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One of the most acclaimed 2021 movies thus far is the coming-of-age drama Blast Beat - a refreshingly and brutally honest commentary on the struggle to achieve the American dream as seen through the eyes two Colombian teenage brothers whose family moves to the United States in the late 1990s. The young protagonists are played by Mateo Arias and his real-life sibling Moisés Arias, who is just one familiar face from the film based on co-writer and director Esteban Arango’s 2015 short you may recognize, such as Wilmer Valderrama among others. If you cannot seem to place where you may know these actors and the rest of the Blast Beat cast from, allow us to help refresh your memory, starting with ambitious lead.
Mateo Arias (Carly Andres)
Playing Colombian born, heavy metal-loving aerospace prodigy Carly Andres in Blast Beat is Mateo Arias - a 25-year-old American born actor of Colombian descent who made his acting debut in the 2005 remake of Yours, Mine & Ours alongside Drake Bell, whose hit Nickelodeon sitcom Drake & Josh would be his next credit in 2007. Arias’ first starring role, after more small parts on other TV shows like Cold Case, was as a martial arts student on the Disney XD series Kickin’ It, followed by more feature-length films like lesbian teen romance First Girl I Loved or the 2016 coming-of-age dramedy Good Kids opposite Zoey Deutch. I should also mention his early guest spot on Hannah Montana, which was also his first time sharing the screen with his brother.
Moisés Arias (Mateo Andres)
Despite playing Carly’s troubled younger brother in Blast Beat, Moisés Arias is one year older than Mateo Arias, but both started acting around the same time, with Moisés debuting on Everybody Loves Chris before hitting the big screen in the Jack Black luchador comedy Nacho Libre in 2006. That same year, he joined the Hannah Montana cast as Rico, which opened the door for him land bigger roles, such as in The Kings of Summer, young adult sci-fi novel adaptation Ender’s Game in 2013, the 2019 teen romance Five Feet Apart (reuniting him The Suite Life of Zack & Cody’s Cole Sprouse), and The King of Staten Island with Pete Davidson the following year. Arias will reunite with the SNL cast member in the Vietnam War drama The Things We Carried and stars opposite Sylvester Stallone in the superhero movie Samaritan, which is now in post-production.
Diane Guerrero (Nelly Andres)
Speaking of superheroes, Diane Guerrero’s latest claim to fame is playing Crazy Jane on Doom Patrol - one the most acclaimed DC TV shows exclusive to HBO Max - although her role as Maritza Ramos on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black cast is what really began to get her noticed. Like her onscreen sons Blast Beat, the 35-year-old Latinx actress is also a Disney star, having voiced Vestia on Elena of Avalor, and also had a recurring role on the Jane the Virgin cast as the title character’s good friend and co-worker Lina Santillan. Guerrero’s upcoming animated horror series Woman in the Book is now in pre-production and she was recently cast as Buddy Holly’s wife, Maria Elena Holly, in the historical music drama Clear Lake.
Wilmer Valderrama (Ernesto Andres)
Playing Diane Guerrero’s onscreen husband, Ernesto in Blast Beat is Wilmer Valderrama, who is also of genuine Colombian descent, as well as Venezuelan, despite being born originally in Miami, Florida in 1980. Best known as Fez on the That ‘70s Show cast, the actor quickly found more dramatic roles, such an illegal immigrant in 2006’s Fast Food Nation, a drug lord on El Rey’s From Dusk Till Dawn series, and an NCIS cast regular since 2016, in addition to also being a Disney star voicing the title role of Handy Manny. Valderrama would reunite with Ashton Kutcher for a recurring role on his sitcom The Ranch and continues to stretch his voice acting talents as the title role of the animated Netflix movie Charming and a small part in Pixar’s Onward in 2020.
Daniel Dae Kim (School Professor)
Another CBS crime procedural veteran in the Blast Beat cast is Daniel Dae Kim, who played Chin Ho Kelly on the Hawaii Five-0 cast for seven seasons after his stint with the Lost cast ended with that strange drama’s series finale. South Korean Kim also has voice acting in common with Wilmer Valderrama - for both Avatar: The Last Airbender and its spin-off The Legend of Korra as well as Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon - and he is no stranger to the comic book movie genre after playing Major Ben Daimio in the 2019 Hellboy reboot. His most recent movie is the the latest of Netflix’s space movies, Stowaway, and he is currently preparing two new TV series, the animated sci-fi drama Pantheon and a follow-up to National Geographic’s The Hot Zone covering the post-9/11 fear of anthrax.
Andrene Ward-Hammond (Mrs. Johnson)
Another superhero movies veteran in the Blast Beat cast is Andrene Ward-Hammond, who appeared in the Netflix original Project Power in 2020, which proved to be a big year for the Just Mercy star in several other ways. She also played a cop in The Lovebirds (another one of the most popular Netflix movie releases from 2020), a magic practitioner on the HBO horror hit Lovecraft Country, and joined the Manifest cast that year. Ward-Hammond, also known for Mindhunter Season 2, the Oscar-nominated Loving, and the comedy Instant Family from 2018, also appears on the Bryan Cranston-led miniseries Your Honor, just completed the sci-fi TV movie Cipher, and is preparing to star in executive producer Michael B. Jordan’s upcoming series 61st Street.
Kali Uchis (Mafe)
Outside of her own music videos or that of her peers in the music industry, Grammy-winning R&B artist Kali Uchis is not very well known for acting. In fact, the singer-songwriter of Colombian descent (known for hits like “After the Storm,” which also features rapper Tyler the Creator and funk legend Bootsy Collins) makes her official debut in Blast Beat as Mafe. However, Uchis (born Karly-Marina Loaiza) seems to have caught the acting bug and landed a recurring role on the telenovela What Happens to My Family, which premiered in February 2021.
Because Blast Beat is a story of great importance, especially to its creator and those of the same cultural identity that understand the characters’ struggles, it is right that the cast come from the same cultural identity as their characters. It allows them to channel their genuine understanding of the material into the story, ensuring a richly personal experience for fellow Latinx people and immigrants as well as enlightening experience for those less familiar with the struggle. Blast Beat hits theaters Friday, May 21, 2021.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.