader—a classmate who stuck up for other people. “I related to Jeff in a way because he was a friend I wish I would’ve had in high school,” Larracuente explains.
At age 21, Larracuente moved across the country from Florida to Los Angeles, a challenge that allowed him to grow as a man and human being. “I had dreams and aspirations of moving out here [to California]. Not at 21, it would’ve been many years later, but due to booking ‘13 Reasons Why’ I was kind of forced to speed up the process,” he says.
Although home was always a call away, he tried to minimize depending on his family. “I felt like the more I relied on Mom and Dad, the less of a man I was or the less I grew. I’m a firm believer that [people grow] through hard times,” Larracuente explains. Expressing there were times he struggled and didn’t know how he was going to pay rent, he always figured it out in the end. “I would not change anything because it’s given me the passion and the drive that I need to keep on waking up and facing every day,” says Larracuente.
Now in his latest role, Larracuente plays eldest child Emilio Acosta in the new Freeform show, “Party of Five,” a reboot of the popular ‘90s drama. While there are some similarities to the original, this version shows the Acosta parents being deported to Mexico by ICE agents (in the original, the parents are killed in a car accident). This leaves 24-year-old Emilio Acosta with a heavy responsibility of having to step up and take care of his four younger siblings, rather than going off and pursuing his music career. The show exhibits an emotional, human perspective of political issues that the United States is facing today. “I’m Latin and grew up in a very Hispanic culture, so it helps to get that sense of who [the characters] are and the Hispanic community,” says Larracuente. “It helps build and add elements and layers to the character that maybe somebody who is not Latin may not have.”
There’s something Larracuente can take away and learn from every role he’s portrayed. “I think every character that I’ve had thus far, I’ve been fortunate enough to relate to them in some way shape or form.” Larracuente wants to be remembered as somebody who does good and impactful work. “I’m really passionate about things that make people think and make people either leave a theater or go to bed at night thinking about things a bit differently than maybe prior to watching the show,” he says.
And with that attitude and mindset, he has big dreams and hopes for the future generation of those in the film industry. “I hope for more inclusivity for all ethnicities and cultures. We’re on the right track, but there’s always room for improvement.” Larracuente expresses that the younger generation should continue to strive for big dreams no matter how big or small they may seem. “I think that we need to continue to give confidence to the younger generation who is coming up now because they are the ones that are going to be ruling the world one day when we’re long gone,” he says.
Aside from his growing fame and following of over 1 million fans on Instagram, Larracuente is just a normal 25-year-old going after his wildest dreams. When he has a break from filming, you can find him reading a book, drinking tea in the morning, hiking with his pup or laying on his couch watching “This Is Us.”
He also recently proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Jazmin, in Yosemite National Park. “It was a very intimate moment; it was at the end of filming. I had been filming for about three or four months, and we took a little trip to Yosemite, and it was just us. It was us in a cabin, and it couldn’t have been more perfect,” says Larracuente. The two are a force to be reckoned with, as they support one another’s aspirations of acting, producing and writing while living together in North Hollywood. Brandon and Jazmin recently hired a writer for the original they are currently developing. They are also striving to adapt a New York Times best-seller. Solidifying the love and support for one another, she encourages Larracuente the morning of the cover shoot, bringing a light of positivity and smiles to the set (and stealing a few kisses in between looks).
In five years, Larracuente hopes to have had his first directorial debut, whether that’s a short film or an episodic. And in 10 years? “I hope to be comfortable. I hope to have a family. I hope to be in a position where I can choose projects that fit what I need as a human being but also what my family needs.” With what he’s accomplished in just these past few years, there’s no doubt that these goals will be met—and exceeded. Brandon Larracuente is just getting started.
Taylor is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism. She is our Los Angeles and Orange County editor. You can find her dining at a new restaurant, in the ocean or planning her next adventure. Say hello!