CALEXICO- Distinguished actor, author, and social activist, Enrique Castillo returned to his native Calexico roots on Wednesday, where a discussion followed by a Q&A was held at the San Diego State IV-Campus library about his Imperial Valley based novel, â€œThe Dead of Summer.â€
Castillo commenced his presentation by touching briefly on his novelâ€™s inspiration and history.
â€œI had seen a lot of films that had been shot in the Imperial Valley, but they were never about the Imperial Valley and they never really dealt with a lot of other elements in the Valley. Â Itâ€™s such a magical place. Growing up I worked in the fields, knew a lot of people in a lot of locations and always kept it in my mind that it would be nice to do a film, or something that had to deal with the Imperial Valley,â€ declared Castillo.
â€œThe Dead of Summerâ€ started out as a screenplay, originally intended to be shot in the Imperial Valley. In the process of omitting characters due to limited space Castillo figured a novel would be a more suitable forum to unfold his storyâ€™s detailed character development.
â€œSo, I googled… ‘how to write a novel’. Â The website that caught my attention was ‘how to write a novel in 100 days’. Seven years later- here it is,Â five years working on the novel and two years putting the screenplay together.â€ Â The audience chuckled at Castilloâ€™s unexpected punch line.
â€œThere is much more detail that goes into writing a novel in terms of description, that you canâ€™t do in film. Â Film is a visual medium like talking pictures, where a novel is more descriptive,â€ explained Castillo about differentiating between screenwriting and literary approaches.
After the book reading, the public turned its interest toward Castilloâ€™s personal success story and his road to Hollywood by way of Calexico.
Admitting that he didnâ€™t really begin to understand acting as a craft until taking classes at the university level, Castillo did credit his Calexico High School teacher, Mrs. Guzman, for being instrumental in taking a special interest in him. She was impressed by his understanding of a Shakespearian tragedy after a written quiz on Hamlet. Â From that moment on, Guzman made sure Castillo completed his university applications.
â€œIn high school my senior year, we were sitting at an assembly in the gym and there was the introduction of a young man that was a student at UC Berkeley. Â The moment that young man walked out onto the floor of that gym, I knew it was possible. I had worked with him in the fields. Â So he was living proof that I could do it too,â€ shared Castillo.
After high school Castillo left Calexico to work in Gardena, California, but didnâ€™t like it so he returned home to coincidentally find an acceptance letter to UC Berkeley.
â€œYour professors, your parents, and your law enforcement – these are the real heroes. Â Iâ€™m just a fantasy. Â I was a farm worker, Iâ€™ve never been arrested, I donâ€™t do drugs, and have a shot of tequila maybe once every ten years. If I can live out my fantasy, so could you,â€ Castillo said, clarifying his position as a celebrity and role-model.