Avocado Toast - With a Side of Alexander Nunez

INTERVIEW WITH Alexander Nunez (he/him) - Actor and filmmaker and plays Jordan on Avocado Toast the series who’s work includes “The Umbrella Academy", "Grand Army" and will star in the upcoming CBC series "Feudal" which just wrapped filming in the fall of 2020. Alex talks about why it's important to create your own work and believe in what you have to offer when you're hired. Alex is also one of our writers on the second season of Avocado Toast.


Perrie Voss:

Hi Alexander Nunez!


Alexander Nunez:

Hello Perrie!


PV:

So Alex, you played Jordan in Avocado Toast the series!

AN:

I did!


PV:

And I've been talking to a couple other people about how amazing it is that you came in as an actor role with like five lines and you just wowed the pants off of our entire team. And we were like, we need to get this boy more lines. So yeah, it's it's, it's been a real pleasure to do that and then accelerate you as a part of our show going into season 2

Alex and dir. Sam Coyle on Avocado Toast the series season season 1 - Photo credit: Justine McCloskey

AN:

Yeah. Thank you. It's been, it's been really, really cool. I honestly wasn't expecting to be as involved in also as emotionally invested as I think I am about Avocado Toast now it's really, really crazy. And it was my agent that was like, “yeah, you know, it seems like a really good time. It looks good”. The audition was two lines and it was sort of like, “okay, I have no idea what the show's about… I think I'm an assistant, it'll be like a nice, like one day thing and I'll like, go home”. And then for the call back, I really was convinced. I just like, didn't get [the part]. Anytime I'm in a room with like a bunch of adults, I forget that I am one too and feel like I’m 12 years old.


PV:

[laughing] I can relate to that so hard.

AN:

[laughing] Yeah. I felt like “Oh my God, I have to like shake everybody's hand”. I'm happy. It worked out. I was really happy.

PV:

It was amazing though. Like you, I mean, you embodied exactly what we were looking for, which we just kept being like, “be more subservient! be more subservient! Meeker! You know, nothing!” And yeah, you just brought it. And then I think what we were blown away with when you came on set was your incredible ability to improvise. I can't remember who was saying this other day, but someone I was interviewing said [you had] the confidence to just like throw out some improvisation on the day with us!”


AN:

It was amazing because you know you could have been like, shut this guy up and get them out of here and that's what I'm always afraid of. I don't even know what it really was about Avocado Toast because I almost never do that on set, unless someone has come up to me prior and went, “Hey, we're going to just like, have fun on this one”. I don't know. I don't even know why I did that. I think I was at a point where I was like, you know what they're not gonna use this anyway. And I'm just going to keep talking until Sam - director, Sam Coyle - comes up to me and just tells me to stop. But she didn’t.

PV:

No, but none of us did because we were like, what is this gold coming out of his mouth, we want more of this! And almost all of it made it in. I mean, it was the whole reason that we just were like, okay, we're going to upgrade you to principle. So could just say whatever you want. And it was a huge reason why - and seeing your other work - why we wanted to have you as a writer on season two, because I'll be bringing the gold. So, yeah. So that's another really exciting thing to have you.


AN:

Ya. I was really surprised about too. Because I honestly, that is something that I feel like in this industry, you're really supposed to be selling yourself all the time. And sort of marketing to everybody. Where all your peers say, “what you're doing, what you've been doing”, and I'm just so bad at it. And I, I feel like it's, because you know, I've come, I grew up learning to be super humble, even when you're doing really, really well, you shouldn't be telling people. And the only reason I even showed you guys my short was because I just thought it could have sort of been related to Avocado Toast.

I think it was like the first day, right? Like my first fitting and you and Heidi were there. And I just was like, yeah, this Jordan character reminds me of like, this thing I did is my short called Diversity Hire where I do a job interview. And I left that day. Like that was totally inappropriate.


PV:

No!


AN:

I feel like you were pretty busy that day. So I spent a lot of my time talking to Heidi, but Heidi - I think when you don't know her right away, she's very reserved. She's very much an introvert. And in my mind I was like oh she’s a professional lady. And I walked out like, Oh my God, like, I can't believe that. I just did that just like whipped out my phone [to show you the short film]. Yeah, it was pretty crazy, but I'm glad you guys liked it. I'm glad you guys had faith in me and asked me to help with season two.


PV:

We loved it. And I think just speaking about that, like from the actor experience, because this is the first time that I've been on the other side of the camera in a large scale, in the way that I was able to help cast and have some opinion on that. And I think what I realized is that, when you make a decision to cast somebody, you are so excited to have that person say yes and to come and do the thing that you made.

I remember also sitting at my computer being very busy and like wanting to just sit and chat with you, and I just had no time.

AN:

Yeah.

PV:

But I remember just beaming. I was just so excited you were there. I was like, “Oh my God. Yes. Share this stuff with us”. I think it's like a good lesson to remember that when people hire you, they're like doing backflips internally.


AN:

Yeah. It's weird. I actually - it's so funny. I've been doing this for like eight years, but I actually learned so, so much from Avocado Toast, just in terms of that. Just being on the show, it was a great reminder that it really is a collaborative experience. And even if you are the one being cast, you always have stuff to bring to the table and you, you never have to feel nervous or like subservient, you know. You’re there because of what you have to offer. And it was a great, it was a great reminder of that. Just being on that show, it was a huge surprise to even be bumped up to [a] principle [role]. I was like, “they want to hear my annoying voice? Like they want to hear me talk more? Maybe a mistake, but okay… They can always edit everything out



PV:

No, it was brilliant. And yeah. I mean, I just loved the level that you got to with that last bar scene that we did together. Was that your last day with us?

AN:

I think that was, yeah, that was my last day.

PV

And you just went full-hog and with that, like “red-headed slut [line]” slays me every time. So I can't wait for people to see your Jordan's journey in season 2 because I think we've sort of taken that and then just really fleshed it out into a huge, beautiful character.


AN

Yeah. I'm really, I'm super, super excited for season 2. Not that, you know, season one, I really got to - when it came out, I really got to watch it as an audience member. I was like pleasantly surprised with what I did, and just getting to watch you guys, just you Heidi and everyone, all the other series regulars, it genuinely made me a real fan of the show.


PV:

Cool!


AN:

But then, you know, getting the offer to write for season 2 and having Jordan sort of come back as an actual series regular, it just had me so excited to let people in beyond this sort of super weird, always-turtleneck-wearing current character and have him turned into, you know, someone who's like really fleshed out with vulnerabilities and wants and needs. As wildly excited as I am to get back into it and to just like do dumb stuff that makes people laugh. I think getting to see this vulnerable side is going to be really exciting.

PV:

I totally agree. And I think just thinking about that and writing it initially. And I think what you ended up bringing to the role is the reason that we wanted to see more of that. And initially, Jordan was a catalyst for helping understand [the character of] Patricia’s and the relationship between Patricia and Elle and what you brought to it just elevated the whole thing.

AN:

And I was like, “who is this guy?” And I want to know more about this character and why he's here and why he's putting up with this.


PV:

And it adds to the tension in the stakes for the mother daughter relationship. But thank you for bringing that into the room. Because I think I, yeah, I just think it's going to be a really cool journey to see for season 2.

So what have you been up to since wrapping Avocado Toast? We had a couple of months where there was normal life and then we had a pandemic… So what have you been shaking with?

AN:

Oh my gosh. It's been, it's been a very weird year. Avocado Toast finished and right. Yeah. It was like right at the start of COVID and then audition sorta stopped coming in. Initially I was getting a VISA together to be eligible for work in the States.

NOT that I wanted to move there. I always have to sort of give that to make the differentiation. I didn't want to move to the States. I just wanted to be eligible to work.


PV

So that if someone called and were like “we have a part for you in the U.S.” you would have no hesitation - You could go.


AN

Yeah. Then COVID happened then George Floyd happened and then election stuff started happening and became real depressed and I stopped the application altogether. I think I was like 90% of the way there. And I was like, I don't even want to think about it right now.


PV

Right.


AN

Heidi had, very early on in the year, asked me if I wanted to write season two with you guys, which I was like super stoked on. And the short [film] that I showed you guys, Diversity Hire, Heidi and Charlie offered to help me develop it into a series which is still pretty much ongoing. I had like no thought at all in my head of it ever being like an actual show concept. Because I wrote it - I think I wrote it in like 30 minutes at like a Second Cup.


PV

Wow.


AN

As a part of it was like a writing competition. Okay. So that I was sort of working on, so I was working on writing stuff and the pandemic really.


PV

Can people watch the short [film]? Because I've seen it, but is there somewhere?

AN

Initially there wasn't a link cause I, it was streaming and festivals and stuff, but now I've allowed a friend to post it on his channel. So it's on YouTube. It's called Game Time Comedy. It's not my channel, but I just was like, it's not on anything right now and I'll give that over. So this year basically I think I had a thought that a lot of other actors had, and I was like, maybe this is just a sign that it's not my future. I genuinely was like, yeah, maybe this is it for acting. I think maybe this year is trying to just tell me to quit it because writing had picked up 22 Minutes was looking to maybe see if I was available to write a few episodes for their show.

PV

Oh my God

AN

Yeah. No official offer yet. [looks mischeviously]


PV

Are you hearing this 22 Minutes? Let’s go 22 Minutes.


AN

And then I had one audition like one single self tape. It was for a show called Feudal. It's a CBC show. It's an hour long dramedy series. I was like super, not down to even do the audition at all. I had a terrible time making [the tape]. I had one good take and I sent it off.

PV

How many takes did you do?

On the set of Avocado Toast the series

AN

It must've been like 40 I think I did. I think I must have tried to film that self-tape for like two hours and my partner, I was like, so just not into it. And it was like a super long audition process. We did a bunch of callbacks and like like a Zoom call here and there, the offer didn't go to me. I waited like the, yeah, waited like probably like three weeks to hear back. And this was in June and I knew it was starting in July and my agent called me and he was like, “yeah, they gave the offer to somebody else”.

PV

That's so heartbreaking.

AN

Yeah. And it was at the point I had done like my like fourth callback and I was like, “it's mine”. I have it. It films out in Nova Scotia. So I even, you know, I think every day I was talking to my partner, Kevin, “like theoretically, you know, if we moved to Nova Scotia for this long, like what would we do with like the apartment”. Then I got the rejection call and it basically I had like a good 10 minute cry in my bathroom.

PV

Good for you. Good for you.


AN

And then for whatever reason that deal fell through. And then they gave me an offer like maybe like a day or two later.


PV

Wow.

AN

Yeah, it was crazy. It's my first series lead!

PV

Soon to be one of two because Avocado Toast the series - series lead! So when you, when you got that rejection, because sometimes that's happened to me where I don't get something and then it, for whatever reason does fall in my favour. Was there like a part of you that was like, “nah, this is, going to happen” or were you just like hopeless immediately?


AN

I was pretty immediately hopeless because - So here's the thing. It has happened to me a lot, but, and two times specifically one was Schitt's Creek. I had auditioned for Patrick for Schitt's Creek.

PV

Oh wow. Holy crap.


AN

And I did like many, many auditions for Patrick and then ended up getting a meeting in a chemistry, read with Dan Levy. My agent called me to tell me that. And I was like, I think he called me on a Thursday and he was like, "it's on Sunday”. And I was like, so ready. I was working at a furniture store. I like left early for the day. Because I was like, “I gotta go. I have to go and prepare”. And then like two hours after I got that phone call, he called me again. And he basically was like, they canceled it. Eugene Levy like said no. And I was crushed because that year I was, I just had so much emotionally like banking on it. And I was super crushed. I got my passport taken the same day and my passport photo, even to this day, it looks like this, [makes a blank face].


PV

A huge sad face.

AN

And then I did a couple a year or two later. I did the pilot for The Bold Type. And I was supposed to be a recurring character for The Bold Type. It was sort of like a, it was sort of a different version of Jordan kind of, except he was like a little bit of a brat. Because Jordan is like very sweet.And I was doing that show I think I was let go for a few reasons. I was not like great to be around on set because I was going through family issues. Like I got a call on the GO Train over that my brother was in jail and I had to process that for the two weeks that I was doing the pilot. And I think I just got very weird cause you're, you know, I'm very, I like, I talk about my life. Like it's nothing, but I just was so afraid to be, I had to be professional and people like, “Oh, how are you doing today?” “…Good”. And I loosened up by the end, but I just think, I just like, wasn't my show. Like wasn't my time. It just wasn't working for a lot of reasons, but I hoped that I would still get on the series and sort of prove myself and they let me go. So I just now have, I'm very pessimistic, even when it comes to my third round of auditions, I don't, I don't expect anything. I think it was, I was emotional about Feudal because it was like the only thing I had, like I was banking on this year because of COVID I was working a copywriting job part-time that I hated and it paid next to nothing. And I just was like, you know, you sort of glorify stuff as a way out, you know, as a way to like, solve all your problems.


PV

And I think you just need a win sometimes, you know? Like you feel like, and when you get that far, you're like, “Oh, this is my silver lining. This is the thing that's in my year”.


AN

But I think, yeah, initially, yeah, I just needed a con like a real confirmed win. I mean at the time you guys asked me to write Avocado Toast, but then also for COVID and trying to figure that stuff out and for scheduling, like we, our start was delayed, so I didn't even have anything really to preoccupy my time, but yeah, in not getting it, like I had a quick cry and I was very much just like, “okay. Yeah. I just was like, I, you know what, I think I know who I have a couple of names in my head of people who might've gotten it and good for them”. And, and getting the rejection, I feel actually really primed me to do well when I got there.

PV

Because you were that much more grateful, like that kind of thing?

AN

Yeah. I think it was just like, it released something. Yeah. It just released this like need to do well. [laughing] I was like, “well, you know what, if I'm crap and I'm not good, you don't have any other choices beyond me. So you're stuck with me for the season. The contract is already locked in! Like you have me for four seasons if we make it that far”. So I think if I got it right away, I would have been very tense the entire time on set.


PV

Right. Well, in that sort of vein of you talking about the let downs and the successes. Do you feel every time you have something that like really lets you down or like you were saying, not your best step forward on The Bold Type set, but like, do you have things that you feel like you've been able to reflect on and say like, that's something that didn't work, but it's like then caused the success for you later, later on?


AN

Yeah. Yeah, totally. Yeah. I'm like a huge believer that like, everything happens for a reason. And like, as long as you just keep putting in the work. Yeah. You know, it'll eventually pay off. Yeah. Even this year, like a lot of my friends are just very much like, “how are you doing it? Like, how'd you get into like writing?” and I'm just like, I just had to do it. And I genuinely believe that going that far for Schitt's Creek got me in the room for Feudal. Ever since that audition, I got, I auditioned for quite a few CBC things and not that I got everything, but they just, it got, it gave them, I think an awareness of who I am as a person. So yeah. Like I think every, all the failures sort of worked out a little bit.

PV

Yeah. I’m a firm believer of that too. That there's a, there's a reason. And obviously you have to put the work in, like you can't just kind of sit back and let it happen. But I think that the ships that you're meant to be on won't sail without you.



AN

Yeah. I just think that's a good way of looking at it. Because there are so many disappointments in this business, whether you're in front of the camera or writing or, you know, whatever.


PV

Yeah.


AN

It's a hard answer to give people. I have a lot of friends, even all the way from last year, even a few years ago, but especially now during COVID now that our industries and so much peril, I have a lot of friends who feel super let down and heartbroken by the industry even pre COVID. But it's the only advice I can ever tell people. I'm just like, dude, I get it. I had years where I auditioned and I got nothing. Yeah. But in those years, like, you know, my agent was the one who always told me, like, you cannot wait and just sit by the phone and expect stuff to happen. Like you have to be, you have to be willing to just put yourself out there. Even if you feel really embarrassed to do it, you need to just like start like making your own stuff and collaborating with your friends and that's and be willing to share it.


PV

Yeah. That's what you did on set. Like I know it would have been terrifying to like, you know, throw out those little ad-libs that you were doing, but it's, it's what made us kind of all turn our heads. And I think like sometimes there's just something in you that is like, “I gotta do this. I have to. Something else is speaking for you that somehow, you know.”


AN

And after it's so funny, I thought I had unlocked this huge secret after I like made my first few shorts. But then I realized like as a, you know, as I'm, you know, met you and Heidi and even the people that I met on set at feudal, all the people I know who are doing well right now are the people who were brave enough to put themselves out there and to just go, you know what, I'm tired of, like waiting by the phone and I'm tired of, you know, being at the mercy of casting directors. Yeah. I'm just gonna like stop taking myself so seriously and just, you know, make my own stuff.

PV

That's exactly it. So, as an actor and a writer, what for you makes a really good TV show or film, what makes you want to keep watching?


AN

For me I'm, so invested in well rounded characters. I feel like if you know your characters inside and out, you know, their vulnerabilities and you know, as a writer, you're willing to sort of put a little bit of yourself in each one of you create this story just flows. And I feel like you have, you have less doubt when you're writing, you know, your plot is so much stronger. That's sort of really what I look for in a great script is just vulnerability. And it's why I just was so in love with Avocado Toast because when I read it for the first time I just was like, “wow, this is [good]”. You know, you have ideas about comedy web series, just like each episode is going to be like a little shtick and, you know I've, you know, watched web series like that before.

And I just was like, this is not just like a bunch of 10 minute gag episodes. These guys are really talking about things that me and my friends talk about on an almost daily basis. And they're not afraid to get emotional and talk about their frustrations with their parents and frustrations with love. So that's what I sort of think about. I

'm currently helping someone. He asked me for help in writing a really short, like five episode web series. And it's his first time writing. The one thing I'm trying to give him to take away with. And he's always his thing is like, “yeah, but like, is it funny? Like, is this joke funny?” And I'm just like, “it'll be funny when it's honest. Stop worrying about the puns or the punchline. Like we can fix that later. That's the last thing you should be worrying about right now”.


PV

To be honest - That’s what makes it funny. It's a thing it's like, “it's funny, ‘cause it's true”. That we relate to, you know?

AN

Yeah. So that's the takeaway I think.


PV

And based on that, did you have like a favourite character in the show, [laughing] does it start with a J does it end with an N?


AN

Okay. Cause I was like, you're going to get me in trouble with your counterpart. I'm going to do that


AN

No, but really like what, what, what sort of did you, were you surprised by somebody that you were like, Oh, I didn't think I was going to relate to that person. Yeah. I did three in particular. I'm going to say I'm like no particular order: Okay. Brenda Robins who plays your mom on the show really surprised me. Not that she should have because she's a huge esteemed like theatre actress. But I would also say surprise as sort of a testament to you and Heidi's writing honestly.

Alexander and Perrie Voss on set - Avocado Toast the series Photo credit: Justine McCloskey

PV

Thank you.

AN

What I saw on set was really just a lot of the comedy that Brenda had to do. That was a lot of those scenes between Jordan was in watching Brenda be just a mother who was just really genuinely confused and looking a way into her kid's heart.

PV

Yeah. Wow.

AN

Really, really touched me. I relate to that on like such a huge level, because I'm really, really close with my mom. And it was, it was incredible to kind of watch her go back and forth and you know, you and Heidi were obviously amazing, but there was a scene in particular that I was watching this show and I was like, “Oh my God”. And you have Elle basically have a breakdown in front of her date. And I was like, this is, I was like shocked. Because I was like, this is so real. And I feel like I have this moment once a month, but it was like, but the the way that scene was written, it was so genuine. I don't know how much of that was really a reflection of anything that you've gone through in your own life. I can only assume yes, because it was so like striking and then it immediately goes back into this sort of comedy moment about this horrible dinner that she is being served carrots and plain rice. Yeah. I mean, yeah, there was no like weak performance in in the show, but I really like as a viewer, I sort of, I really connect with Elle. I see the most of myself in her because I think I'm someone who is to a degree sort of addicted to work. And sometimes that can get very much in the way of my personal life, you know, especially because, especially in my friendships. Which is something that I'm trying to be better about. But yeah, Elle is, you know. Everybody was very endearing, but Elle was a character that I was like, like I get that.



Alex as 'Jordan' and Perrie Voss as 'Elle' from Avocado Toast the series season 1

PV

And I think there's like a huge part of that. And sometimes we miss things in our lives or are so distracted by things because it's easier to do that, than go into that like emotional aspect of what is actually going on. Oh yeah. You know, and I think sometimes when, when our lives get shaken which is actually genuinely what happened to me personally - which is why I wanted to write that. But I think that that's actually what added to it for me is in that caliber. So yeah. I think, I think that's really cool that you relate to that. Because I think that that's a huge thing that people don't always talk about is that, you know, emotions are real.

AN

Yeah, man, I buried them, but then they're going to come up. Yeah. I'd always tell you, it’s my biggest deflector I'd always tell people that, you know, like if there's ever a funeral and I'm burying someone close to me, I'm the one making the arrangements and doing the planning because I have to like keep busy or because I just don't want to think about it. Yeah. And in the beginning it has such a huge effect on my acting because I just could not be sad. I took an acting class and it was, so it was so hard for me to project sadness that whenever I felt it come up I got nauseous and I actually, I vomited one class because I was so uncomfortable with sadness.

PV

Oh my gosh!


AN

And then I vomited and then I let it all out and I like stopped for weeks. And now I saw the commercials and movies, like, you know, the dog that I see when I'm taking a walk down the street like, “Oh my God” [fake cries].


PV

That was symbolic and amazing though. Like wow. You actually needed to like get physically get something out. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I don't know. I couldn't cry on stage or in front of a camera for a very long time. And I, yeah. Yeah. Like same thing.

AN

So watching Elle all the way through the series all the way up until that huge moment where she realizes that she's actually not as okay. As she made herself out to believe. Yes. I was like, dude, that I totally understand.

PV

Wow. Well, thank you for that. That's that that's really cool. From a writing standpoint. It means a lot to have - and you would agree - having someone reflect back what exactly you were trying to portray is amazing.


AN

That's amazing.

PV

Amazing. Well, Alex, I just think you're the most wonderful human and I'm so glad that you're a part of our team. And I'm so excited to see what Feudal does for you and for CBC. And I just can't wait to see it. What are your Instagram handles for people to follow?

AN

You can catch me on Instagram @alexjonunez yeah. Don't, don't follow me on Twitter… [laughs]


PV

[laughs} Every time I tried to tag you in a Twitter post. I'm like, wow. Where is he!?

AN

Yeah, it's the longest thing ever. It's like @alexander_jnun. But it's so not actor-ey. And I just talk about- I just share stupid jokes. It's great. So follow me on Instagram.


PV

Everyone's going to follow you on Twitter as soon as Feudal comes out. So-


AN

I, I did a full from look, like now till like 2014 of like, am “I going to get canceled for anything that I've ever said?!” The answer was none.


PV

The answer is no! Good for you.

AN

Well thank you for having me.


PV

Thank you so much for being a part of this little podcast project and our show. And I just can't wait to work with you again in the new year. Whenever we can figure it out with a COVID friendly set.


AN

Oh God, same baby!


Follow Alexander on Instagram @alexjonunez and Twitter @alexander_jnun


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