Interview: Xolo Maridueña on Something His Fans Might Be Surprised to Know About Him

Xolo Maridueña is best known for playing Victor Braverman on NBC’s hit show, Parenthood. Currently he can be seen playing Miguel Diaz in the new YouTube series, Cobra Kai. Xolo dishes on his name, bleeding Dodger blue, and how he stays grounded in this business. Did you know he’s also a huge D&D fan? If you don’t know what D&D is, drop everything and find out and then come back promptly to read more about this talented actor.

GLITTER: What can you tell us about your new YouTube series, “Cobra Kai”?

XOLO: Hopefully by now your readers will have had a chance to catch at least the 1st 2 episodes of Cobra Kai so they can get a feel of this hybrid dramatic-comedy which continues the story of the original Karate Kid.  It’s a great mix of familiar characters that are weaved together with a whole new crew of Cobra Kai dojo and Miyagi Dojo students.  The tensions and laughs are all there.  It’s a great watch for people who love the classic series and those of us who may not have been around for the first time. 

GLITTER: Who do you play?

XOLO: I play Miguel, the reluctant Sensei Johnny’s, first student.  I basically spend the first 2-episodes getting my butt kicked and then you see the transformation that takes place under the Cobra Kai dojo.

GLITTER: Did you need to learn martial arts for the show?

XOLO: Absolutely! It was a daily 2-4-hour regiment of working with professional stunts, martial arts, boxing, strength and yoga instructor teams to get me in amazing shape. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  It wasn’t just about learning martial arts, it was about the entire task of learning martial arts and then using it in a way that can be choreographed and filmed.  Daily testing of what I was learning and then put into motion.  I was incredibly lucky to work with Hiro Koda (Power Ranger, Green Hornet) who is just one of the best and most dedicated instructors in this field.  His whole team whipped my butt on a regular basis.

GLITTER: How familiar with the original Karate Kid movies before taking on this new show?

XOLO: Not really all that familiar with it at all except for seeing it as a younger person.  Most of my familiarity came from the Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan Karate Kid, which came out when I was 9, so it was actually a big favorite of mine. I didn’t however have much of an idea what “Cobra Kai” was until the audition came in and my mom and dad looked over my shoulder at the script and got super geeked out about it.  I guess that was kind of a foreshadowing at how excited some generations may be about Cobra Kai the series.

GLITTER: Where do you find your inspiration?

XOLO: Oh man, just everywhere.  I am of course inspired by actors I see really being on top of their game, especially those that can have longevity and also are able to move from genre to genre without breaking a sweat.  But really, I am inspired by so many people who are very clear in their path and then put in the hard work to get there.  I am super inspired by the struggle that most people take on and is unnoticed.

GLITTER: What does your name mean? 

XOLO: Xolo is name with Nahuatl origins, it’s an indigenous language, spoken by millions still to this day, mostly by people of Uto-Aztecan origin. The name is a form of the work for Dog Star, or “North Star,” Sirus.  It’s the brightest star in the Orion belt. So, like…no pressure right lol.  As a side note. 

GLITTER: When did you first start performing professionally?

XOLO: I was nine-years-old when I went out for my first audition and booked by first job, a Sears commercial.

GLITTER: How do you stay grounded in this business?

XOLO: I live a super regular life, go to a neighborhood school, have friends that I’ve been kicking it with since I was 10 and do chores around the house.  My family makes sure that both my sister and I have as well-rounded and filled life as possible, with acting and working being a piece of the pie, but not the whole pie.

GLITTER: What do you love to do in your spare time?

XOLO: I love to listen to music and go record shopping for vinyl and CDs.  I just got my driver’s license, so spend a lot of time exploring Los Angeles, I like searching for the best burger in the city.  I play tennis and basketball, like to play both video games and board games and I attend a regular Dungeons and Dragons meet up.  I imagine that my spare time is pretty much like many people my age.  Keeping busy with life.

GLITTER: What is one thing you cannot live without?

XOLO: Oh man!!! Just one?!  Okay. I can say that family isn’t a “thing” so that doesn’t count. So, if it has to be a “thing,” I have to say it’s my phone.  I keep all my music on it and I can’t go anywhere without my music.

GLITTER: How do you give back to the community?

XOLO: I don’t think I give back as much as actively participate in my community.  I feel strongly about foster youth issues, immigrant’s rights and also the need to create communities that are safe from gun violence on any level imaginable. I think that I lean towards civil rights issues because of our particular family values, so I try to stay connected with those issues that most impact Brown and Black communities.  

GLITTER: Best advice you were ever given?

XOLO: Don’t be a jerk.  My parents always say that, if they end up raising humans who aren’t jerks, they’ve done their job.  So yeah, I guess that’s the mantra: don’t be a jerk.  They actually don’t use the word “jerk” but I’m keeping it PG here haha.

GLITTER: Are you a Dodgers or Angels fan?

XOLO: Bleed Dodgers Blue baby!  Season ticket holders and you can find us at most games.  I don’t hate on the Angels though, they are the first Los Angeles baseball team so I have to give them their respect. But if you make me choose, of course I’m going to have to say the Dodgers.

GLITTER: Is there something about your fans would be surprised to know?

XOLO: I’m going to say people will either be surprised that I go to an all-boys school or surprised that I practice, my family practices the Ifa tradition.  Both of those things may not be information that is readily available for people who peek into my personal life.

GLITTER: Is there someone you’d like to work with that you haven’t worked with already?

XOLO: Soooooo many people I want to work with.  I’ve only just begun so it’s really a growing list.  I am really looking forward to seeing what I am fortunate enough to achieve. I want to keep working in some capacity so that may mean acting, writing, directing.  I would be excited to work with Ron Howard again, his life as actor, writer, director is a great blueprint for where I would like to focus.

GLITTER: Any projects you can tell us about that you’re working on next?

XOLO: There’s a really great voice actor project that I am working with but I can’t divulge yet.  It’s a well-known graphic novel series, so I am sure many will be familiar with it, as soon as I can talk about it I’ll share it with you.

GLITTER: How can fans follow you?

XOLO: You can always reach out and start a conversion with me @xolo_mariduena on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook.

Photographer: Tim Schaeffer Grooming: Joseph Adivari