Jason Rodriguez was born on August 15, 1972 in Spanish Harlem to the proud parents of Jose and Maria Rodriguez. He was raised in the Bronx and, as an only child, Jose and Maria made tremendous sacrifices to afford sending him to catholic school in order to avoid the perils children encounter in the urban jungle. Even though his mother suffered two failed kidney transplants and was on dialysis and diabetic, she wanted the best for her only son.
In 1988, at the age of 16, tragedy struck Jason as he was arrested for manslaughter. He was prosecuted and tried as an adult and sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison. While incarcerated Jason reflected on his failed life and swore that if he ever got a second he would make the most of it. He educated himself taking advantage of the vocational programs from the New York State Department of Corrections. Along the way, tragedy struck again twice more in his life when he lost both of his parents: His mother to a stroke in1996 and his father to a heart attack in 2002.
Even though he was a model inmate, he was denied parole five times and ended up serving seventeen years.
Released on July 1, 2005 at the age of 32, he was paroled to his aunt Patricia Rodriguez who believed in him after no one in his family would risk taking him in. At first Jason was concerned about his future since he had no prospects on how to go about getting someone to hire him so he could make a living. But he was a free man, and while he was in jail he had swore that once he got out he would do everything in his power to make something of himself. "When God created the world, he eliminated the word impossible," he used say to himself. "Nothing is impossible."
His passion and his zest for a new life led to a fortunate set of circumstances and he got the break he was looking for. Without formal acting experience, Director Gavin O'Conner cast him for a principal role in "Pride and Glory," along with Colin Farrel. Edward Norton, John Voight and John Ortiz. The moment he met Jason, O'Conner was impressed with his confident demeanor and the ambition in his eyes to reach his potential.
Jason has natural acting talent and he has found his calling in the movies, which he continues to pursue with unrelenting passion. Since his lucky break, he has engaged in other acting roles, as well as directing and producing. With no formal education, he continues to tap into his inner aspirations by designing his own website www.jrodaction.net and creating his blog www.jrodaction.blogspot.com. He is also sharing a documentary about his life on Ebru TV called "Soul Survivors."
Presently, he is venturing in a newly discovered talent, that of a motivational speaker, and he intends to visit schools and community organizations in order reach kids so he can share his insight on overcoming personal difficulties and achieving your dreams and aspirations. A book about his memoirs entitled "From Jail to Hollywood" is also in the works, which will describe his amazing turn around from hell and back after serving seventeen in prison.
When he got out of jail many people assumed he wouldn't get far, but Jason continues to defy the odds. He feels that he has enormous people skills and he attributes his triumph over adversity to that ability of his personality ÔÇôproving that street smarts can be an asset when use correctly.
Jason has not forgotten his roots and is willing to openly speak about his rough ride to success. Let's hope some people are willing to listen.
Jose-Gabriel Almeida is a children's book writer. He is the author of The Heart of the Scarecrow and the illustrated tale entiled, Hook and Jab. He is a personal friend of Jason Rodriguez. Email the author