Growing up, most of us tried to hide our “nerdy” hobbies to the best of our abilities. But lately, thanks to the rise of major fandoms like Game of Thrones and the resurgence of the Star Wars films, the geeks are loud and proud! As a self-proclaimed nerd and professional escapist, Leo shares the path of forging a career & building a community within his favorite fandoms. From working with Disney and traveling to the parks, to Cosplay & Disneybounding – he’s living the Disney-lovers dream!
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Leo Camacho is host, performer and social media personality with a diverse background in pop culture entertainment. A digital renaissance man, he is best known for his work in the Disney community on YouTube and in developing micro-community trends such as Disneybounding and Comic-Con culture. He has since worked for a number of community driven brands such as Marvel, Hot Topic, and Nintendo, and Warner Brothers on a variety of creative projects including hosting, cosplay, fashion, and acting. A Swiss army knife of geekdom, Leo is always looking for new ways to entertain audiences with an authentic voice and passion for community.
We talk about embracing your nerdiness within, how Leo got into cosplay and flipped his $60 costume for $400, his strange attraction to an animated squirrel (you have to listen to understand), and our thoughts on all of the new Disney movies coming out in 2019!
The community aspect of finding likeminded subcultures and fandoms
Leo’s discovery of cosplay and how he flipped his first $60 cosplay costume for $400
- Leo’s “big break”: Starring as Prince Eric in Traci Hines’ 2012 viral video of “Part of your World” from the Little Mermaid
- Briefly working at Disneyland as a Jungle Cruise skipper after an impromptu interview
“You never know where opportunity is going to present itself, but it’s up to you to take advantage of those moments and to capitalize on them.”
– Leo Camacho
- “How do you do what you do?” – the most frequently asked question addressed
- The emergence of influencer marketing and how it has changed the way we intake brand messaging
- The 2019 Disney movie releases Leo is most looking forward to
- Stay tuned till the end of the show for our Disney Favorites lightning round!
Favorite animated movie (1999 and earlier)
Favorite animated movie (2000s and newer)
Favorite animated character (of all time)
Favorite ride at Disneyland and Disneyworld
- Most underrated Disney movie
Best Disney original song
…and much more!
Keep scrolling for full transcript!
“You have to actively see the opportunities in which you are to be lucky, in order to take advantage of them.”
Movies & Shows Referenced
I know I’m missing some…still adding to the list of all the movies we talked about during the show. If you notice a certain movie missing, leave it in the comments below!
Full Interview Transcript
Ashley: Welcome to the Adult Struggles, podcast where we explore the idea of adulting and how to overcome life obstacles. We’re all adults here, or are we? If you’re waiting for adulthood to strike down upon you, you’re going to be disappointed. The truth of the matter is whether you’re 20, 30, 40… you’re always going to feel like you’re figuring things out. Adulting is a lifelong process and wherever you are in that journey, I’m here to help you sort things out. I’ll be sharing my life lessons and those of my guests in the hopes of helping overcome your own… Adult Struggles.
You’re listening to Adult Struggles Episode 29. I’m your host, Ashley. You’re in for a treat today, but fair warning, this is a long episode. Sorry, not sorry. There was just too much to cover with my guest, Leo Camacho, but I promise you every minute of the conversation you’re about to hear was absolutely necessary. Leo is a host, performer, and social media personality with a diverse background in pop culture entertainment. You may recognize him from one of the big breakout videos that he did with Traci Hines, where he played Prince Eric from the Little Mermaid. He’s had opportunities many people only dream of (including myself ), from traveling to Australia for a Pirates of the Caribbean promo, to walking the red carpet dressed up as a Marvel character, to roaming the Disney parks just to try the latest churro flavor, all in the name of social influence!
Not going to lie, I was pretty excited to get a little nerdy with someone as well-versed in Disney as Leo is. So if I sound a little bit off the wall, uh, more than usual, that’s probably why. We talk about a lot of stuff in this episode. We talk about how to embrace your nerdiness within and how Leo has really made a career off of that, the work that goes behind being a social influencer, how Leo got into cosplay and actually flipped his first $60 costume for $400, his strange yet adorable (and understandable) attraction to an animated squirrel. And be sure to stay tuned until the end when we do a Disney favorites lightning round! All right, so grab your Mickey ears and let’s get to adulting!
Ashley: Hi Leo, Welcome to the Adult Struggles podcast! How are you doing?
Leo: Oh, I’m doing just fine. How are you?
Ashley: I’m good, thanks.
Leo: Thanks for having me.
Ashley: Yeah, of course! I initially found you online because of your major presence within the Disney world. I’m a huge Disney fan. But I was thinking, you know, how can I spin this into a podcast without just talking Disney stuff, right?
Leo: Where’s the struggle in Disney?
Ashley: Yeah. Where’s the struggle in this? But I was kinda thinking, you always hear this silly little saying when you’re younger, something like ‘be nice to the nerds, they’ll be your boss one day.’ You know that, that little cliche that people always throw out there. And it made me kind of think of you because, even in your bio and on Youtube and things, you’ve said things like you’re a ner- What do you say in your bio? You say “nerd trash.”
Leo: Finally someone acknowledges the nerd trash! I’ve been waiting for this.
Ashley: You are a self proclaimed nerd who embraced the nerdy side, the quirks, the unique traits. And that’s not something that we typically do growing up. So I’m curious to hear, is that always how you’ve been? Have you always kind of embraced that side of yourself? Were you ever teased for doing what you love?
Leo: You know, I think about this sort of thing a lot because I feel that geek culture/nerd culture is mainstream now. I mean, you can’t even argue it any more. The numbers don’t lie. Look at the budgets of a Marvel movie and tell me that geek culture is not the most relevant thing out there. Right? Look at the growth of Dungeons and Dragons. Look at Disney. Disney’s cartoons and a theme park that’s like nerdy stuff; childhood, uh, latent childhood tendencies. But as a kid, and uh, obviously when I was a kid, the Internet, you know, it wasn’t what it is now. There was no communication on, on this widespread level. And so being a nerd was a much more isolating thing. I think the Internet is sort of what closed that gap. It allowed people to communicate and talk about it with each other and proliferate the knowledge.
Right? But as a kid that didn’t exist. So if you like something nerdy, you didn’t know if you could talk about it with someone else because it was like you’re a little kid and when you’re a kid, for whatever reason, everybody wants to grow up and be cool and be an adult. Right. And I never wanted that. I wanted to still watch Disney movies. I still wanted to watch anime. I still wanted to play video games. I still wanted to play board games, all that kind of thing. And that sort of what gets you picked on, or at least it did. Right? And it was like a nerd thing. You were in your mom’s basement, you don’t, girls won’t talk to you, which that part was true, but um, but so like I knew generally growing up that like I was sort of a little bit on the, on the fringes, Right?
(00:05:20) I didn’t quite understand why though, because I was also like a multisport athlete. But there was something about like deeply connecting with someone over things that kind of don’t matter and are all sort of revolving around imagination and, and strange fantasy and like depth that about things that aren’t real, that isolates you a little bit, right? Like not everybody wants to do that sort of thing. Everybody wants to be involved in more mainstream ideas and be part of like the crowd. But when you start like getting into the nuances of why Vegeta works harder than Goku, like nobody wants to talk to you. You know, when you, when you start arguing, why, why is, is Pocahontas technically a princess even though she’s in the Disney princess…? You know what I mean? Like those sorts of conversations, uh, tend to alienate a lot of people because you have to have a certain breadth of knowledge to discuss them.
(00:06:08) You have to find someone else who finds that interesting. You have to have research, the materials, you have to have like enjoyed it and yeah, and not everybody has the time or the capacity to do those sorts of things. So yes, I knew I was a nerd. I knew it was sort of like on the outskirts a little bit. I didn’t have a ton of friends because not a ton, a ton of people do that sort of thing. And then, but as I grew up, I just sort of learned how to manage it. I never stopped it. Like I was in chess club, I was in anime club. Uh, I’ve been a Disney annual passholder for as long as I can remember. I collected comic books. I still collect video games, like, like that was always in the, in my life and my home life.
(00:06:39) It was always present, but I knew that when I was in public, not everybody wants to hear about those sorts of things. So I found a way to kind of tuck it away and force myself to be as social as possible. I was a shy kid, but then when I got to college I realized that nobody knows what they’re doing. Everybody sort of just making it up as you go. Right? I went to private school my whole life. And I remember when I was on college campus for the first time, I saw somebody smoking as they walked across the quad and I was just like, wait, you can, you can do that?! You can just smoke. And then I realized like yeah, you can do whatever you want as an adult. I can be into whatever I want. Like there’s no rules against deep diving into subculture, right?
(00:07:19) But what I found was not everybody does that sort of thing and they instantly cast you out. But with the Internet, subculture is a way of life. You’re getting involved with different people that are like-minded constantly through Twitter, through Instagram. You’re putting it out there in hopes of connecting with other people. Right? And that is how you found me. I put my love of Disney out there and created content around Disney. You’re a Disney fan. You looked up Disney things and you find my content, and here we are on this podcast together. So instead of something that pushes people apart, it turns out this whole time subculture fandom culture was something to bring people together and that’s what we sought out. That’s why Comicon is so big. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a mecca. It’s a place where people can unite over the things that they love. So now I have a career based on something that once set me apart and that’s the way it should be with everything. When you see an exceptional athlete, they ended up building a career because they can do something that other people cannot. When you see an exceptional speaker, they get into politics and might become the president. It’s the standouts in every vertical in life that end up, I guess sort of “making it” for lack of a better term.
Ashley: Right, exactly.
Leo: Sorry, that was very long winded answer.
Ashley: No, it’s very informational. I loved it. And I think you’re absolutely right. The Internet has really brought people together in this very unique way. And I think before we only ever paid attention to the super talents in those major arenas like sports and, and acting and all of that. It’s amazing. And I mean you yourself are super talented. Just to give everyone a quick rundown before we dive into some of these topics further, but from what I’ve gathered, you make videos, act, host, draw, of course there’s cosplay and I’m probably leaving things out, so this is a running list.
Leo: I mean, I would say I’m a nerdy Swiss army knife I, I kind of do a lot of different things. I like to, I like to fix and I like to fit, right? Like wherever there’s a need I want to adapt and supplement that need.
Ashley: And I was also very surprised to hear you throw out that you were an athlete in school too.
Leo: Yeah, I don’t really talk about that one a lot. I feel because it’s not really present in my life now, but I played baseball my entire life. I played hockey, I played basketball, I did track and cross country. I was a very, very active kid. But that really doesn’t play into the sort of zeitgeist of, you know, the nerd culture thing. It’s weird when people say like sports ball. I hate that because that’s the same thing as saying like making fun of somebody for liking comic books. It’s like don’t disregard athletes either. Like sports are fun and they provide a million things for all kinds of people like entertainment and health and all these sorts of like the same thing that, that the Disney movies mean to me is what sports mean to other people. So I don’t, I don’t like that division. It’s just, it’s just that conversation hasn’t quite mixed the two fluidly. You know what I mean?
Ashley: Yeah. It’s almost like you were, you know, you were saying, nerds used to be kind of looked at as the weird ones and now it’s, it almost feels like it’s reversed.
Leo: Yeah, like you don’t watch Game of Thrones?! What’s wrong with you, dude?
(00:10:19) COSPLAY & PLAYING PRINCE ERIC
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. Okay, so let’s first start with cosplay because I think that’s probably one of the things that you’re most well known for. A lot of that type of content is on your Instagram. So how did all of that get started? Was there like a Halloween party that sparked interest in like amazing costumes or what got you interested in that?
Leo: Well, uh, first and foremost, I’m an escapist, right? And I, and I consider myself a professional, escapist. I think that’s what Disney is and Disneyland and what it has to offer is sort of like escaping into the, the theater of the mind and letting imagination run its course. And I think that’s what video games are, right? You just go into that world, you dive in, you become those characters. Escapism. And cosplay is a literal becoming of a new character, right? Like you are stepping into those characters clothes, quite literally, you are becoming them. So that’s always just sort of been who I am. But I always was into costuming because I wanted to, I wanted to be them. I wanted to find a way to do that. But obviously as a kid that – cosplay – didn’t exist, and so I would have my mom make me costumes that you couldn’t buy in the store, cause store costumes are the worst.
(00:11:27) They never look right or they don’t fit right or they’re weird. Or there’s one thing, like I want to dress up as Spiderman, but no Spiderman costume in a store has the hands, like it cuts off at the sleeve level and that’s not how Spiderman looks. You know, like there’s always something wrong or like it’s like a plastic drape with a weird mask with the holes cut out. No, no, I want to BE the character. I don’t want to wear a sheet that says the name of the character. So I’d always have my mom make me weird like costumes. Like I wanted to be Robin Hood, the fox Robin Hood. It was the first costume I wanted (like from Disney’s Robin Hood) and I remember it was, the first costume I wanted, I asked my mom to make me cause I wanted to do it and of course she can’t make me into a fox, but my mind couldn’t comprehend that.
(00:12:05) So she just made me like the green parts of the outfit and I was like, well now I’m just Peter Pan. And I remember like still like who cares, I’ll be Robin hood. And then later on, I wanted to be a fox. I wanted to be the fox lost boy from Peter Pan, funny enough. And so she made me a fox outfit and, and but it was always things that you couldn’t just simply buy. And as I got older I wanted to keep doing it. I wanted to keep embodying these characters that I couldn’t, it didn’t have any ready made costumes that you could buy. Um, I remember I was like Luigi one year, I was Subzero one year, I was Neo from The Matrix. And my mom had to make me this big like frock just to look like. And those are the sorts of things that I really enjoyed, like fantasy, escapism.
(00:12:45) And then one day I was really into actually the anime Naruto, very or very early on it was like imported from Japan. Like it wasn’t even in English yet, like many years ago. And I remember thinking like, Oh cool, these characters are fun. I wonder if like anybody has ever made a costume of them. And I looked it up and that’s when I discovered what cosplay was because I had seen all these people doing it. They were all Japanese and they were doing it at conventions, which I didn’t even know existed at the time. And I was like, what? What? Where are they that there aren’t many of them in costume? And I went deeper and I searched and I found cosplay.com which was just a fraction of the community that it is today. And, and I learned about people costuming at things like Comic-Con and so I want it to be part of the action.
(00:13:28) I wanted to jump in. So I made my first, like before they were a Halloween costumes, I can only do it once a year. This was the first time I was going to make a costume for the sake of making costuming, and just wearing it out in public. So I attempted to make a Jack Sparrow costume and I went to the thrift store. I spent like 60 bucks and I made this super janky, just run down rat ratty pirate costume that was supposed to be Jack Sparrow. And I wore it, to Comicon, I think it was like maybe 2007 or something like that. And I remember thinking like, holy cow, I look like garbage compared to the people that are here, but I still had so much fun. I was still welcomed and everybody wanted photos regardless of the fact. So you know, I ate it up, I had fun, I played I, I costumed and I played – cosplay! And then I went home and I just like put the costume up on Ebay to see if anybody would just buy it because I didn’t think I was like, ah, maybe I was a little out of my depth there.
(00:14:18) And then it’s sold for $400 and I was like, I made this from 60 bucks and it sold for $400! I couldn’t believe it. So then I took that $400 and then I made a movie accurate version of Jack Sparrow. And the reaction to that at the next Con that I wore that to, which was Anime Expo, don’t ask why I wore a Disney costume… Back then the rules were there was a little more loosey goosey. People do that now, but like now it’s more like gaming and anime and then you go to the… Whatever, whatever, the meta is ridiculous. But then I wore it there and the reaction was so overwhelming, like people responded so much more positively. They were just drawn to those, the accuracy of the costume. And that’s when I was like, all right, I’m going to do this all the time. Fast forward to getting cast as Prince Eric and Traci Hines’ live action “Part of your World” music video that I was in.
(00:15:07) And then everybody was like, oh my God, you look exactly like Prince Eric – that’s wild! And I was like, yeah, it’s pretty, pretty crazy, huh? And then overnight I get like 5,000 followers and I was like, uh Oh, oh there’s something here, here. So I thought, well, I look like a lot of characters. So I did Aladdin and, and then that blew up all over the place. And I was like, wait a second, like you’re telling me that I can live this fantasy life of costuming that I’ve always loved. I can tap into my genuine fandom of Disney by the way, I’m not just trying to cash in on an opportunity. I love Disney, don’t, don’t get me twisted. Like I said, my very first costume was the Robin Hood. And so I was just like, oh so I can just make a bunch of content around this because no one else is doing it.
(00:15:48) And, and just like connect with people over it. And people started following more and more and more. And that was a sort of natural transition into Disneybounding and like acting cause I was more of a character cosplayer instead of just like, like for me, it’s not about the craft of making the costume. For me it’s about becoming the character. So I always say I’m a character actor who cosplays, where I feel like most cosplayers are craftsmen who wear their work. So yeah, it’s that again, I’m a, I’m a talker so always feel free to shut me down. But that is how it happened.
Ashley: So would you say that cosplay was kind of your entry into like a bunch of different opportunities because it sounds like that’s what really started early on and has opened a bunch of doors for you, were you even, were you interested in acting like prior to cosplay?
Leo: I’ve always liked entertaining but I’d never, no, no I never, I never saw it as like a viable path. Like the way it all started, I was working in human resources and I made like a fake band on Myspace, like back in the day. But I’m a graphic designer by trade. That’s, that’s what I studied. And so I made it look super legitimate. Like I made the band look really real. And thedn I notice that people started following me even though it was garbage. It was literally me doing video game acappella cover music. It was horrible. There was a joke and then, and then everybody just kept following it and I realized it was all about branding. So I got into the video game world that way. And then once I started making those connections, I met a lot of people on Youtube. So as that scene developed, uh, I sort of developed along with it and started hosting. So hosting was my primary thing. I really like sort of train-of-thought thinking, I love reacting off of other people and learning about them through discussion and also just discussing ideas of things and movies and places, whatever. And then once I started kind of being comfortable with myself and being able to sort of unlock that part of myself, acting became appealing. But initially it wasn’t part of the journey, no.
Ashley: Okay, interesting. I guess I was, as I was trying to piece together your timeline in my mind before we even spoke, I was thinking, oh like he must be an actor. This is his dream and then cosplay was more of like this fun side hobby. So it’s interesting to hear that it was really like, yeah, the exact opposite.
Leo: Because I grew up in LA county, like 45 minutes out of LA, and, and it’s like one of those things where you like know that people do it but you never think you’re going to do it. You know? Like I was like, no, I’m going to work in like management at a retail chain or something like that. Like that’s what I thought I was going to do. I thought it was going to be in HR for the rest of my life or something like that. And then I got a taste for it and I was like, oh, maybe I should just shift directions. But even that said, as I pursued it, I still had to have a job. So I worked in HR and then I was actually doing, because I got into social media so early, I got into the world of digital marketing and uh, you know, social media content strategy and stuff like that.
So I started doing that for a company. I was doing it for the Google Lunar XPrize. So basically science and space and technology. And so while I was working there, which was another five year stint, I was understanding how to build a brand, how to design content and content calendars and stretch all that stuff out. And I was like, why don’t I just do this for myself? You know?
Ashley: Right, personal branding.
Leo: Exactly. So then halfway towards the end of my run there, I sort of deviated and decided to do it for myself. But I had like spent 10 years getting to that point. It wasn’t an overnight thing. It wasn’t like I just magically got an internet following. Like it took a long time to truly understand the ins and the outs, to understand the industry, to put in the time to know what I was doing because it wasn’t my plan initially, like we said. So there’s a lot of work that goes into this. Everybody thinks because you’re on the Internet, it just happened for you, but they never see the failures that happened before.
Ashley: Right. And everything that it took to get to where you are now. You didn’t get 100,000 followers in a week.
Leo: No, but you know, I do know people that do have those things happen.
Ashley: Yeah, not to say it can’t be done.
Leo: Yeah, that’s the pursuit of the dream, right? We all hope to be that kid who’s walking in an alley and then some guy with a cigar goes, ‘hey, you kid, you want to be the star, my next film you look perfect.’ And then we’re like, yeaaah! You know, that’s like obviously the fantasy, but that’s not the reality. That’s a very, very, very, very, very small percentage of people that get those outstanding opportunities.
Ashley: Yeah. So I’m curious, I want to go back for just a second before we move on. I know that that Prince Eric video for you was pretty monumental. Who saw the resemblance? Was that something that you always thought like, man, I look like Prince Eric? Or did someone point that out to you?
Leo: Well, even as a kid, I knew, I looked like Prince Eric when the Little Mermaid came out, I was like, Whoa, that guy has my fe- …every, every like default protagonist always looks like me a little bit because I have such a generic features. But like, but uh, Prince Eric specifically stood out to me cause he had a light eyes and uh, and then McDonald’s had like a Happy Meal toy for the Little Mermaid. They had like a series of Happy Meal toys and there was one with the little green boat with a little Eric inside holding Sebastian and you could remove him. And I used to pretend that that was me cause it looked like me. So I would like play with him like amongst my other figures and pretend I was like running around. So I kind of knew that. And then as I got older, it was always kind of a joke.
(00:20:57) Like, ‘Hey, you kind of look like the guy from the Little Mermaid.’ And then Aladdin too. But when Traci was making this video she had, there’s a, there’s a, oh my gosh, I’m totally… Firefly Path! She’s like a designer and she makes these crazy beautiful fairy wedding gowns and dresses and very like ethreal and magical. And she was the one designing the costumes for, for that video. And she happened to be a friend of mine because when I started my very first day on set back in the day, she was the makeup person and that’s how we became friends. And now she had this like company which was making costumes and then she was hired to do that and they had done a casting call and like 200 guys auditioned. And the girl playing Ariel, Traci Hines, the girl who’s video it was, was just not satisfied.
(00:21:41) She was like, well none of these guys that look like Eric and there’s no speaking. So he needs to look like Eric and Joellen from Firefly Path just suggested, she’s like, you know, ‘I have a friend Leo, he kinda, he kinda looks exactly like him,’ and then she showed her my pictures. She was like, ‘oh my God, call him up!’ And I landed, I landed from Italy, I was on vacation and she called me right as I was in the airport and I was like, yeah, I’ll do it. And I had no idea what that was going to entail. I didn’t know like the scope of it. Nothing. Like it was just like, oh, that sounds like fun. And it literally came to define the rest of my life. Isn’t that wild?
Ashley: Yeah. That is amazing.
Leo: Crazy. It’s so crazy. You see, that’s the thing is you never know where opportunity is going to present itself, but it’s up to you to take advantage of those moments and to capitalize on them.
Ashley: So I don’t think I could’ve said it better myself!
(00:22:28) LAYING THE GROUND WORK TO “GET LUCKY”
Leo: I always say I have a little note in my wallet I carry around and it says, ‘luck is the residue of design’ because I believe that you only get lucky if you put yourself in a position on purpose to be lucky, right? You have to actively see the opportunities in which you are to be lucky in order to take advantage of them. Because if you walk away from the table and you roll the seven like you know, you don’t know if you won or not, you have to stay there. You have to actively be part of that. So, uh, and, and run with it too when you get it. I mean sometimes it seems crazy, but you just got to do it.
Ashley: Yeah. And you clearly live that out in everything that you do. It’s very evident that you are constantly finding these opportunities. And I mean I feel like it takes a lot of like prior effort and training and all of that in order to be prepared and ready when these opportunities come your way. Because if you’re just sitting there waiting for things to happen and then they come along well, you’re not going to be fit for…
Leo: Well, how are those things going to come to you if you’ve never laid the groundwork for them to discover you in the first place. Like a lot of people feel very entitled in Los Angeles. They feel like they should just be famous already, but they don’t realize just how much work goes into everything. Even acting, when people think it’s so, but there’s so much technique that goes into it and so much networking that to even stand out. Millions of people live in the city and they’re all pursuing the same dream and a million, one million’s a big number, seven million’s an even bigger number. And to be one of them, it’s hard. It’s hard. How do you stand out? How are you unique amongst them? What, why you? That’s the question I tell everyone, not just for pursuing entertainment but in marketing because I also do marketing. It’s like why you?
(00:24:10) Why are people coming to your page? Why are people watching you? What makes you interesting and unique and what makes you special? What makes you relatable? Like I’m not saying that everyone has to be sort of this Elon Musk stand out figure, but you have to have something to offer, right? You have to develop a trade. Just because you can draw it doesn’t mean you’re the best artists and so you have to practice, you have to advance that technique. You have to have a style that’s unique to you that people want to see more of. And that takes time and effort, like you said, upfront costs.
Ashley: Yeah. And it’s, it’s crazy because it didn’t used to be that way. Or I guess the world, the world didn’t work that way when we were growing up, right? It’s like our parents had the thing they could have as a stable job. That’s awesome. Like what more could you want? Right. And then once we grew up and went to college and graduated college, things were different. It’s like now you have to, like you said, differentiate yourself.
Leo: I would like to make a note: I did not graduate from college.
Ashley: Ok, side note! But having gone there, you know the drill.
Leo: Yeah. I went to college, I did not finish…
Ashley: But hey, it didn’t work out so bad. I mean…
Leo: Hey Adult Struggles, you know what I mean?
Ashley: Yeah. There we go.
(00:25:23) HOW INFLUENCER MARKETING HAS CHANGED ADVERTISING
Leo: You have to think about, think about that. Like the world is in a place now where you have a show simply because you wanted it to have one. Right? And now you’re connecting with me, some stranger on the Internet from hundreds of miles away. Right. And here we are discussing the similarities that we have in our life. Like that is advent technology at it’s finest. That is opportunity and that is you taking advantage of that opportunity and optimizing it.
Ashley: Yeah. Something I don’t think we could have even dreamed of, even in the Myspace days, ya know?
Leo: No, no back then there was no way to capture content effortlessly, but now everyone’s got a 4K camera in their pocket with high definition microphones in them. Right. It’s easy to upload it to computer. You have access to editing software, you can put it together, you can upload it on youtube and literally within an hour you can have thousands of people viewing anything that you want to say. As long as you say something interesting or not, who knows? Maybe you’re just eating watermelon and people are really into that. Everything’s possible. Anything’s possible. You just have to freaking do it.
Ashley: Exactly. You’re so passionate about this. I love it! So as much as you admire Disney, have you ever worked like in the parks for fun or…?
(00:26:27) WORKING IN DISNEYLAND (FOR A MONTH)
Leo: Ya know, I did for a month.
Ashley: And how was that experience?
Leo: It was great for what it was, but, so it was while I was working in human resources and I went with a friend of mine. She wanted, she needed a job so she went to Disneyland to apply to be a character, uh, ‘mickmunk’ as they are affectionately known – Mickey Mouse and Chip & Dale, like that height, like a performer. And I went with her and I just started talking to the HR recruiter there and because I was like, I’m a recruiter too, let’s be buddies. And and through that conversation she was like, ‘oh you, you really have the gift of gab, would you be interested in like a position?’ And I was like, ‘well no, I have a full time job. The only thing I would ever want to do is to be a Jungle Cruise skipper.’ And I know that that’s like a highly sought after position.
Leo: It would never happen. She was like, well, are you free for a meeting? And I was like, what? And sure enough, she put me in a room, she actually put me in another person’s meeting with another recruiter. And the person I was in the meeting with was doing custodial and, and she had a very poor grasp of English. I’m bilingual, I speak Spanish. So like I was talking to her in Spanish and the recruiter in English, but the questions he was asking her were vastly different from the questions he was asking me because he was testing my humor and my wit and my quickness and he was asking her like previous work experience and if she would be okay, like sweeping and is her back okay. And it was like very, it was weird. It was this juxtaposed moment and, and he’s like, Oh yeah, you’re funny.
(00:27:48) And literally the next week I started as a Jungle Cruise skipper. So I went through the training, I only did like one boat ride or something like that. And then I quit because I literally couldn’t handle my, didn’t have the capacity in my life to do a full time job, and then also a part time job.
Ashley: Right, cause you still have your HR job!
Leo: I still have my eight hour job! And like a 10-hour job. I only did it because I wanted to see what it was like. So I went through it and I remember I quit on Halloween, I can’t remember what year, but it was a Halloween that I was just like, I can’t, I’m breaking down. I can’t do it anymore. Because it was like I would get home from work and then have to just like go to work.
Ashley: As much as it was like, you’re still exhausted.
Leo: Yeah, it was a cool job, and I would definitely recommend to anybody to work at Disney. Like it’s such a unique atmosphere, but it was just too much for me. So I guess that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten. But, uh, I’ve worked as like a contractor for Disney many times and they’re always a joy to work with.
Ashley: Yeah. Well that’s cool. And I know on your social media, I’ve also seen you traveling to different Disney trips and attending different themed events at the park. So how did those types of opportunities open up for you, if you can talk about that? And was traveling something that you always wanted to be able to do in your career?
(00:28:59) FAQ: HOW DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? INFLUENCER MARKETING
Leo: It’s kind of, it’s interesting because this is definitely the most common question I get. It’s like, how do I do what you do? How do I like get these opportunities? But, but like in one sense I’m like at this point, if you’re following me on social media and you’re, you know, you, you see that I’m consistently doing it, like I’m doing it because you’re watching. You know what I mean? Like Disney has given me these opportunities because I have an audience and so that’s a big part of it. But the way I got there was it was a slow grind. It’s like creating content and getting people to notice me and like value my voice. And then the things I had to say through creating different kinds of content, like with Disneybounding, I was one of the first pioneers of Disneybounding and one of the first people to do a photo set on Tumblr ever.
(00:29:40) Like I might’ve even been the first male to do it. Like, that’s how little content there was around that. And that’s why I got known for it, and I started getting interviewed by all these newspapers and, shows, radio shows, TV shows, like everybody was talking to me about Disneybounding cause I was sort of like the guy, I was the one who was owning it as part of their brand and creating content around it. But I was also hosting podcasts about Disney news and I was also creating the first Disney collaborative Youtube channel. So people like associated me with someone who went to the parks and gave solid advice on how you should approach food or rides or planning your day or you know, what’s new and what’s happening. So I became like a respected voice in the community. Disney as well as many other companies started wising up to the fact that, hey, these guys are doing the content for us.
(00:30:20) Let’s just put them in the boat and have them explain it. Because when a brand does it, it comes off as a commercial and they have so much red tape they have to go through to get the branding and the voice just right. But with me, there’s a flexibility. There’s an authenticity. There’s an organic nature to the way that I’m delivering that message that audiences resonate. And that’s how it is with any entertainer, any influencers, so to speak. Like that’s why you follow them because you value how they approach the subject. Right. And so Disney, uh, saw that I was putting in the work and I’m doing all of these things, I started actually my very first brand deal ever was with Disney theatrical for Pirates of the Caribbean. They flew me to Australia and I filmed the movie so that when the movie dropped, they would have someone from within the community saying like, Hey, you guys should see this movie.
(00:31:01) Not that Pirates of the Caribbean needs marketing. But it certainly grounds it, right? It doesn’t, it removes that sort of separation from big company and everyday Joe, which the pirates franchise was sort of doing. They wanted to to to re-root it, uh, in the community of Disney fans. So they had me go on that trip. And that’s sort of what began that, that trend of me working with companies. As the marketing sphere changed around the whole social media followers thing, so did the opportunities, and then suddenly I found myself in a position uniquely positioned to take advantage of those things. So it was a slow grind and then you make a contact, you follow up, you get a lunch, you come up with a pitch deck. Maybe you could come up some ideas and you share it and they want to work on it.
(00:31:42) And they say, yeah, let’s do that. Or sometimes it just hits you up out of the blue because your SEO is optimized to certain brands. And they know that I talk about Disney and that I talk about Comic-Con. So that works with Marvel and DC and ABC and all these shows that are promoting this geek culture content. And I come up under that vertical. So yeah, that’s how those opportunities sort of end up on your plate. By proliferating your own presence and content you end up on the radar of these other companies and if your work is quality, then of course they’re going to want to work with you to advance their own messaging.
Ashley: Right, exactly. Because people are so quick now to just ignore an ad that’s in front of their face. We see a million of them a day, but when that message is presented by someone who we like and we trust and we think is cool, of course we’re going to listen to it, and then that’s when messages spread like wildfire. And why wouldn’t Disney want to do that?
Leo: You follow me because you want to, right? Disney or any other company that does a sponsored ad or whatever, a paid ad on Facebook, is literally forcing themselves onto your feet. Immediate disconnection. Right? Yet you’re still gonna absorb it through osmosis and that’s the point. And it still works, but it’s not nearly as direct. Also, it’s not as demographically positioned either. Think about a commercial for the Super Bowl. Everybody watches, it’s the most watched thing on television, right? So yes, your exposure is massive if you have a Super Bowl commercial, but how many people watching the Super Bowl are likely to buy your particular product? It’s true that they’re becoming aware of it and that has its own intrinsic value, but does that mean they’re going to act on it? Also, they’re getting bombarded that day with things. You’re, you’re mixing the messaging, like you’re going to get a commercial with Tide right next to a commercial with Doritos, they have nothing to do with each other. But on my feed, if you advertise Disney, you know that 124,000 people that also like Disney are watching it, right? You’re feeding it directly to the people that are going to participate in that product. You’re not missing a single beat. And that’s the point. That’s why it’s so effective. And that is why influence marketing is what it is now.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. And that brings me to a point that I wanted to cover here and that when I was growing up as a young adult, I would get so excited when I would find something Disney or character branded that wasn’t marketed towards kids. I don’t know if you, I don’t know if you remember those days, but it’s like, oh wow, a tee shirt that’s like for adults that has Disney characters on it and now there’s just endless products geared towards people our age, which is amazing!
Leo: We were those kids, by the way. We were the kids that they only made things for kids for. But that’s actually something I hear a lot is people are like, wasn’t Disney for kids, dude. I’m like, Disney’s for every, first of all, nothing is for kids. Nothing is for boys, nothing is for girls. That’s all made up… Like anything can be for anybody, It’s all how you enjoy it.
Ashley: And so now with like influencer marketing being the huge thing that it is, it’s just such a blessing to people like me and you who love character related things because now there are all of these products being created and…
Leo: We’re making it for ourselves, basically.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. Did you ever think that this would be your life today? Like thinking back growing up like, oh yeah, I’m going to be a Disney influencer when I grow up.
(00:35:01) DID YOU EVER THINK THIS WOULD BE YOUR LIFE?
Leo: No, not even a little tiny eensy weensy bit, like this is a series of circumstances that I just sort of followed. Like it’s very Alice in Wonderland. Like, oh I guess I’ll go down this tunnel. All right. I guess I go over here and I just ended up in this wacky world. No, no. As a kid I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted it to be creative, but I didn’t think that was like, like full creativity was too unrealistic and that’s sort of why I ended up in, I kind of was trying to end up in marketing because I was like, well, at least I can help come up with ideas and, and ideation is my favorite part of all of it. So I was like, oh, that’s something I could apply myself to. Cause at first it was like architecture because I can use art.
(00:35:39) And I was like, no, that’s more math. Nevermind. And then it was like, well, I’m in human resources, maybe I can, no, this sucks. Um, you know, like I didn’t know. And so I went to school for graphic design because I figured I could get a job with graphic design at some company and at least have an artistic outlet. I didn’t know to what capacity, I didn’t know how was going to apply it, but I felt like it was a good base skill to have and then figure it out from there. I was very directionless and I took jobs that just, that worked. Like they paid me well and I was good at them and I could, I could tolerate them, so to speak. And then this stuff happened and then I was like, oh wow, this is crazy. It’s weird because all the things that I did, all my free time ended up becoming what I do for a living.
(00:36:19) But that was never the plan and it’s, and I talked to my parents about it all the time because I have such distinct memories of them just thinking I was so weird and just letting me go with it. Like they let… that was the other thing is that I have immense support from my family. All of the nerdy stuff, I was never shunned for it. They, as a matter of fact, they went out of their way to make sure that it could happen, right. That I could, that I could do what I wanted, that I could be happy and just like try things out. My family, they’re from Cuba. They’re immigrants. Um, so I’m First Gen and they wanted me to have the dream life that they never could and I am eternally grateful for that. If I wanted to play baseball, I played baseball, if I wanted to try karate, and then I hated it because I got punched, I’m out of karate, like they didn’t mind. They let me explore my options because they wanted me to never be at a lack of understanding
Ashley: Yeah, else are you supposed to figure out what you like?
(00:37:09) COSPLAYING JACK SPARROW AT REN FAIR & WALKING THE RED CARPET AT PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN
Leo: Yeah, exactly. And they weren’t going to force me to do anything either. They wanted me to do things because I genuinely enjoyed them. Except gymnastics, that was too expensive. I always wanted to do gymnastics. Anyway, but I remember like distinctly remember, um, when I did the Jack Sparrow, actually when I did the full movie version, I remember coming down the stairs for the Renaissance Fair and my parents were facing the TV and I’m coming down jingling with all of my dangly bits. Uh, that’s not sexual by the way. He literally has dangly bits from his hair and his belt. Um, but I remember my, my, I remember my dad turning around and just looking at me and being like, so that’s what it is, huh?
(00:37:50) I’m like, yeah, I’m going to the Ren Fair. And there was just like this moment where I just like, I had never felt so different from my parents in my entire life, but they were like, alright, have fun. We’ll see you later. And fast forward now, like I, one of the coolest, like pinnacles of my career has been taking my mom to the red carpet of Pirates of the Caribbean and you know, we’re all dressed up and we’re walking on the red carpet and there’s Johnny Depp right there, right. My mom growing up and in her youth was like, oh, Johnny Depp, the movie star, he’s a handsome man and 21 Jump Street and he’s standing five feet in front of her and he looks at my mom and he gives it a little wink and my mom is just like taken aback and he walks off and then my mom starts crying and I’m like, what’s up mom, like you okay?
(00:38:37) She’s like, I just never thought growing up as a little girl in Cuba on a farm that I would end up on the red carpet of a Hollywood movie. And I was just like, yeah, oh my God, are you kidding me? Talk about putting things into perspective. It was like this full circle moment where I realized that because they had given me all these opportunities that they never had, it led to her having an opportunity that she could only dream of. And I am a full believer in a rising tide floats all boats. Right? Like pay people back for what they do to help you because nobody makes it alone. Right. Your success is on the backs of so many people that supported you, that believed in you, that helped you. I mean, I wouldn’t have these opportunities if people didn’t follow me on Instagram. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t, I don’t have it because I’m just the most charismatic, talented guy in the world. I have it because people support me and I’m aware of that. And the people that supported me most just happened to be my parents. So yeah, it’s uh, something you never think will happen, but approach it with positivity and hardwork, you know, you can have whatever you want…Within reason!
Ashley: Right, right! A friend that I had interviewed a while back, her name is Codie Sanchez, and she had given me the advice of like whatever you want to do, just be obsessed with it. And I think that that rings true kind of with what you just described. Like no matter what you’re into, no matter what you want to do in life, you have to be fully committed and give everything.
Leo: You’re right. Like I was obsessed, I was obsessed with all of these things, and then I just decided to be obsessed publicly. That’s the only thing that changed. Because we’re all obsessed with something, like we’re all into something. We know a lot about something, right? It’s, it’s just about learning how to effectively articulate your thoughts on that something. For me it happened to be Disney and geek culture, but for some people it’s cars. For some people it’s working out, for some people at sports, whatever it is. I mean, beauty and fashion is another huge one. And there are people on Youtube that talk about it, right? And some of those people become so good at their craft that they end up getting a TV show or whatever it might be. They end up hosting for the company themselves. I get to work with Disney now and how crazy that Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars, the other two things that I grew up loving, like I’m just coming up Milhouse left and right, like all these lucky opportunities for me. But I was already into it. It’s not like I had to learn about Disney to make Disney content. I was just like, oh, I already, I already got that in the bag. Let’s just put it on Youtube and here we are.
Ashley: Right! And so now is this what you do full time or do you also still work like a “typical job?”
Leo: It is what I do full time now, but it’s, it’s kind of, it’s a hard thing to define. I don’t have a nine to five, for the last three years, I haven’t had a day job. But from time to time I’ll go in as a consultant. I haven’t done that in about a year and a half, but like a company, companies will hire me as a consultant to come in and like help with content strategy, especially if like it’s aligned with the kind of things that I do. And I really like being part of teams. I’m not like, I’m not a solo act. I’ve never liked that. I always say I’d rather be the Vice President than the President because I want to help other people fulfill their dreams as opposed to have any of my own.
Because like I get real enjoyment out of collaboration. Like that’s why I do this because I love acting with other actors. I love hosting about these rare niches in the world and talking to people about their ideas on them. I like Disney because Disneyland is full of people who also share that passion. Right. And so where was I going with this? What was it…?
Ashley: Uh, full time job?
Leo: Oh, full time job, yeah! So yeah, got so lost in my fantasy world. But like, even now I still think about it. I’m like, well, like what am I doing? Right? Like what is the long term here? Because yes, I get opportunities to act, but I’m not a career actor. I don’t make enough to supplement my living through acting alone. Am I a host? Well, I’d like to be, but I don’t have a show so I gotta pitch a show, but I’ve got to make money while I do that.
Leo: So I’m going to do a brand deal, but I’m not going to do brand deals forever like that can’t possibly last. And social media is fleeting and so is…okay. So, so, so like it’s sort of a combination of many things. So I’ve worked full time, I’m always working, but it’s not like I’m sitting behind an excel spreadsheet all day. So you know, it’s just like your, it’s how you define what work is. But even now, I entertain the idea, if like if the right company came to me and said, we want you to do what you do but in-house for us, but you don’t have to stop doing it outside. I would possibly consider it just because I like it. I like working. I like being part of collaborative environment so I never rule anything out. And also the other end, like if I needed the money, if none of this was working out and I needed to get a job at McDonald’s, I would do whatever it took to sustain myself so that I can keep pursuing my dream. Like no job is beneath anybody.
Ashley: Right. And that’s, that’s the wonderful thing. It’s like if anything went south, you have the opportunity to jump into a regular nine to five job if need be and continue all of this on the side. You know, it’s, it’s the wonderful thing about the world we live in now.
Leo: Yeah. But the nice thing is, is like all of this other stuff definitely makes you appealing to specific kinds of companies. So like, yeah, it’s not likely that I’ll get like super entry level because I’ve been doing this for so long but I, but I would, right? And like I can take all of these things that I’ve learned and all these things that I do and format it in a way that’s appealing to a more traditional work environment. Like I don’t, I don’t want to promote the idea that it’s so separate and so different that if you decide to be an actor and it doesn’t work out for you, that all hope is lost. Like certainly it is a different skill set, but there are ways to translate the things that you learn into public relations, into interpersonal communication. Like there’s definitely an aspect of it that can be, that can be brought back to a resume, so to speak. So like the struggle is real, don’t get me wrong, it’s hard, but it’s never a waste.
Ashley: Yeah, definitely. All experiences are good for something. You just don’t know what those might be in the future.
Leo: Exactly. You don’t know until they happen. But a lot of people are scared to take that leap is my point. Right? Like they’re not even going to pursue it because too scared that will lead to a dead end. And sure, maybe you won’t make it as an actor, but you never know. Maybe you’ll learn that like, oh, I’m actually a pretty good producer and I like working with actors and I’m still working on these creative projects. But you’ll never discover that unless you go out there. I mean, failure is the tuition to success, right? You have to have these experiences that shape your direction.
(00:44:51) 2019 DISNEY LIVE ACTION FILMS & DISNEY FAVORITES LIGHTNING ROUND
Ashley: Yeah, totally. Alright – we’re moving on to a little bit of like fun stuff now! Like fun Disney stuff!
Leo: Oh, alright.
Ashley: To round out the episode. Okay, so first… Big question of the year. What Disney movie are you most looking forward to in 2019 because there’s a lot of them coming out and I know that you love Aladdin, so obviously you’re probably excited for that one, but are there any big ones coming out that you’re really excited for?
Leo: None of it. No, I’m just kidding. Can you imagine? No. Um, man, that’s uh, that is, uh, that is a tough, tough, tough, tough question. I’m looking forward to, honestly I think Mulan is my most anticipated.
Ashley: Oh yeah, I didn’t even throw that out there.
Leo: Yeah. I think Mulan is my number one and that’s a year from like a week ago. So like that’s coming up. I’m very much looking forward to Aladdin. I think that that will be interesting, a lot of fun. It is my favorite Disney movie. So it’ll be, I’m looking forward to it cause I just want to like, I want to see what they did. I’m looking forward to Avengers End Game cause it really is sort of the culmination of a decade of movies that I’ve been following passionately, I’m very invested in that. So that’ll be very, very cool. And also just the hype surrounding it. I love when movies get this sort of like just grand, just collaborative hype.
Ashley: Right. I, I preordered – oh, sorry – I preordered my tickets when they first came out and then I saw this past week that tickets are being sold on Ebay for like hundreds and thousands of dollars. I’m like what?!
Leo: Wouldn’t surprise me. Yeah. I’m, I’m, I’m supposed to see it, it’s crazy cause, I just got invited yesterday to the red carpet premiere to go as Dr. Strange, which is kind of funny, speaking of opportunities and red carpets and all that kind of thing, and cosplay – full circle. And then the next day I’m supposed to see it on the Disney lot. So like, so like it’s definitely consuming my life right now. Like it is all about End Game. I just did a, well I’m under NDA… Nevermind, can’t talk about that.
Leo: Yeah, next thing. Um, so that one definitely carries a lot of hype. I’m very, very, very, very, very curious about Star Wars because it is in such a weird spot right now. I mean it divided, The Last Jedi divided the community so abruptly. Right. So I’m curious to see what direction they go with in the movie. What is JJ going to do to close off this chapter? Because JJ Abrams, amazing at starting a story, terrible at finishing them. But I mean after Ryan Jackson, like what’s gonna happen? So, uh, or Ryan Johnson.
Ashley: And we’re going to wait until December to find that out!
Leo: So that’s still a ways away. But yeah, we’ll see. Especially because the Star Wars hype is becoming real again with Star Wars Land opening up. And I feel like it’s sort of a rollercoaster. It’s like, like the Force Awakens brought everybody back in and then Rogue One was like, alright. And then Solo was like, uh-uh. And then Last Jedi was like, wait a minute, what’s happening to Star Wars? And so Disney, you know put out a press release saying like we’re going to slow down on Star Wars, Sorry about that. So hopefully this sort of rejuvenates that passion, but it is the end of another trilogy. So then what’s going to happen afterwards? What does Netflix going to bring? Or excuse me, Disney+, cause it’s all going to be there now. Right? What does the new trilogy going to look like, are we done with the Skywalker’s? Like this movie will dictate the pace for all upcoming Star Wars content. So I’m very curious to see that. Uh, and, and more, more accurately what happens around that film.
Leo: I’m interested about the Lion King. Is it a shot for shot? Like how much are they going to deviate, you know?
Ashley: Yeah, cause that is such a classic, I mean cause you and I we’re the same age, and so I know that for us that was like a pivotal childhood memory.
Leo: It’s so much that I, here’s, here’s how I do this. So whenever I ask people, what’s your favorite Disney movie? I always tell them, you can’t pick the Lion King. It doesn’t count. And they’re like, why? Cause that’s always the default answer, especially to like non-hardcore Disney fans, they’re like, oh the Lion King. It’s not allowed because it is the culmination of everything that was learned through the Renaissance period of Disney. So like all animation techniques from the Little Mermaid to leading up to the Lion King, and learning that if you get AAA talent to voice the characters, the movie will be more successful. So prior to that, the only top tier talent that was ever cast in a Disney movie was Robin Williams as the Genie. And when they saw the success of that, they were like, oh, let’s make the whole cast star-studded!
You had this sort of, uh, all of the artists working at their peak. They were all like masters of their crafts at this point. And they had the budget of the studios because they were piggybacking off the success of the previous films. It was also during that transition when Eisner came back and like put all that effort back into animation and it was like this, it was like the golden sum of all of these other elements that made the Lion- …And the story’s based on Hamlet. Like it’s already been written by Shakespeare. It’s already a timeless classic. Like you don’t even have to guess if it will be good. So like that movie doesn’t count because it’s too good.
Ashley: Yeah. It’s just a given.
Leo: It’s just a given! But now we’re going to get it again. What? Like what is this going to be like? How are people gonna react?
Ashley: It makes me a little nervous but I think that this one is going to be really well done.
Leo: I think so too.
Ashley: I’m also excited to see what they’re doing with Toy Story 4. I actually haven’t watched a whole lot of like any teaser trailer..
Leo: Did you see the trailer?
Ashley: I’m trying to remember if I watched the trailer. I did, I did.
Leo: Ooh, what does that mean?
Ashley: Well the trailer came out though, didn’t it come out like over a year ago?
Leo: No, no, there’s a new trailer.
Ashley: Oh there’s a new trailer. Okay.
Leo: It actually tells you the story and get to see Bo Peep and everything.
Ashley: Oooh k, yeah I don’t think I’ve watched the newest one then.
Leo: Got to get on it.
Ashley: Yeah. Cause I, I do love the original Toy Story. I think that’s one of my favorites as well. I like two and three as well. But you know, the, the original is always going to be the best.
Leo: But that’s interesting to me that someone who’s such a hardcore Disney fan hasn’t seen the trailer to Toy Story 4, you know what I mean? Not, not, not that’s not, that’s not a neg on you. Like that’s just the state of the brand. You know what I mean? There’s so much, there’s so much.
Ashley: Yeah, I think it is, just like bombarded. Yeah. Because not to say that I don’t want to see it. I totally do.
Leo: By the way, yes. I know it’s Pixar, everyone out there going, that’s not Disney! They’re one in the same.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. Okay, cool. So pretty much excited for all of them then.
Leo: I’m excited, but like the movie that I want to see the most is Mulan, the movies that I’m excited to happen are Star Wars, Lion King, and um, Avengers. And Aladdin. Whatever – I’m a fan!
Ashley: Yes! Okay, so now we’re moving into a Disney lightning round. I’m gonna throw out some questions and first answer that comes to mind for you. We may have already covered some of these maybe. Okay.
Leo: Well probably with the amount that I talk, it’s highly possible.
Ashley: Ok, we’ll go ahead and get started, Okay. Favorite animated movie, 1999 or earlier?
Leo: 1999 or earlier, Aladdin.
Ashley: Okay. Favorite animated movie, 2000s or newer?
Leo: Oh, oh, oh, Spiderverse.
Ashley: Spiderverse, oh, interesting. Not what I expected.
Leo: I think Spiderverse is the best animation made in the last decade, easy, easy. Stylistically, storywise, script, acting, all of it. All of it is amazing. I’m also a huge comic book guy, so like I love Spiderman, and this is the best Spiderman thing ever, honestly, in my opinion.
Ashley: And there’ve been a lot of Spiderman things, so that’s saying a lot, right?
Leo: Yeah. Spiderman. I know that’s unexpected, especially because it’s so new, but that’s how deeply it impacted me. But if I had to go with Disney cause everybody wants to know it’s Tangled.
Ashley: Okay, that’s a good one. Favorite animated character?
Leo: Phew, girl!
Ashley: I know there’s a lot to choose from.
Leo: First that comes to mind is Darkwing Duck maybe?
Leo: Yeah, I also like, ah, there’s so many! It’s too hard. But I’ll stick with him.
Ashley: Best live action Disney film?
Leo: Pirates of the Caribbean 1.
Ashley: Oh yeah.
Leo: Without a doubt.
Ashley: Favorite Pixar film? Now, now we’re going to differentiate, Okay?
Leo: I think I’m gonna go with Incredibles.
Ashley: Okay. Dream Disney movie crossover. If you could pick like two Disney movie worlds to combine.
Leo: Isn’t that what Wreck-it Ralph did?
Ashley: Oh true, okay.
Leo: No, no if I can combine 2. Oh man, that’s a crazy question. Well, I want, Ooh, Jesus. It’s tough because I was like, I want to pick something, I want to pick like two magical adventure type movies. You know what I mean? Like, like it would be cool if like, um, like if Aladdin got to go to like, you know, Hercules like something. I dunno, man…that’s really, that’s really, really, really hard. Um…
Ashley: Yeah, that’s kind of one that you can’t be put on the spot for.
Leo: Yeah, how dare you, how dare you. I have to write a Tumblr fan fiction about this very subject now. Thanks a lot.
Ashley: Okay, well we’ll, we’ll put that one on hold maybe in the back of your mind, keep thinking about it. Okay. Favorite ride at Disneyland
Leo: Haunted Mansion.
Leo: Pandora A flight of passage, uh, in Avatarland or Pandora or Avatarland…You know what I mean!
Ashley: I haven’t been there yet. I haven’t been there since they added that I really want to go.
Leo: One of the best enveloping experiences you will ever have ever at a theme park! It is amazing. You get depressed when you get off the ride because you’re back in the real world and it’s not as good.
Ashley: Oh well I can’t wait. I am hopefully going next year cause I need to see that. Um, let’s see. Favorite Disney park.
Leo: It is a tie between Tokyo Disney Sea and uh, Animal Kingdom. Those are my 2 favorites.
Ashley: Oh, ok! First time you ever went to a Disney park, how old were you?
Leo: I was but a boy. My family has been taking me to Disney since I was a little kid. So probably even before I can remember. Yeah. But it was definitely Disneyland and I was like maybe four or five.
Ashley: I went when I was still in the womb. So I like to say that I was there before I was even born.
Leo: Doesn’t qualify. You had a barrier.
Ashley: True! Dream Disney movie role? Like if you could play a character, would you play Prince Eric, would you play Aladdin, or would you like to play someone else?
Leo: Aladdin, Aladdin, yeah, I guess that’s the dream honestly. Um, but like let’s say let’s, let’s say it’s like a sequel or, or something coming out now, right? Cause I’m not gonna, I can’t get Aladdin now. It’s Mena Massoud. So like I would love to be in like, like my dream is that Disney releases that they follow up Tron Legacy and they, they use the Marvel formula for Tron, and they turn that franchise around. Cause I believe that the first 35 minutes of that movie are amazing and the rest of it falls off. And Tomorrowland ruined Sci-fi for Disney. But I hope that they decide to go back to a Tron movie and I hope it’d be awesome to be in it. Now if they make the live action Little Mermaid movie, I don’t want to be Prince Eric, but I would like love to be like one of his like, like attendants, like for the nod from Disney. Or like a Merman like in the Atlantic or something like that. Something silly. But honestly more than that I want to be a voice actor. So like I think it would be really cool to voice a Disney character.
Or, or this is a really super duper weird one. You know when you go on a Disney ride and then it’s like a screen and there’s always some weird like nerd guy explaining the premise of the ride and like adding story context to it. Like Flight of Passage, it’s a scientist and he’s telling you all about the necrons and, and Pandora, and flora and fauna and introducing you to the science campaign that they’re doing and why you’re doing it. Like I want to be that guy that’s like, hey guys, welcome to the uh, Pandora Expedition Program. I’m Leo and I’m a tech here at, but you know, like I want to be like that guy or like Patrick Warburton on Soarin’, when he’s like, ‘nice work pal, buckle up and make sure you use these seat belts.’ Like, like I want to be in one of those videos.
Ashley: There we go. Hey, maybe that’ll come true one day.
Leo: Well, the closest I got was I did an educational campaign for Big Hero 6, a S.T.E.A.M. education – science, technology, engineering, arts and math. And um, and they played, I was the host of the video. So it was like, are you full of big ideas? Are you a thinker? Well, Big Hero 6 wants you to come up with a way that we can make the world better, blah, blah, blah. I made one of those videos and they had me playing in Innoventions for three months and that was so cool. Like that was like the coolest thing ever because I felt like I was part of like Disney history even for a brief moment.
Ashley: Yeah. I mean that’s going to live on forever, so…
Leo: Ah, no it’s already over.
Leo: No one will remember this, well I remember.
Ashley: Okay. Um, where were we? Oh, favorite princess.
Leo: Ooh, Poca- Pocahontas, I think. Yes, Pocahontas.
Ashley: Okay. That’s another surprising one to me. All right. Most underrated Disney movie?
Leo: Underrated Disney movie definitely goes to, in my opinion, Tarzan and, oh no… Well it’s three. It’s Tarzan, Brother Bear, and Big Hero 6.
Ashley: I love Big Hero 6.
Leo: Yeah, I think Big Hero 6 is way better than people give it credit for, but it is a little bit too kiddie, and the story feels a little light. But I think it’s a really amazing world and I hope they continue to develop it. I think Tarzan is stunning and Phil Collins kills it on the soundtrack, but nobody really talks about Tarzan very much. And I think Brother Bear, although the story is kind of boring for the most part, I think it is the, the most beautifully animated Disney movie of all time.
Ashley: That one I can’t speak much to because I haven’t seen it since I was a kid. So I guess I’m going to have to go back and watch it as an adult now and take in, you know, the, the animation.
Leo: Watch it, watch it for what it is, cause what was it, like 11 years like studying Yosemite National Park, and like really understanding the movement of bears and, and like, uh, I believe his name’s Aaron Blaise, he’s the artist who like led that and his understanding of animal anatomy and how it was applied to that movie is truly, truly, truly spectacular. But the movie’s just kind of like mediocre, like nobody… And also Phil Collins, by the way, Phil Collins did that one as well. Oh, he did the entire soundtrack for that. Um, and they use the song and it Disney parade for years and nobody even knew what it was from. It’s like ‘welcome to our family time.’ You remember that song?
Ashley: Yeah, that sounds familiar.
Leo: That’s from Brother Bear! But like nobody knows that. ‘This a festival, you know’, you know what I mean?
Ashley: Wow, the more you know! Okay, let’s see…Disney pet that you’d want to have. So like any animal…
Leo: Abu, 100%. A little monkey, that like steals apples for me.
Ashley: Yeah! I also love Meeko.
Leo: Oh, Meeko’s my number two!! At one time, Meeko was my favorite Disney character, but then I switched.
Ashley: I love, like squirrels and raccoons. So he’s just perfect.
Leo: Well, raccoons are, first of all, my spirit animal and I love raccoons. I have raccoon stuff everywhere. And, uh, no, no joke. I love raccoons, but I’m going to tell you a little secret here. I don’t think I’ve ever said this on a podcast before or ever, but, uh, you know, in Sword in the Stone, when Merlin is turning them into animals? And then they become squirrels. And then that girl squirrel like, has a crush on squirt. Ugh, squirt…On Wart. Yeah, that girl squirrel… I totally had a crush on her. I was like, I was like, I want someone to love me like this squirrel loves Wart.
Ashley: First crush, huh?
Leo: Well, I would say the first one went to Maid Marian, but she was definitely in the top three for sure. And Nala. What’s with me and animals?
Ashley: She was a very flirty squirrel, I mean…
Leo: She was! And she was so forward and I loved that. I was like, look, that’s a girl knows what she wants. I’m about it.
Ashley: Oh, that’s great. Um, let’s see. Favorite food at Disneyland?
Ashley: Yum! Worst worst food at Disney? Because we know there’s some out there.
Leo: Whoa. What is the worst? What is my least favorite food at Disneyland? I don’t know. I don’t know if I have a, a real answer to this, cause I like, I kind of, I’m the kind of person that orders what they like.
Ashley: Yeah, so you’re not like out there ordering like…
Leo: Yeah, I mean, but I do try a lot of random stuff. Like when I did the Food and Wine Festival, I didn’t like everything that I tried, but like I can’t remember the things that I didn’t, you know what I mean? Like I kinda…Hmm. I guess if I have to have an answer, man, well you really stumped me on this one. I’m trying to think like if there’s something where I’m like, oh, I’m not going to get this again.
Ashley: Well I know for me I, not that it’s bad, but you know, the big soft pretzels like Mickey-shaped pretzels. They’re… I always feel like it, I think that it’s going to taste betterthan it actually does.
Leo: You know what’s funny, we’ll still have bought it multiple times though.
Ashley: Yeah. Like you get it and it’s cute and you’re like, Oh yeah, I love this, pretzel and cheese. And then it’s like, mmm, that’s a lot of bread.
Leo: Yeah. Maybe I’ll go with the pre-…That’s a good answer. I’ll go with the pretzel.
Ashley: There you go. Um, okay. First Disney movie, you remember seeing as a kid?
Leo: Uh, Robin Hood for sure.
Ashley: And that’s, I mean, you wanted to be…
Leo: Yeah. Those are like my two movies and then like, which for a brief amount of time and then like Oliver and Company, and Little Mermaid came out and I was just like, oh, those are what’s up.
Ashley: Yeah. I think my first Disney movie I remember, well the first one I went to in a theater was Hunchback of Notre Dome.
Leo: Oh Wow. Okay.
Ashley: But not, not the first one I ever saw. Just the first one I experienced in a theater.
Leo: In a theater, yeah, I think mine was a Little Mermaid for sure.
Ashley: Okay. Um, any Disney secrets or like lesser known facts that you can share? Off the top of your head…
Leo: Off the top of my dome? So I know that in Disneyworld is this sort of like a hidden Mickey type of situation, but it’s a hidden Oswald. In Disneyworld, in the Magic Kingdom, it’s like somewhere in front of the Beauty and the Beast dining, I forget what that’s called… Be Our Guest. Out there where there’s like a sign, there’s like a, there’s like a crossroads and then there’s like a sign that tells you which things are in which directions. In that intersection around there in pebbles planted in this, in this, in the concrete, the pebbles make a hidden Oswald, the lucky rabbit. And that’s one of my favorite things because it’s so understated. It’s so small and it, but it’s definitely on purpose and I always thought that was just like a really a really cool one. I also like in Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow, if you look at his artwork, he only has…or, no, not Jack Sparrow is it? I don’t know. It’s Barbosa. Barbosa only has three fingers for some reason they only drew him with three fingers. But if you look at the artwork, like you wouldn’t think to look that deeply, but look at his hand and he looks, just looks, he’s got three little sausage fingers. He doesn’t have a full hand, and it’s very weird. It’s because it’s Disney, you know…
Ashley: Is that at -world and -land?
Leo: It’s just at -land, that I know of, but I don’t… like I feel like there has to be some sort of like secret behind that. Like why did they do that? Cause it’s very, it’s very on purpose. Like you can tell it’s not a perspective thing. They just didn’t draw all the fingers. So, I’m still working on that. The case is still open on that.
Ashley: Yeah. Interesting. Well I’m gonna have to look out for both of those when I return to the parks.
Leo: Well, one is Orlando, one is in Disneyland. So depending on which one you go to, you can look for those.
Ashley: Well, I’m going to California this summer, so…
Leo: Ok, Pirates of the Carribean it is.
Ashley: Yeah, I’ll check that one first. What is your favorite time of the year to visit the parks?
Leo: Oof, that is a really good question. I love, I love fall at Disneyland, but I like the transition into the Christmas time as well. I like… There’s something magical in the air around that time, just in general. And I feel like Disneyland just heightens that feeling times a thousand, like the decorations, the Christmas lights, the music, the snow, because California doesn’t snow here, but they make it snow, right? Like there’s something magical, magical about that effort. Also like the warmer clothes and just like, it’s like a cozy or time of year. So I would say like that, that transition from, from fall to winter maybe.
Ashley: Yeah. And I, I kind of like the parks when it is cooler, like you’re saying, it’s not like sticky hot and all of that.
Leo: And also like my favorite, my favorite sort of visual at Disneyland is as the sun is setting in Tomorrowland, looking at the neon Mickey, uh, above the Star Trader. Like that, to me that just sort of embodies like my memory of Disneyland, like my nostalgia towards the park. And there’s something about like that cooler fall weather that sort of like the summer’s ending and like, you know, like it just, it’s like that childhood feeling that just encapsulates in that moment. So yeah.
Ashley: Alright. Best Disney movie song. And I know you’re going to have a lot of trouble with this one.
Leo: You know what, but this one I’ve thought about before and it, it definitely is, there’s sort of a tie here cause I think A Whole New World is just so iconic. But Go the Distance from Hercules I think is a beautiful song. But I think Be Our Guest is one of the best written songs ever, ever. So like those are maybe my, those are probably my top three. Although the Moana soundtrack is no joke.
Ashley: It is good. But I highly, highly prefer all of the older Disney soundtracks to the newer ones.
Leo: Yeah, the renaissance, um, oh my gosh, I’m totally blanking…the composer, he did all of this, oh my gosh… I’ve seen him perform, umm..
Ashley: Alan Menken?
Leo: Alan Menken! Thank you! Yeah, I mean the guy is magic.
Ashley: Yeah. My absolute favorite Disney song is Part of your World.
Leo: Okay. That’s up there. That’s one of them too.
Ashley: When you said, when you said, um, what was the first one you said?
Leo: Whole New World.
Ashley: Yeah. So when you said that, I was thinking, oh, me too. But then I realized, wait, no that’s Aladdin.
Leo: I would argue that a Whole New World and Part of your World are the most iconic Disney songs. Period. That and maybe like the opening to Lion King, the ‘Nants, ingonyama…’that’s the only part anybody ever like says. So Part of your World and Whole New World. All the world songs.
Ashley: Yeah, All right. And to leave us with a warm, cuddly feeling, what’s your favorite memory at the park?
Leo: Man… Well, that the situation described is definitely my, my best, my favorite feeling. My favorite memory, in general. I always tell this story, I’ll tell it again because I like it. When I was a kid, we went to Disneyland and I remember the Sheriff of Nottingham being out and my family went to go take a picture with him. And jokingly, obviously he took my grandma’s purse, like Oh, money, you know? And as a child, I didn’t know he was fake. He’s not fake, sorry, I didn’t know that the THEFT was fake. Like he’s at Disneyland. It’s not really gonna steal anything from, you know, he’s legally obligated not to steal your purse, but,
but as a kid I didn’t know that and I was like, so I remember being so upset, like so moved and I grabbed my dad, I’m like, Dad, he took Tita’s purse. Like we got to get it back and he’s like, it’s okay to take a picture and there’s a picture, we have a picture and the purse is like blurry cause he’s like, the sheriff is moving it. My Dad is laughing, I am, I look, I’m just like, just mean doggin him. And I’m just looking at him like, oh I’m gonna get you as soon as this picture is over. And like I know that’s not like a happy memory, but it’s my favorite memory because to me in that moment it was all absolutely real. And that to me is the essence of Disneyland, right? Like creating a space for a world that isn’t like ours, but that you can fully dive into. It is escapism at its finest. And in that moment I believed and that’s what, that’s what Disney is. It makes you believe, so yeah.
Ashley: Yeah. The epitome of the feeling that you should have when you’re at the parks.
Leo: Exactly. Exactly. Immersion.
Ashley: Yeah, alright. Well, to wrap up the whole idea of living out your true passions, embracing the inner nerd like we started out with, for anyone out there that feels like they have to hide their true selves in order to fit in, do you have any last words of advice? I mean, as if this entire show wasn’t evidence enough. Anything else that you wanted to add to that point?
Leo: Yeah, yeah. Um, I understand the hesitation. I understand that it’s not just scary to speak out, but speak out on things that you maybe feel people won’t quite relate to or relate to it the way that you feel. But there’s, uh, some, something that was said to me that echoes in my mind all the time. Nobody makes fun of you for liking Harry Potter in school. They make fun of you for dressing up like a wizard and waving your wand in their face. It’s as soon as your passion interrupts someone else’s life. So my advice to anyone who wants to speak about these things but doesn’t quite know how is relate to people. Don’t just tell them how it is. Don’t, don’t show off, don’t, don’t go too meta too quickly. Think about approachability. Think about the core essence of the reason that you love these things and connect with people over that.
Leo: The rest of it is just a coating, right? It just happens to be Disney. It just happens to be Star Wars. But what do you like about Star Wars that makes you passionate about it? Help people understand the emotional aspect that that tethers you to those ideas, that makes it fun. Like Dungeons and Dragons is quote, unquote “nerdy” when people hear about it. But what’s not nerdy is hanging out with your friends and telling stories with each other and making each other laugh. That’s the core of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s just coated with pretending you’re an Elf and that you have a spreadsheet with all your weapons. Like, like that’s just, those are the things that make it happen. But that’s not the part that makes it real. And when going forward in the world, like don’t be ashamed of your passions.
Leo: Just realize that other people may not have the same experience with it that you do. Uh, and be aware of that sort thing. And that’s where the disconnection I think comes in. But know that everybody has a desire to be happy and have fun and everybody has something that they’re passionate about and that they love just like you. And that’s where the community aspect comes in, is connecting over mutual interests in and having fun together. So never be ashamed. Always embrace who you are and just go for it. Don’t like know that inherently there is something there that people will relate to. And the more passion you speak about it with, the more likely they are to relate with you sooner, if that makes sense.
Ashley: Yeah, exactly. And I think something important to keep in mind is that you’re not the only one into whatever you’re into.
Leo: You’re never alone, you’re absolutely not alone.
Ashley: You just have to find those people.
Leo: Yeah, that’s right. And you’ll never find those people if you don’t speak out because they need to know you exist.
Ashley: Yup, exactly.
Leo: Come to Disneyland, come to conventions, come wherever, like go, be amongst us!
Ashley: Formal invitation right there!
Leo: Yes, I personally invite you to ride Haunted Mansion with me.
Ashley: Alright, well for anyone interested in learning and seeing more of your cosplay and hosting and acting and all of these cool pictures that you post, What are your social media handles?
Leo: Sure. Um hmm. I would say Instagram is probably the best you can follow me there @MrLeoZombie, which makes no sense, but I needed a username at the time. Um, and you can follow me on Twitter @LeoZombie, which is a nice way to have direct communication instead of getting lost in comments. Those are probably the best two. I’m also on Facebook, you know Leo Camacho and youtube, if you just Google that, like a bunch of stuff will come up, Thingavlogs and my channel, but I’m mostly active on Twitter and Instagram. So I would say follow me on Instagram, Mr Leo Zombie. Let’s keep it simple.
Ashley: Alright, perfect! Well thank you so much Leo. This was immensely fun. I had the time of my life speaking with you, and I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Leo: Thank you for having me. Honestly, I’m honored. This was super fun. You’re awesome.
Ashley: Thank you.
Ashley: Ah, I feel so energized and inspired after talking with Leo. And our conversation has me wanting to visit the Disney parks. Like right now. I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I did. I truly love to see when someone’s passion turns into a full fledged career and it was really amazing to hear about all of the opportunities that Leo was able to take advantage of because of his unique skillset, knowledge base, and hard work over the years. He’s a true talent and inspiration and equally as humble kind and wicked smart. For info on today’s show, head on over to adultstruggles.com/episode029, and just in case you aren’t already following Leo, I’ll have all his info linked there. And hey, if you enjoyed this episode, please tap subscribe and share this show with a friend. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week!
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