Homer Aguilar, a 2004 Monache High School graduate who grew up on the East Side of Porterville has landed one of the major roles in a television pilot filming in Porterville about a killer on the loose in Porterville.
Aguilar is playing the role of Catholic priest Father Michael who’s assisting in the investigation and manhunt of the killer.
“I did a documentary out here on America’s cities and people two years ago and Homer brought me out here and introduced me to some pickers,” said Christopher Anthony Young, executive producer, writer and lead actor. “So then when it came time to writing this script about an ex-cop from New York who leaves New York after a murder and takes a job as the Sheriff out here, I immediately thought of him. He’s Hispanic and young and would be perfect.”
Young also said Porterville was ideal for the pilot.
“It has great scenic value. It’s quiet. The production value of Porterville is perfect. It has wide roads and the people here are so nice. It has great agriculture. It (the pilot) will be in Spanish and English. There will be a few subtitles and this area is so diversified. I think it’s going to work here.”
Aguilar, who was born in Mexico, came to the United States at age 4, attending John J. Doyle Elementary School from kindergarten through sixth grade, Pioneer Middle School, and one semester of Granite Hills High School before transferring to, and graduating from, Monache High.
“In school, I was never involved in theater,” Aguilar said.
However, he was involved, he said, in skits and full plays at his Catholic Church’s – La Guadalupe – youth group.
“One of my go-to’s was doing an imitation of Pedrito Fernandez,” Aguilar said, referring to playing the role of a young Pedro Fernandez, the famous singer, songwriter, actor and television host who began his career at age 7. “I was 11 years old at the time.”
As a teen, he worked at the Galaxy Theater, he said, and worked his way up to projectionist.
“Watching the movies, all I knew is I wanted to be there.”
Eventually Aguilar began a free acting class at a high school in Tulare under Anthony Cordova, who spent his time between Corcoran and Los Angeles.
“That got me into the whole film thing,” Aguilar said. “I was not involved in film when I was in school. I did the cadets and eventually was assistant commandant in Exeter from 2011-2012. But I always had acting in the back of my mind. It was a fantasy and I was always dreaming about it. It seemed like something unattainable, especially in Porterville. But it was persistent in my mind. I had to try. I kept thinking, ‘What if?’ It was so persistent and I couldn’t ignore it.”
That’s when Aguilar made a decision to move to Los Angeles in 2015 with the goal and idea of becoming an actor.
“But I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea where to go or what to do,” he said.
After moving in with his brother in Los Angeles, Aguilar joined acting classes.
“I attended the Ruskin School of Acting in Santa Monica in 2016,” Aguilar said. “That class helped me. It drew me out of my shell.”
Following graduation from the program, he began a master class to stay in practice.
“When I’m not on a gig, I am (at the school). Working actors teach there,” he said and mentioned Carson Meyer, daughter of Ron Meyer, who was President and CEO of Universal Studios before becoming Vice Chairman of NBC Universal.
In addition he said, he also met and worked with Stephen Spielberg’s daughter, Destiny Allyn Spielberg in 2017.
“They helped me learn how to do things and gave me a better idea of the path to get to where I want to go,” Aguilar said.
But it was when he met Executive Producer Christopher Anthony Young that changed the course of his life.
“We met in 2015 and have stayed friends,” Aguilar said. “I introduced him to Porterville and we have stayed friends since.”
Aguilar had talked about Porterville and brought Young to area orange groves.
“I picked oranges as a teenager,” Aguilar said. “I showed him the groves and introduced him to Porterville and he loved it. He loved the scenery, the geography, and the name – Porterville – stuck for the script.”
Now Aguilar said he’s excited to be working on a film in his hometown where family still live. And, he was able to recommend his sister and his niece for a couple of small parts in the movie, he said.
His niece, 13-year old Maydeline Aguilar, a student at Burton Middle School, has a small part in the pilot; and his sister, Elizabeth Aguilar, also has a small part. In addition, he said, Elizabeth Aguilar’s home was used as a location site and as the basecamp for the set.
Aguilar also said he was able to obtain three Porterville College production assistants – Erika Coon, Florentino Linas, and Leslie Ochoa - to assist as part of the general crew.