Miguel Chavez, a 2016 B.F.A. graduate from the Filmmaking program, knows a little something about hard knocks. The actor/filmmaker cut his chops in Hollywood doing stunt work.
But for Miguel, a Rancho Cucamonga product and the first in his family to earn a college degree, that ‘I’ll try anything once’ attitude won him a recurring role on NBC’s A.P. Bio, where he quickly made his mark as Eduardo, attracted legions of fans… and where he received an acting lesson he didn’t anticipate.
Miguel describes life as a cast member as “amazing” and considers himself among the fortunate few. “The big elephant in the room is that pretty much everyone is happy to be working,” he says. “No one behind or in front of the camera isn’t where they want to be. Nobody cuts corners, and being able to witness and be a part of that is a huge privilege.”
Unfortunately, as with so many other television series, the network cancelled the show after a two-year run.
“If you look at the ratings, it wasn’t doing amazing but it wasn’t doing terribly, either – it was just very stable,” Miguel says. He attributes the network’s move to viewership numbers but is heartened by how A.P. Bio continues to fare online. “The show is playing really strong on Hulu though its online platform – it’s the number three most-watched, after NBC’s This Is Us and Will & Grace, two other ridiculously successful shows.” Miguel credits actors Patton Oswalt and Glenn Howerton with popularizing the trending hashtag #SaveAPBio. “We’ve been getting a lot of love from fans,” he says. “What I think is interesting is the movement and the power of the people to potentially bring it back, per Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Whatever the show’s fate, Miguel says he’s still living his lifelong dream of working in the industry as an actor. And when he’s not acting, he’s happy to be writing. His thesis film, “The Voices They Hear,” won Best Student Film at the Pasadena International Film Festival and was an Official Selection at the Burbank International Film Festival. He credits Woodbury for helping to channel his creative drive(s).
“Woodbury, more than anything else, helped me become a much more well-rounded individual,” Miguel says. “The university helped me feel empowered. I’m not just an actor who’s waiting for the next job, I create my own content, and I know what it takes to make a film. Many actors are too intimidated and don’t know where to start.”
Miguel appears to have had an intrinsic feel for precisely when and how to start, per his role as head of the Woodbury student film society, the Social Reel. When, during a student meeting, a professor asked for volunteers to run the organization, Miguel’s hand shot up.
“Being president of the Social Reel really got me out of my comfort zone,” he says. “My first semester was tough because I didn’t know how to lead and no one respected me. But things turned around the second semester when I got a new E-Board and a clearer sense of how things should be run. The experience taught me how to lead and how to be vulnerable in front of others.”
Proving, perhaps, that stuntmen do know how to land on their feet.