Main > Series > Articles/Interviews > Jesse Borrego: Self Confidence the Hard Way

On TV, he's Fame's cool, opinionated, and talented "Jesse Velasquez." Here's a look at the off-screen Jesse.

He seems supremely self-confident, perhaps even cocky or brazen. But Jesse Borrego is not everything he appears to be. "Me? Self-confident?" he asks. "Maybe more so than I was before in my life. I mean, success brings a certain amount of assurance with it, but no, I'm not self-confident at all. Oh, I can look it all right, I've been able to develop that trait well - in the business you have to be confident. I live by the saying, 'When you don't know what you're doing, act like you do - and you'll fool everyone!' "

From all the indications, the young star has learned his act well. So well has he mastered the Hollywood swagger that it's hard to believe Jesse was once, in his own words, "A real nerd. In high school I really was," he laughs softly. "Man, I was one serious hardcore nerd. I wasn't popular at all. I was the outcast, a real loner."
All that has changed considerably. "The girls are hot for him," his publicist says. "When he walks into the room, there's silence, and you see all these women blatantly checking him out - wanting him!"

Is the feeling mutual? "Let's just say," Jesse reponds carefully, "that I find the female gender most fascinating." Though he appreciates the opposite sex, his dates are few and far between. "I rarely go out," Jesse notes. "I'd like to, but I just don't have the time, and a lot of people in this world are looking for a little more than just a date or two. They want to establish a relationship right off and I refuse to put myself in that situation."

What kind of women appeal to the 150 pound San Antonian? "The Renaissance woman," he explains. "Someone willing to accept challenges, venture out. I respect a woman who's not afraid to try new things, expand her knowledge and creativity."

Though he's keeping his romantic life light these days, Jesse does at some point hope to establish a steady relationship that leads to marriage and children. "I love children, but I don't want to put myself in that lifestyle for many, many years down the road," he says.

"The thought doesn't even cross my mind. Well, yes it does. I can imagine how it will be - it just seems far-fetched. I have to get to know myself first before I can take charge of someone else's life, or even get involved in someone else's. People take raising children for granted. Something to do. They say, 'Hey, let's have kids.' It's an enormous undertaking. It's devoting the rest of your life to another person until they can take care of themselves. I need to find myself, discover where I'm going and who I am, before I'm ready to guide someone else."

Jesse has served as his own guide, to a large extent, since he was a youngster. "I had a real hard childhood," he recalls.
"Never very stable. My father was in prison, I didn't get along with my mom. I ran away with my older brother, James. He's the only one I was every really close to."
Despite his difficult family life, Jesse maintained his balance and used his common sense. "I go a lot on feeling and gut instinct," he nods. "I knew I had to finish high school, had to keep away from drugs and the darker side of life to make it out there."

And make it he did. With a lot of studying and discipline, Jesse eventually wound up studying theatre at the prestigious Cal Arts College in Los Angeles. It was there that he first heard about the open casting call for Fame.

Knowing that he had to stand out from the other hopefuls trying out for the same role, Jesse went to the audition well prepared. He sang in Spanish and English and wore dance tights under his clothes. The audition was a tremendous success, but still, Jesse nearly lost out on the role!
"Somehow, they lost my phone number and address - they wanted to tell me I had the role, but no one could find me," he explains. "Finally, the casting department called a Los Angeles news station and asked them to put out a bulletin on the search for Jesse Borrego."
Luckily, a friend heard the report and told Jesse to get down to the Fame production office pronto. "Guess you could say that was one of the happiest moments of my life," says Jesse. "I love being on the show. Everyone is great, especially Nia Peeples. We've become close friends. I've learned a lot and I know I'm going to keep on learning and growing. There's so much to do."

Though he finds Fame fabulous, Jesse's future goals include movie roles. "I would have loved being in Silverado, I'd be great in a western - kind of like the half-breed comes to town or something."

He'd also love to sing professionally. "I am pretty good," he admits. "I sing with a band. What I love listening to is rockabilly music. I like rhythm and blues, B.B. King, Muddy Waters. All the oldies. I like rock too. I loved the Stray Cats. Madonna, well I tend not to like an artist for the artist's sake, but for what they do. I love Prince. He's a musical genius."

Jesse enjoys doing intereviews, too. "It's good to talk about the positive things, how I made it, how I came from a hard, unhappy childhood and found my dream. A lot of youngsters out there could use encouragement, see someone else has done it."


© Tiger Beat, Feb. 1986

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