Carlito Olivero on How Failure Inspires Him & Why ‘Step Up: High Water’ is a Dream Come True

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Carlito Olivero is a singer. Carlito Olivero is a dancer. Carlito Olivero is an actor. And Carlito Olivero is also one of the most humble and sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

Born in Chicago to a Puerto Rican father and Mexican mother, Carlito had big dreams of seeing his name in lights in a franchise that he adored. He got working on those dreams by first taking in part in school competitions. In 2007, Carlito went on to appear in MTV’s Making Menudo series, where he wound up being chosen as one of five to make up the new Menudo boy band. He then went to compete on season 3 of The X Factor, where he finished in 3rd place. Fast forward a few years, Carlito made his way to Hulu to star in the critically-acclaimed show, East Los High, which just wrapped up its final episode in December 2017 (*cue the waterworks* because I LOVED that show and Carlito’s character).

Now, the former East Los High star is taking his killer dancing skills to YouTube Red for their newest original series, Step Up: High Water. The role is nothing but a dream come true for the Step Up film fan, who told me that Step Up is the reason he chose to pursue acting.

Here, I discuss with Carlito the deets behind his character on YouTube Red’s Step Up series, the things that inspire him most, the influence dancing has had on his life, and more.

Exclusive Q&A With Carlito Olivero

Tell me a little bit about your character in Step Up: High Water.
His name is Davis and he’s an R&B singer. He is a young, homeless Latino living in Atlanta. Davis is a kid with a heart of gold who looks at the face of danger, but is always optimistic. He is a fighter and never gives up on his passion and what means the most to him, which is his family and friends.

In what ways do you relate to your character? In what ways are you different?
We are both hard workers, the word “NO” means nothing to us — we’re not quitters. No matter what happens, we are optimistic and look for the positive in life. We’re different in that Davis is a bit too trusting, I’m more reserved.

What’s one thing you admire most about this character?
How genuine he is.  No matter what happens to him, he always has an optimistic view on life and has a heart of gold. [He] always wants to do the right thing for his friends and his family.  Davis is someone I look up to even though he is just a character.

Were you a fan of the original Step Up film?
Of course! The reason why I became an actor and started acting was in the hopes of one day being able to be placed in a Step Up film. Little did I  know that I’d actually be acting in the series.  I’m super excited, and still can’t believe it. [I’m] still in shock.

{Why would I ever stop celebrating?}

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Naya Rivera is also part of this series — what’s the relationship between her character and your character like?
Naya plays Mrs. Jones, the principal of High Water, a school of arts. Mrs. Jones is a BOSS, that’s all I can say. She is a tough woman, but she gets stuff done. She cares about every single one of her students individually. She makes sure that Davis, as well as rest of the students, are doing okay school-wise and physically.

Dance has been apart of your life since you were very young. Can you share in what ways dance has helped you?
Yes! Dance has always been apart of my life but I never had any formal training, I just grew up loving it.  My father, along with my aunts and uncle, were break dancers growing up.  I always watched them dance. For me to get up and move my body to the rhythm was always second nature. While in high school, my friends and I bonded over dancing. It wasn’t until my music passion took off that I was thrown into the dance world, and I fell in absolute love with it. Dancing is something that every person has within them. There is no wrong way to dancing, [and] that’s what I love about it.  I train hard and want to get better as a dancer.

Is there one song, or album, that you would say is the soundtrack to your life? Why?
Not trying to sound biased, but I guess the music that I make [because] I make it from the heart and I try to be as real as possible.  I would say a “Background,” off my latest album Dreams Don’t Become Really While Sleeping V2, would be the song that explains my life in a nutshell.

What’s one thing that inspires you and gets you going?
For me to be better at what I do, to follow my passion and live out my dream, and to achieve every goal I am set out to achieve. Every day is a new audition for me, and every opportunity is a new stepping stone.  I want to inspire others and show them that if I can do it, they can do it as well.

Failure, if anything, inspires me. I know that I can only fail so many times but eventually, I will nail it and accomplish the goal that I was set out to do.

Step Up: High Water Premieres on YouTube Red on January 31st!

Watch the trailer below.

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