As an Actor, Colombia’s Jhonattan Ardila is the ultimate storyteller. Through his craft, he takes on a psychological and physical burden to embody characters that are meant to be represented. Sometimes these characters and stories can be light-hearted and offer hope with entertainment. However, most of the characters Ardila plays are ones with difficult backgrounds and troubled lives; ones that may be hard to watch but necessary for audiences to see.
“While I am clear that I am an entertainer, I also think I carry the responsibility of representing and advocating for under-represented communities and an ultimate truth teller of the world’s realities. People’s lives are not fairy tales, I take on these roles and show audiences what they really are,” said Ardila.
Ardila’s commitment to his artform is evident with every role he takes on. Whether voicing the character of a best-selling video game, such as the leading character of Benito Martinez in Far Cry 6, or playing the antagonist in a hit television show, such as Amazon Prime’s highest-viewed original series Reacher, Ardila knows how to captivate an audience and truly become his character. His talent has impressed audiences all over the world and allowed him to rise to the top of his industry, working alongside Hollywood stars such as Golden Globe winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) in the award-winning film In the Shadow of the Moon.
With such a decorated resume, it could be hard for many to pinpoint a highlight of it all, but Ardila says it was his film Dreams that tops all moments of his esteemed career thus far. The film, which he wrote, directed, and starred in, premiered at the Oscar qualifying New York Film Fest where it was nominated for Best Film and won the Jury Award. Upon its release, Dreams received excellent reviews, especially having played at the esteemed Fox Theater in Toronto after showing at a multitude of various international film festivals. It went on to win multiple awards with an established cast that includes Primetime Emmy Award-nominated The Handmaid’s Tale series actor Alexandra Castillo, Saturn Awards nominee and Hallmark channel’s Good Witch Nisa Gunduz, and Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards winner Ronnie Rowe. Having so many cultural and emotional ties to New York City and then having his film premiere at such a renowned festival was unforgettable for the actor.
“I always had a personal goal of making it back to the city and being recognized for my work there. Not only was I nominated for my performances in Dreams but it was extremely rewarding to receive such positive reviews for my performance and the project overall. I made my mark in the biggest city in the world,” he said.
Dreams follows a young Latino who struggles with immigration, inner city problems and supporting his family, when everything is suddenly torn apart by an innocent mistake. Ardila played the starring role of Camilo, a troubled Latino growing up in inner New York City. With his time spent growing up in New York and the versatility that he carries with his experience and languages, he was the only person that could’ve played this role the way it was meant to be played and carried it to the success it had.
“Jhonattan’s undeniable talents and extraordinary acting skills championing the widespread improvement in the quality of the undermined immigrants’ representation in this film with his New York City background, stunt work, and bilingual gift. He demonstrated his experience and versatility and is the only actor that could have played this vital role the way it was written. Jhon’s direct contribution as our lead actor helped the film achieve tremendous success and critical acclaim. Not only is he an incredibly talented actor that I’ve had the privilege to share the screen with but also an amazing person that I consider a great friend,” said Actor Tony Ofori, who worked on Dreams with Ardila.
This project required an immense amount of work for Ardila, from pre-production, rehearsing and all the hurdles he and his team had to jump on the shooting days. Most of the scenes included Ardila and they were working on a tight schedule. On top of this, not only did he have to deliver a stellar performance, but he also was directing and leading the film, having to go in and out of character in the blink of an eye while switching roles. All of that hard work paid off for Ardila, who says the awards and accolades are secondary to the story he put out into the world.
“The story is one that does not get told often. We frequently see Latinos being portrayed as cooks, janitors, workers but never the humanity behind them. While Camilo was a regular Latino working a typical day-to-day immigrant job to get by, this film mainly tapped into the humanity behind the character more so than the profession. We got to see the family bond that is very culturally important to us, the hard-work and constant desire to better yourself, like I saw in my household growing up. It was a film that struck personal nerves and that was representative of a high percentage of the population in the United States,” Ardila concluded.
Photo by Hayley Andoff
Published by Pooja Agarwal