I met Richard Cabral, not "just" a celebrity. A storyteller, a poet, an actor - a human.
This was my experience, I had to share it with you all:
FIGHTING SHADOWS is the true story of one man’s search for love in a world meant for breaking, not bending. A brutal, truthful account of Emmy-nominated actor Richard Cabral’s early life as a notorious gang member in East LA, Fighting Shadows follows his life-affirming transformation out of the shadows of gangs, prison, and violence, and into a new world of family, art, and love. Armed with only his own tremendous will and the good work of Homeboy Industries and Father Greg Boyle, Richard’s story illustrates the possibilities of marginalized lives to reclaim spirit through poetry, music, and raw storytelling.
An actor, a poet and a storyteller - THE Richard Cabral! You may know him from TV shows, movies and most recently from the show Mayans M.C. on FX. What many don't know, is his journey on how he got to this point in his life. He recently performed in #FightingShadowsThePlay at The Rosenthal Theater (at Inner City Arts) in Los Angeles, CA. It's a one man show and opportunity for Richard to tell his story, act and recite his very own poetry.
In the first 10 minutes of the play, you learn that Richard was abandoned by his father at the age of 5 and his own mother would end up seeking "love" from countless men instead of just loving and being there for her son.
Richard longed for guidance and when his uncle was released from prison he followed in his footsteps by joining a gang at the age of 10. TEN!! A child. His innocence was stripped away. He grew up in a world where passing down prison pants was a rite of passage.
He stole bikes, served time in juvi, started doing drugs, then one night fought a complete stranger and shot him. He made a deal and went to prison for attempted murder for 5 years. Before going in, he learned that his girlfriend at the time was pregnant with his child. He was now abandoning his very own son the same as his own father. In that moment, he realized that the cycle was being repeated.
While in prison, he found himself angry over the contradictions of other inmates. A murderer of a teenage girl vs. a rapist - one was seen as worse than the other yet both did an evil act. He would then become aware that a new prison friend was actually someone he tried to kill many years prior to their newfound friendship. At the time, he knew nothing about this guy except he was in the wrong territory yet killing him was an option. Richard said, "I am you, You are me. We are one." Richard realized we are all human, we are someone's son.
Richard was finally released from prison and met his son face-to face on the doorstep, the place his own dad left him decades before. This wasn't just a father meeting his son, but a young boy meeting his father for the first time at 5 years old. He then began dating again and had a daughter. Looking into his daughter' s eyes, he knew he had to break the cycle - for himself, for his family.
Richard began working for Homeboy Industries as a Baker for two years. There, he met Father Greg, who saw Richard as a human and looked beyond his past. Richard now had the power to change his life, so he did by vowing to break the cycle and give back to the community.
There were many parts of the show that made my eyes tear up. One that stood out for me was that looking into his daughter's eyes was enough for him to become a person with purpose and to break that terrible cycle that had led him on such a destructive path. I've seen drugs, gangs, neglect & abandonment break up so many families and to see him overcome all of that truly inspired me and gave me so much hope.
Richard, you wrapped your hands around mine, looked into my eyes and expressed your gratitude for me coming to your show but really, thank YOU for sharing your story with a room full of strangers. I pray you know just how much your story gives me hope for the people around me going through similar situations. I know it won't be easy, but it can be done. I believe this so much!
You know, he shared so much about how he got into this life but not so much on how he got out (removing gang affiliations, etc.) so I would really love to hear more about that - maybe a Part Two to his play?? I hope so!
Thanks for stopping by to read this "different" blog post today. I felt compelled to share it with y'all, so thank you again! Stay in touch on social media: