Fan Fest Exclusive: Conor Husting on ‘The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia’

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Netflix’s The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia dropped yesterday and Conor Husting, who plays Tad, is so excited to star in this Latinx centered show.

“It’s about a young girl named Ashley Garcia, who is a super-genius. She went to college at nine and is now making robots for NASA. And in order to do that she moved to California with her uncle Victor who’s played by John Carlos.”

When Ashley, played by Paulina Chavez, moves to California, she meets Tad, a pure-hearted kid who sees the glass half full.

“He’s (Tad) just a very open-minded, optimistic, a happy kid. He sees the world differently than most, blurting out things others will find questionable but for him it all makes sense. He can be seen as a bit dull and I took a lot of inspiration for the character from like Kelso and That 70’s Show and Joeys from Friends.

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Husting credits his work on Netflix’s The Prince of Peoria for helping him land the role of Tad.

“I basically played a character called Tanner. All the groundwork for my character path was done when I was playing Tanner… And apparently, behind the scenes, they (Netflix and the casting directors) had a meeting and that they were having trouble casting the character and Robert Prince, who is one of the Netflix Execs who did The Prince of Peoria who also did Ashley Garcia, told them to have me read and they said, ‘Oh, we already auditioned him twice. And he’s no good’ and Prince said, ‘well bring him back, he’s probably having an off day.’ And then when I went back to the third time, they said, ‘Could you do it like Tanner and then it kind of it clicked and after that…I think he, I think Tanner was more of a two-dimensional character and he was kind of blank. It was like the base for Tad. And with Tad, I got to delve deeper into the character and he has kind of a more three-dimensional feel to me.”

Making an impact

Husting is half-Mexican and believes this show will have a positive impact on young Latinx viewers because they can see Latin actors and actresses on the screen. Another part of the show’s impact is bringing non-Latin characters into the culture.

“The show is really for everyone and not just for Latin people. The two other friends Reed (Horstmann) and Bella (Podaras) who played Brooke and Stick are white and it’s fun because I think that they get involved in the culture a lot and then there’s like jokes where they have no idea what Ashley’s really talking about when she talks about something Latin like a food or something and it’s just funny I definitely think that it’s for everyone, a feel good show… The culture is intertwined deeply into the show with the comfort food that Victor makes actually is Arroz con leche and that’s something that my Abuelita made me growing up, so those kind of small details are thrown in there. But it’s definitely not so much that no one can understand it, it’s just thrown in there very casually.”

Husting said his favorite part of the show has been getting to share it with his family and with other Latino people.

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“It feels amazing. I don’t think I really understood how big of a deal it was until my family got so happy and my mom kind of sat me down and talked to me about how the whole representation of Latinos and so yeah, I think now I’m really excited and honored to be a part of it. It’s very, very cool to get to bond with everyone like that.”

With a large Latin cast, Husting thought it was cool that they got to share their cultures with each other.

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“My mom got to make some dishes and I got to bring them to set for everyone who hadn’t tried them. And so yeah, there was definitely a comparing and sharing type of thing going on. Paulina who plays Ashley Garcia is a Mariachi singer who plays the violin, which she would perform for us and that’s really interesting. Especially, because I know very little about that side of the culture so yeah, definitely a lot of just sharing everything.”

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He also got to take away some valuable life advice as well.

“John Carlos instills a huge family and friends type of relationship with everyone. He treats everyone like they’re his brother. And it made me feel really good going in having this guy who just immediately was, you know, ‘hey, if you ever need a place to crash…’ So I feel like I’ll definitely take most of my impact for being a better person from his family and friends type of values.”

The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia was created by Mario Lopez and Seth Kurland. The 16 episode season is now on Netflix!

“It’s an awesome show. Check it out.”

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