Gino Vento: “Everybody has a story to tell, and so many should be shared”
For Gino Vento, the intersection of music and acting has more similarities than you might expect. Vento discovered music at a young age, and by the time he entered high school, he began to play in several local bands in the Miami area. However, it wasn’t until he formed his most notable project Thick As Blood that he began making a name for himself worldwide. After releasing a series of cult-classic records on Eulogy Recordings, along with releases on Rise Records, Vento ventured into a new artistic medium: acting. Vento, however, found the transition from the stage to the screen easier than expected due to the natural charisma, stage presence and confidence he gained from performing in bands over the years.
What started as an endeavor based on passion and new experiences turned into something else entirely. Vento stayed the course and began to actively pursue the dream of becoming an established actor. In a matter of time, Vento began to see his acting career flourish from his breakthrough role on Netflix’s Bloodline to high-profile appearances on HBO’s The Deuce to his current portrayal as Nestor Oceteva in the FX original series Mayans M.C. It is clear that Vento’s acting journey is just beginning as he’s set to take on even more compelling roles and bring stories to life that need to be told.
Tell me about your beginnings and the path you started on as a musician turned actor.
I was born in Queens, New York. In 1996, there was a blizzard, and my family moved down to Miami, which is where I spent most of my life. That was an interesting time. I was 10 years old and also trying to discover music at that time. My dad also used to be in a band and loved rock music, but I was fighting it trying not to listen to anything like that, which is funny now. Through some friends in Miami, I started listening to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Wu-Tang Clan, and started to appreciate more what my dad was putting me on to like Dio and Black Sabbath. Fast forward to high school: I played in a few bands, and we started a group called Thick As Blood. That band in particular was really important for how music became such a big part of my life.
We did the band for about 10 years and signed to Eulogy Recordings for two albums before signing to Rise Records for our last release, Living Proof. We got to tour all over Japan, Australia and did full U.S. tours where I met so many cool people. Toward the end of the band, I started to dabble in acting by doing extra work with no true interest in pursuing it at the moment and eventually fell in love with the environment.
In hindsight, what I love about acting is the pure bliss and getting lost in it, just like being onstage with the band for however long your set is. The transition has been very beautiful in that sense. The show that changed my career was Bloodline on Netflix, which really helped me and gave me the confidence to move back to New York and continue pursuing this. I ended up booking another great show called The Deuce on HBO, and that was a great time. After season 1, I moved out to Los Angeles, and I ended up doing The Last O.G. with [comedians] Tracy Morgan and Cedric The Entertainer. Eventually, I booked Mayans M.C., a spinoff of [hit crime-drama television series] Sons Of Anarchy, and we are premiering season 4 on April 19. That’s the cliff notes of where I’m at.
What are some dream roles you would love to do with acting?
I love heist films and would love to be a part of something like that. However, my ultimate mission is to play roles that are not defined by my ethnicity and just be a man in the skin that I currently wear. Sometimes, I feel like that’s the mark that many industries miss with what we mean about representation. We want to be cast, heard and seen. It’s the face, the cadence and the energy that not only myself but other people of color bring to the table that many industries miss.
I feel like you have such versatility as an actor with so many diverse roles and styles under your belt already, so not only could you play the quote-unquote “bad guy” in a heist film, or an MMA fighter, but you could also play the unexpected anti-hero role as well.
Obviously, I’m covered in tattoos and have to navigate my career in a certain way. I was very fortunate when filming The Deuce. It’s a period piece, and they ended up covering up my tattoos. It’s funny you mention all of my styles because my mission is to be a chameleon in this industry. One thing to note is that the MMA fighter thing is actually in the works. I have a good friend named Diego Garijo, who is a bare-knuckle fighter for BKFC [Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship] and is also a drag queen. I am on a journey with him to tell his story and his take on what it means to be a man, so that is in the works.
That is going to be revolutionary, and there are so many stories like that that need to be told. For you to come up with that idea and execute it with passion is truly amazing.
Everybody has a story to tell, and so many should be shared. At the end of the day, you’re not going to get anywhere with a closed mind. Authenticity and respect are really important to me for any medium. As far as being in a band and then going into acting, the common denominator is storytelling, and that’s what tied everything together for me.
What music are you currently listening to?
It’s funny because this is for the Denzel Curry issue, and we’re not only friends, but I’m a humble fan as well, so he’s definitely been in the top five of what I’ve been listening to. I love Power Trip — rest in peace [Power Trip frontman] Riley Gale — and that’s the kind of stuff I listen to while getting ready for a scene in my trailer. I’ve also been listening to Trick Daddy, Ace Of Base and Pantera. It’s all over the place.