At 31 years old, Spanish actor Roberto Gilabert Cuenca is currently one of the most popular foreign actors in China. Chinese media calls him the ‘foreign dream boy,’ and with a face like that it’s no wonder.
An unknown unknown outside of China, Cuenca stars in popular shows like History Will Always Remember (历史永远铭记), Fearless Love (爱无畏), Dream of a Halo (梦的光环) and joined the cast of Ice Dimple(冰酒窝), Black Felix(黑凤凰), The Wrath of Vajra (金刚王) and many more.
He has 16 years of acting experience under his belt, and is well trained in the Chinese martial art Wushu; making him an obvious choice for many Chinese directors. Besides acting, Cuenca has worked behind the camera as a scriptwriter, director, and producer of co-productions. He also founded Generation of Creation, a film production company focusing on co-production support and film production consultancy.
What do you think is the secret of success?
Talent, experience, being in good shape or good-looking are elements that all contribute towards helping an actor in this industry. However, I like to think that there is no other secret but hard work. It’s just the daily hard work and personal battles that you must overcome.
How did you decide to become an actor?
My ability in wushu landed me my first role on a local, Spanish TV show. From then on, I had a clear vision that I wanted to become an actor.
At the age of 22, you seriously injured your spine…
I had to be in a wheelchair for a year. I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy. Doctors didn’t know if I would ever walk again. The worst part was slowly seeing everyone leave me. By then I was already quite a popular actor, and then suddenly I wasn’t. I wasn’t the popular actor and martial artist anymore, nor was I the “cool guy” either. All of it was gone, and with it, my friends and my dreams.
“Doctors didn’t know if I would ever walk again.”
How did you recover?
I had two surgeries and had to start walking from scratch. The doctors said my sports training helped me a lot. When I heard I’d recover a spark sprang up inside me. I was given a second chance in life to walk again and to follow my dreams. All of it was thanks to Chinese Wushu. That was the moment I decided I would come to China.
Again, it wasn’t easy. I spoke hardly any English and not a word in Chinese. I had no friends, no family, and wasn’t able to communicate. But I had one objective in my life that kept me going.
Will you stay in China, or are you thinking of trying your luck in Hollywood?
Hehe, everyone keeps asking me why I didn’t go to Hollywood. I always give the same answer: Why? Maybe it’s because for the moment there is a big difference between Chinese and Hollywood productions. But China has all the elements needed to produce great quality films. There are many extremely talented actors, many great directors and plenty of resources to produce great films.
“China has all the elements needed to produce great quality films.”
I believe that this country, with such speed and development power, will soon be making top-of-the-line films that will make Hollywood actors want to come to China. Besides, in my heart, China is the country that gave me a second chance in life, so I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. My goal is to stay in China and produce good quality films and TV shows.