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Catholic television actor credits faith in helping navigate career/life

Catholic television actor credits faith in helping navigate career/life

  |   Written by Paula Doyle

Article From Tidings Online

Filming a wedding scene in his own Los Angeles parish church was a bit jarring for actor Nestor Carbonell, who plays wealthy entrepreneur “Jonas Ray” on Lifetime Television’s acclaimed drama series, “Strong Medicine.”

“It was bizarre to film in a church where I worship every Sunday,” said Carbonell, 37, a native of New York City who attends St. Brendan Church. The busy television and film actor, who spent three lean years in Hollywood before landing his 1996-2000 break-out role as ladies’ man “Luis Rivera” in the sitcom “Suddenly Susan” starring Brooke Shields, will “marry” his television fiancé, “Dr. Lu Delgado,” in the Aug. 21 episode of “Strong Medicine” airing locally at 9 p.m.

Like his “Jonas” TV character, Carbonell comes from a large Cuban-American family. In spite of the fact that his family moved 13 times for his dad’s corporate position, his Catholic parents made sure Carbonell and his brother and sister attended Mass and received the sacraments.

“Catholicism was what I was raised in,” said Carbonell. “To me, it’s a map on how to lead your life. I’m glad I had it. I found it very important in my life to guide me.”

After getting bitten by the acting bug at Harvard, Carbonell performed in off-Broadway plays before moving west in his mid-20s to try his luck in Hollywood. “It was slim pickins’ my first three years in town,” said Carbonell. To support himself, he made fruit drinks at a juice bar and later taught English at night to Asian students in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. “I turned to my faith to find strength,” said Carbonell, who would often go to St. Ambrose Church in West Hollywood to sit and meditate during those struggling actor days.

In 1995, Carbonell was cast in the short-lived television series, “Muscle,” where he met his Australian-born Catholic wife, Shannon Kenny. Currently a stay-at-home mother to their two boys, Nestor Rafael, 3, and newborn Marco, Kenny has had a recurring role as a neighborhood mom on “7th Heaven.” She and the children visited her husband on the St. Brendan “set” during the episode’s taping in July.

When not acting or helping with the children, Carbonell works on a screenplay adaptation of a book, “Against All Hope,” written by Armando Valladares, who spent over 20 years in a Cuban prison because he objected to Fidel Castro’s communist revolution and refused to renounce his faith. In 2000, Carbonell wrote and starred in “Attention Shoppers,” a film about an actor who learns about life and love on his way to host the opening of a big box store.

Carbonell has appeared on several television shows, including “Century City,” “Scrubs,” “Monk” and “House, M.D.,” and has also lent his voice to the animated series “The Tick.” His movie roles include HBO’s “The Laramie Project,” “Manhood,” “Attention Shoppers” and “Noriega: God’s Favorite,” alongside his “Strong Medicine” co-star Rosa Blasi. He will appear in the upcoming film, “The Lost City,” co-starring Andy Garcia, Bill Murray and Dustin Hoffman.

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