📷 Photography by Jonny Marlow
Hi Robby! Tell us a bit about the work you do.
I’m an actor and playwright, born and raised in Miami.
I play Cuban wrestler Diego Cottonmouth on Heels, the Starz TV series about professional wrestling. I wrote and produced my first play, The Walls Have Ears, about political prisoners in Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis — it recently premiered at Westchester Cultural Arts Center. The play’s Spanish version, Las paredes oyen, opens April 27.
What neighborhood(s) are you reppin’?
Born and raised in Westchester. I’m now a nomad going wherever my work takes me.
What brings you most alive about the 305?
Its culture, traditions and neighborhoods, like Coconut Grove, Little Havana, the Gables and — one of my favorites — a stroll down Lincoln Road.
What’s your favorite Miami memory?
It’s a tie between celebrating Noche Buena as a kid with the extended family and celebrating the Miami Heat LeBron-era championships. There’s nothing as exhilarating as taking pots and pans to La Carreta to make some good noise after a big win.
How does Miami help you do what you do or influence your work?
Miami definitely influenced me to write my first play, The Walls Have Ears. I grew up knowing that my grandfather spent nine years as a political prisoner at Cuba’s notorious Presidio Modelo on Isla de Pinos. In 2015, I sat down with my grandfather to chronicle his experiences as a dissident and as a prisoner in a tropical gulag.
By writing this play, I hope to pay tribute to people like my grandfather and to the Cuban diaspora that sacrificed so much to give my generation freedom and a better life.
If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Chicken Philly with extra Swiss from Flanigan’s. And throw in the potato skins!
Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Miami day.
What’s your favorite local social media account and why?
@chatchowtv on Instagram, run by foodie and cocktails influencer Gio Gutierrez. It keeps me in the loop on new restaurants and bars in Miami. Plus, he’s my boy – tremenda buena gente!
If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?
Grab a cafecito at Versailles. Besides being a Miami landmark, it serves the best Cuban coffee in town.
If there was one thing you could change, address, etc. about Miami, what would it be?
I would encourage Miami to follow the example of cities like Atlanta and offer better tax breaks and incentives to the entertainment industry. Miami could be a major Hollywood hub. It’s the only way we can continue to tell our stories authentically. But at the moment, film and TV projects based on Miami stories are being shot in places like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Atlanta. It’s a shame it’s not happening more often in the Magic City.
What are you looking forward to in 2023?
Besides finishing the Spanish version of my play that runs from April 27 through May 14 at Westchester Cultural Arts Center in Tropical Park, I’m acting in a new HBO show called Duster by J.J. Abrams in Albuquerque, NM. And season two of Heels, which drops on Starz this summer!
I’m also looking forward to advancing other writing projects that I’m working on, all based on Miami and Cuban stories.
That’s a wrap on this week’s Locals to Know. Know someone who ought to be featured or would like to be featured yourself? Reach out by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “TNT Locals to Know 2023.” If chosen, you might just see yourself or a friend in a future newsletter.