Behind his translucent, semihard veneer, Sal Sanchez is all heart. Fresh-faced (by Suspect standards), Sanchez, 23, wears crisply pressed chinos complemented by a freshly laundered, XL white T-shirt, over a wife-beater. His right arm bears a colorful, full-sleeve tattoo. Sal is in constant motion, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, dragging compulsively, "James Dean-style," on a Newport, while making sporadic, squinty-eyed contact. When completing a thought, he follows up with a "yup, yup, yup," as if dispersing small bursts of kinetic energy that his compact frame cannot contain. When Sal's name is spoken, he snaps to attention with a kind of counterfeit respect that he can now add to his arsenal of marketable postures as a young, Hispanic actor.
Sanchez found his way into the Suspect fold a few months ago "through family," after telling his cousin's father, Estevan Oriol, he wanted to get into the acting game. A photographer, video and documentary director, and CEO of a popular streetwear clothing company called Joker Brand, Oriol has directed music videos for Cypress Hill, D12 and GZA (of the Wu-Tang Clan) that featured some Suspects. He is responsible for the impressive, newly launched Suspect Web site, and, as a bridge to "the industry," he has a lot of juice with Jimenez.
Stella's tailgate tutelage has clearly paid off with Sanchez. His straightforward, good-to-go, professional attitude, accompanied by a firm, confident handshake, attests to that. Sanchez is eager to please, with a natural ease. He recently completed his first acting job, a Burger King commercial, less than three weeks ago, and is still basking in the experience.
"I grew up here in Los Angeles, city of Norwalk," he offers with pride. "[This] is my first gig, so I'm looking forward to working with interesting people. At first I was doubting myself a little bit, then I just one day decided that, you know, that we're not really promised tomorrow unless we step up to the plate."
Sanchez is conscious of the constant tug of on-camera thug status. "We're always reminding ourselves that we're under the 'scope, you know? Little things that we do that are watched more than others." Sanchez will likely be a big booker for Suspect Entertainment.
"Before," he confides, "I was into selling drugs a little bit . . . transporting. My father, he's been doing it for a while, and I kinda looked up to him. Then, I experienced a little bit of the repercussions that kinda business and lifestyle can bring. I realized that my dreams and everything that I want to achieve is possible. So I just stepped up. I'm here now. Trying to grab that star . . . yup, yup, yup." Anthony "Lepke" DeMarco is all business. Fortunately, business is good.