Viewers will see a familiar face on tonight’s episode of “Chicago Fire.”
Odessa native Arik Vega, who now lives in Chicago, made his television debut on the show as a character named Julio who is saved from a burning building.
“It was amazing,” Vega said of the experience.
He got the part through his agent in Chicago. His audition was very short — just a few lines, screaming for help and acting like he was in a fire.
Although the role was brief, it took two days of filming. Vega said he even had a stunt double in case anything became too taxing or unsafe.
“All the actors were really kind. The crew was very accommodating. These were long days. You show up at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t leave until 7:30 in the evening. Just shooting a few little moments a scene that would take maybe a minute … on the screen, they’re getting all these different angles, resetting the shot shooting for 30 seconds at a time, doing the same shot multiple times to get the right shot, or to make adjustments,” he said.
At this point, there are no plans for a recurring role on “Chicago Fire,” but it is a foot in the door.
“This is how careers can get built up. This is on my resume. I have exposure here just going from there, it gives more credibility,” when going for higher-scale movies or TV shows, Vega said.
People in the business will know he’s worked with a certain producer or director, which can help.
Growing up in Odessa, the Permian High School graduate said he took acting classes and participated in camps at the Permian Playhouse. “That’s where I saw my first play,” he said.
He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
“That’s where I started my stage career, doing a lot of professional work with theaters there in Nashville. After I graduated, I would go on to do dance concerts, musicals, original plays, straight plays at different companies around the country. I traveled around doing that for about six months after I graduated from the university. Then I moved to Chicago where I started making the transition into more of the film industry,” the 24-year-old Vega said.
Ironically, Vega said he won’t be able to watch his “Chicago Fire” episode because he’s rehearsing for a play called Detroya that opens in a few weeks. Previews are May 16.
Based in the southwest area of Detroit, it centers on Latino families who struggle with rebellion, regrets, loss and family.
“The the playwright calls it a graphic novel for the stage. It’s really stylized. We’ll have projection screens. It’s been a really great process. I’ve got a lead role in that show,” Vega said.
His character’s name in Detroya is Gusty.
“He’s this young kid, about 18, punk, really volatile, but clearly a product of his violent upbringing and the poverty that they face in their particular area of Detroit,” he said.