Berto Colon works hard and when he plays hard, he travels to Miami.
The Orange is the New Black actor was in town with his wife and two daughters, doing what comes naturally when you’re in South Florida: eating, drinking and going to the beach. We caught up with the native Puerto Rican, 42, during his trip, which included a meal at Yard House in Coral Gables (“great burgers and awesome craft beer”), shopping at The Village of Merrick Park and taking a dip in the ocean in South Beach, all documented on his Instagram account.
Colon was due to take some time off after playing drug dealer Cesar, the scene-stealing, shady boyfriend of Elizabeth Rodriguez’s character, Aleida Diaz, on Netflix’s award-winning women-in-prison series.
Colon’s acting credits also include memorable turns on shows like Madam Secretary, Nurse Jackie, Blue Bloods and White Collar, and he can currently be seen starring in the HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero, a retro political drama from Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis and costarring Miami native Oscar Isaac.
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Why did the trip to South Florida come about?
It’s been a busy summer. Not just for me but for my wife as well, and some R&R was due. We sent our daughters down almost a month ago to see “Lita” (grandma) in Cape Coral and “Titi” (auntie) in Miami. We were dying to get them back. We got so lucky with the weather. I booked the trip with a hurricane looming. I really thought we were going to be rained in the whole time, so we got a little gift from Papa Dios and hit the beach Monday, and it was absolutely perfect. My daughters want to move there! I just wish there were more work for me in Miami.
How did you enjoy yourselves?
Loving it as always! The weather the vibe, the ocean, everything. It combines the best things I love about both NYC and Puerto Rico. I’ve always gelled with this place so well. I was in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Gables and SoBe in just three days. I managed to reconnect with some good friends, some I hadn’t seen in over six years. We picked up right where we left off. When we compare our journeys and where we are in life, we see the blessings and realize that the journeys are all the same; nothing in life is easy, but persistence and dedication pays off. I’m proud of them and vice versa.
Can you talk about how your character in “OITNB” has evolved in season 3?
I’m counting my blessings and I’m so grateful to the production and the writers for the chance to breathe more more life into the character. It’s been a beautiful challenge. The great thing about Cesar now is that the stakes are much higher for him, as he is basically balancing a life of crime and providing for his family. As crazy as that sounds, in his mind, he is doing what he needs to do to and protect what’s his — meaning his business, his home and all those kids. The content of his story and his actions have a more broad set of consequences. Juicy stuff for me to tackle.
What is it like playing someone so shady?
I’ve tried my hardest to arrive at a performance that is based on a specific set of circumstances and is honest and truthful. To me, Cesar has always been a survivor, a fighter, a person who like so many of us has been dealt a certain hand and he has successfully adapted to it. Given his ideals and moral standing, he’s obviously not a role model for society by any means, but I try to focus on his intentions and the driving force behind them. To me, that driving force is where I find his humanity.
What can we expect from upcoming episodes?
We continue to reach across all demographics, just like it has from the beginning, and continue to entertain and thrill. The story and the show is a global hit for a reason. Its message is universal, and the performances and portrayals are very honest.
Family is first, and those responsibilities are ever growing so I’m looking forward to the beginning of school for my girls. Business-wise, I also have a short film opening at Urban World Film Festival in NYC later this month called Since I Laid Eyes, in which I got to work next to the phenomenal Gina Rodriguez. The grind and the hustle continue, and I’ve got an amazing team, and we’re working harder to procure more work. I’m looking to improve every day and get closer to really establishing myself in this business.