Imagine glittery, sultry Miami Beach on New Year’s Eve in 1958. The Miramar Playa Hotel is hosting the hottest party in town. As Havana falls to Castro’s army some mere miles away, a compelling drama begins to play out among the Miami hoteliers who built the city, its Cuban residents and the organized crime members whose risky past acts as a catalyst for the momentous change that’s about to occur.
This is the city – make that Magic City – where Cuban American actor Yul Vazquez has immersed himself as Victor Lazaro. Lazaro is a Cuban hotel manager whose vacationing wife is stuck in Cuba as Castro begins his government takeover. Vazquez says he is able to explore Cuban identity in Miami as no show has ever done.
“The story of Victor Lazaro could be the story of any Cuban person or family that has been caught in political strife,” says Vazquez, whose uncle was a political refugee. “And Miami before the first influx of Cuban refugees was a completely different place. With the anti-Castro element, organized crime characters and everything that’s mixing and creating layers to the city, it’s tremendous material for a show in a way that’s never been done before.”
Vazquez, who grew up in Miami Beach and who has starred in compelling roles on Broadway, television and movies such as “Traffic” and “War of the Worlds,” stars alongside Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), Danny Huston (Children of Men, X-Men Origins), Steven Strait (City Island) and Kelly Lynch (Charlie’s Angels). Andy Garcia’s daughter Dominik Garcia-Lorido also stars in the original series set to air on April 6th on STARZ.
The Latin-flavored series is shot on set in Miami, an experience which Tony award nominee Vazquez calls “idyllic, beautiful and magical.” With Miami as the star, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character – hotelier Ike Evans – finds himself at odds with organized crime. Its danger is a stark contrast to Miami’s perpetually sunny days. It’s a show whose characters Vazquez describes as “completely true to life.”
“This is the best written Cuban character that I have ever played because, Cubans, just like people across other Latin American countries and backgrounds, don’t necessarily speak like ‘Scarface,’” says Vazquez. “And my character has a nice house, drives a nice car, has a fantastic job and is well educated. What happened to him could have happened to anyone and that story is part of my DNA as well.”
While shooting for “Magic City” wrapped up in December, production is expected to begin shortly for the show’s second season. Vazquez wouldn’t divulge the details of the show’s storyline, but promises it’s worth tuning in to.
“Cuba falls and Cubans coming over – that completely changed Miami, the country and the world,” remarks Vazquez. “That was a powerful time and that’s what you get with the show.”