that just hasn't yet accepted such diversity among it’s lead actors, Andino refuses to
feed the stereotype.  He doesn't fit the user-friendly, Hollywood image that sitcoms have
contrived to make gay men commercial and acceptable to the Mid-West.  

Paolo Andino  plays characters...he does what an actor does:
gets into the skin of the role he’s prepared to portray and hits his
mark.  But after this year’s Oscar wins for Milk, Sean Penn won for
Lead Actor and Dustin Lance Black took the Best Screenplay
honor, and the opposition to Prop 8, which threatened the
marital rights of gays and lesbians living in California, the visibility
of gays and lesbians in our society impacting our culture has
suddenly become incredibly important -- absolutely vital!

And although Andino probably wouldn't admit to being cast as a role model, he
undeniably agrees that what he’s done has had an impact.  Watching the Oscar
telecast with his boyfriend, Andino admitted, “I just had such an incredible reaction to
that.”  Referring to the moving acceptance speech given to Milk’s screenplay writer
Dustin Lance Black.  “All of a sudden I just started bawling!  All those kids who are
listening to this...who are going through the whole coming out thing, and how painful it
still is...and how painful it was for me...I was just sobbing.  I don’t think about it on a
daily basis, but that speech hit like an arrow -- it hit the spot!”

It’s very easy to applauded the shrinking violets -- the gay-friendly cooperatives (I’m not
diminishing their contributions to the effort), but then there are the quiet avengers who
accept who they are, do what they do, and inspire a new generation to know that they
have equal representation and should claim visibility to be an active part of the world by
just being honest in who they are.  Entertainers have that strength of forum and share
that voice; Andino certainly has accepted that path.  “One of the nicest things that I've
been able to do because of the show is my advocacy work.”  By being an actor, who just
www.ambiente.us  MARCH | MARZO 2009

Leading Man Material | Actor Paolo Andino
by JC Alvarez, exclusively for Ambiente

You wouldn’t get from his stand-out role on LOGO’s hit The Big Gay Sketch Show
(where he’s usually flexing his sinewy yet brawny physique to much of his audiences’
adulation) that actor Paolo Andino envies being a serious leading man.  He’s just so
very good at comedy...he’s a natural, but with his classic, marquee good-looks, and
amazingly warm personality Andino has only begun to tap on his full potential -- and
just like his wildly boisterous alter-ego, the heavy-lifting “Naldo”, known for packing
things in oh so well, Andino is proving he’s the complete package and has got what it
takes to deliver!  

Andino knew from a very young age he had found his passion performing on the
stage.  He also realized there would be some opposition to pursuing his acting and
make this his profession.  Andino admits, “growing up Cuban in Miami...you don’t think
that acting is something you can really do as a career.   It’s like a pipe-dream.”  After
all...it’s not the most “practical” career choice, and certainly his parents had aspirations
that Paolo would choose something that would be “safe” and “secure”...like an
accountant, or a banker.  It’s indicative of the culture I think, but he’s family eventually
relented.  His mother especially was pleased that her boy had finally just settled on a
career path...especially after changing his mind seven times!
... gay.”  Andino attended Columbus, which is an all boy’s high school, but by the time
he was 19 he was pretty confident in himself, enough to immerse himself in his college
acting class and actually went out for a part in that semester’s staged play.  Bit by the
bug, he emerged a leading man in the making...at least by his own design.

Grabbing the attention of the director of the Acorn Civic Theatre on Miami Beach, Andino
was invited to join the aspiring theatre group and participated in numerous shows
during their season.  Which only fed his fire!  He knew he would become an actor -- and
pursued further study enrolling at FIU and majoring in theater!  Andino was serious!  
And eventually found himself walking the path as many actors before him, a path (of
course) leading to New York City, with $1500 dollars in his pocket and a dream.

Sound familiar?

Crashing on a friend’s couch, Andino prepared to get himself seen and worked to
organize a showcase that would put forth his best assets; through his charm,
dedication to his craft and commitment to his plan, it landed him a series of agents --
and eventually awarded him a commercial agent that put Andino to work.  It sounds
simple, no?  Oh sure, the man was lucky!  He seemed to always be at the right place, at
the right time.  Andino was strategically meeting all the right people.  Everything was
falling into place -- but that doesn't mean he didn't go about it with his own share of
blood, sweat and tears.  Andino clearly put faith in his instincts and when opportunity
knocked, he answered.  Nothing in life is by happenstance.

You’re probably waiting for this tale to turn tragic.  
But, I hate to disappoint you -- it just doesn't seem that way where Paolo Andino is
concerned.  His story is about wanting something more out of himself, being honest
about what he was most capable of, and going for that dream.  Andino is a testament to
what you can accomplish by keeping the focus -- the eye on that brass ring!

He came to his latest gig, LOGO network’s high-rated and celebrated The Big Gay
Sketch Show (which is produced by Rosie O’Donnell and directed by sitcom legend
Amanda Bearse of Married with Children fame) just as you’d imagined.  “It was just
another audition...and then they called!”  The show has sense grabbed the attention
and affection of gay and straight audiences alike with it’s quick wit and SNL-like sketch
bits, albeit with a little gay-flavor just to spice things up!  “I love comedy!  I've always
done comedic roles.  I’m a clown, trapped in a leading man’s body.”  And what a body it
is!  Andino has of course lauded himself often cast as the hunky guy, the tight-shirted
heartthrob and the Latin lover, but he sits comfortably in any role that he chooses or is
crafted for him.  

“Our head writer is the amazing Scott King...he was the head writer for Mad TV, but we
have a lot of input on the characters we portray on the show.”  As a talented
impressionist as well, he has spoofed Antonio Banderas, and as the show goes into it’
s third season, Andino is poised to take on other popular icons...perhaps Anderson
Cooper (?) and fear not, I’m pretty certain Naldo will be back to pack things in.

There appears to be no end to Andino’s talent, who may be one of those
diamond in the
actors that can easily interplay between the demands of comedy and drama.  “I like
both...and once I start doing one, the next thing I want to do is the other (especially)
because I like to keep that healthy balance.”  It’s finding the perfect balance of the
dramatic-thing and comedy that keeps him engaged.  Andino laughs, “I get ‘comedy
envy’ if I’m not the funny one.”

But it’s important to note that, if this story hasn't made it self-evident, Paolo Andino is
one of a rare breed: he’s an openly gay, and working actor.  In a culture

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Playing parts in local Christmas pageants as a youngster, only would go so far to
satisfy his growing ambition.  

After finally fulfilling most of his requirements in college, Andino decidedly took an
acting class as an elective.  To note: he had avoided taking a theater class in high
school to keep away from “certain labels”.  “I was afraid to take (an acting class) in high
school, because I was afraid people would find out I was
to be gay and be visible about it, Andino is shifting the trend and setting a
precedence: being honest is empowering.

Paolo Andino looked forward and never looked back and that set him on the winning
trajectory that he’s on.  In a world full of “15-minute men” -- celebrity-hungry
individuals so starved for fame and attention that they willingly submit themselves to
any number of reality show dilemmas, Andino stuck to the road traveled most, the
one paved with the hard work and dedication to his craft that would lead him to the
ultimate payoff.  He wasn't looking to become a star...he wanted to be a working
actor, and what he may not have expected was that he’d win the hearts of many
aspiring actors and comedians, who now have found a role model and inspiration in
this self-actualized leading man.

Join Paolo Andino and the rest of the cast of The Big Gay Sketch Show on LOGO,
Tuesdays at 10:30pm, check your local listings and catch-up on past episodes
before the coming third season.

CLICK HERE to read more by JC Alvarez

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