Not many people are able to tap into their creative juices at their part-time jobs but writer, director, and star Victor Cruz managed to come out of his past gig as a stock boy with an idea for a feature film that is now making the rounds at film festivals around the country. He admits it's a dream come true, and it is one that wouldn’t have been possible without his spiritual counselor.
“I had just lost my dad and was going through a tough time but she helped me so much,” Cruz says of his spiritual teacher and counselor, Guru Enlightenment, whom he met through a friend in 2007.
“At first I didn’t know about using a spiritual anything because it sounded like brujeria. But now she’s a close friend and even a second mom to me,” he adds.
Cruz says his guru guided him throughout the whole production of his first feature film The Stockroom. He even made sure she was on set at all times to ensure the vibes were always positive. The film is a dramedy centered around Joseph, a stock boy at odds with himself about whether to follow his dreams to be a stand-up comedian or stay at a dead end job chasing an elusive promotion. The film is based on real life events Cruz took from his 3 years working as a stock boy in a clothing store back in 1998.
“One scene I reenacted that was when the stock room’s radio is taken away for playing salsa and merengue music. Apparently our manager thought that since not everyone could understand the lyrics that some might be offended,” Cruz says. “Till this day, I still can’t believe that actually happened.”
The Stockroom also stars Luis Antonio Ramos (The Shield, New York Undercover) and April Lee Hernandez (Dexter, Freedom Writers), who is excited she finally got to work with her friend Cruz on such a positive project.
“This film has a universal theme but even more so it’s imperative Latinos go see this movie because it was written, directed, and produced by a Puerto Rican man from the South Bronx,” Hernandez adds. “Latinos can be proud of this movie because it isn’t filled with stereotypical Latino characters.”
Cruz hopes the film makes people think about where they are in life professionally and consider taking a leap of faith to do what truly makes them happy. Considering only 30 percent of workers in the U.S. feel engaged at work, and just 13 percent are content worldwide, it's a universal theme that tons of people can relate to. According to Cruz, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“People settle for what work is because they get used to it and then the fear of not being able to pay the bills kicks in and insecurity takes over,” he adds. “But what if we realized that people have a choice to get up, go, and change their lives? Take a chance and see what happens.”
The Stockroom will be playing at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York on September 25.