Allen Maldonado, 10 Latinos to Watch
Michael Buckner para Variety Latino

His long list of credits include The Young & the Restless, Dope, The EqualizerStraight Out of ComptonBlack-ish, and You’re the Worst. He’s a working actor, writer, director, producer and entrepreneur. But Allen Maldonado does not allow his busy shooting schedule to keep him from doing the things he’s most passionate about: helping others.

The 33-year-old, whose mother is African-American and dad was Puerto Rican, lost his father at the age of 7. His experience of becoming the man of the house at an early age shaped him into someone who gives back to his community, specifically kids who are in the foster care system. He started the acting and film camp Demo Nerds, where he works with at-risk youths who needed a little extra push.

“I work tirelessly. For these foster kids who don’t have anyone, it’s important to me that they feel that there’s someone who believes in them. Sometimes just a conversation can change an individual’s life. It doesn’t take hours to do something significant, it takes only a moment of support,” says Maldonado, who has selected as one of Variety Latino’s “10 Latinos to Watch” in 2016. “Also with my own family, my nieces and my nephews, I play father to them as well.”

After a year working on Young and the Restless, a drunk driver hit Maldonado while he was walking. The near-fatal collision gave him an even bigger appreciation for life. Even though it ended his stint on the long-running soap opera, it helped strengthen his faith in God and nurtured a new fearlessness of life. If given the chance to change anything about his life, he says he wouldn’t.

“I really wouldn’t change a thing. I am built to be the person that I am, to take on all the obstacles from the accident, to having a tumor in my back at one point. I’ve been through a lot of things that have made me stronger as an individual. Changing anything would change the dynamic of who I am today and how I function.”

The actor from Rialto, California, plays one of the leads in the TV movie Ringside where he portrays Welterweight Champion Spencer “Timber” Collier on the TV One Network. Being a longtime boxer, he was able to get in fight-ready shape in the short time allotted by the network.

“I’ve loved boxing since I was a kid,” he explains. “I had recently began training again in boxing just out of sport and love. It wasn’t really to fight. So when this role came about, I was pretty much ready to go. After getting the call, we really only had three weeks to prepare for the film.”

Up next for Maldonado is the launch in January of his Everybody Digital, a streaming app that will feature short films and short-form digital media.

No matter where life takes him, Maldonado is making sure he lives life to the fullest. No matter what the future brings for this actor, philanthropist, dreamer/doer, you can bet he’ll welcome it with his contagious smile.

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