Home celeb profile Michael Mando

Michael Mando

by devnym

By Fran Rossini

photographer:Amanda Friedman

“I think we were all very aware of Breaking Bad; we were all aware of the expectations…”

“I think what happens when you travel a lot is that you realize home is more of an emotional and psychological reality more than a physical, geographical one.”

Before coming to the U.S. to work with the esteemed Gilligan, Michael’s roots were in Canada, although he spent some of his childhood growing up in Ghana and a lot of his teens and early adulthood travelling and moving around. “I think when you travel a lot, you kind of adapt to places very quickly,” he explained. New to LA, he boasts that he’s adapting quite well. “Moving to LA has been a new experience, a wonderful experience. I’m very grateful in the way I’ve been received by the people. I love the temperature here, the beach. The food here is great. I’m very happy. I think I love LA.”

He doesn’t have the homesick blues for Canada, and says being centered and grounded helps make anywhere a home. “I think what happens when you travel a lot is that you realize home is more of an emotional and psychological reality more than a physical, geographical one. It’s like, if you’re good in your head and in your heart, if you’re stable and rooted, and hopefully around people that you love, then anywhere I feel on the planet is home.”

But Mando does admit he misses three major things about Canaa: friends and family, the seasons, and a sense of familiarity. “Every street corner in Montreal means something to me. Every restaurant reminds me of a memory…. There are all of these pockets of nostalgia and emotions around the city, that when you move to a new city and everything is new, everything is fresh, you don’t have those emotional and historical points of reference. Everything needs a new memory.” But lack of familiarity isn’t holding him back. “I have to say that I am very adventurous, and I love new experiences. I love to continually grow and continually stretch myself. So I’m more for the adventure than for the safety [of being familiar with a place], and I totally welcome it.”

This isn’t lip service. Michael’s has indeed been continually growing and meeting new challenges. He grew up in a very conventional schooling format but broke away to pursue acting—a career that nobody in his community entertained, or even discussed. “I completely left this academic schooling system to pursue something that in my heart felt very personal, it felt very important to me.” His education didn’t stop; it just evolved a lot outside of traditional schooling. “I learned some stuff that I had to unlearn from school in order to continue growing. I had to adapt to a new way of thinking, a way of thinking that my teachers never taught me before, or that was even, at times, the opposite of what I was taught.”

This act of breaking out of the mold and re-wiring your brain to pursue unconventional goals, or understand unconventional ideas, is pertinent to stimulating creativity. As Michael expresses, “I feel that if you want to continue growing as a person, and as an artist, then sometimes you will be put in positions where you have to be willing to develop a new way of thinking that is completely yours. Or maybe not completely yours—because we’re influenced by everything—but a way of thinking that is brand new to you, and was not the way of thinking that you had been taught. And you have to having a little bit of courage to say, ‘I’m willing to break away from what I’ve been told and what I’ve been taught,’ in order to explore new territories, and to continue to do so.”

But some territories are off limits, like making other Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul family members angry. When asked who would win if Nacho Varga were to go toe-to-toe with Jesse Pinkman, he won’t humor us with an answer. “I have so much respect for those actors [from Breaking Bad], and I’ve met them all and they were extremely nice to us. But at the same time I wouldn’t put down Nacho Varga, you know? I don’t think Nacho Varga would appreciate anybody stepping on his toes.”

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