Julio Macias Talks Netflix's 'On My Block,' Not Being Typecast, and Showing Range as an Actor (Exclusive)

On My Block is returning to Netflix for its fourth and final season. The fourth season will chronicle the East LA crew as their friendships are tested while they try and navigate the final year of high school and transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Many changes have occurred since fans last saw the crew.

The popular Netflix series premiered in 2018 and follows a quartet of friends balancing life and high school. Throughout the series, fans have been on an emotional roller coaster of triumph and tragedy. When season 3 ended, Oscar, played by Julio Macias, was trying to transition out of gang life. This season, Macias tells Popculture.com that viewers will see whether Oscar deserves a second chance. 

The show has proven to be a breakout role for Macias, who has since gone on to star in the Selena series, also on Netflix. Macias also reflects on his time on the show, choosing his roles carefully, and what he's working on next. 

PC: How excited are you for the fourth season of On My Block

JM: I'm pretty pumped. It's you know, it's been five years now, in the making I'm excited to see where for people to see where everybody lands. 

PC: Season 4 starts off two years after where season three ended, which is a pretty big gap. At the end of season 3, you and Cesar were pretty much trading places. He was the leader of the Santo's. You were living a domestic life with your girlfriend and entering into fatherhood. Without giving too much into what Season 4 will delve into, can you give fans an idea of what the relationship dynamics are within the group? 

JM: Everyone says the real ones are the ones that stick with you from day one. But that group changes and that group evolves. And sometimes the people that you thought were the closest to you and what was it like elementary school or middle school or whatever it be, all of a sudden you can end up feeling like you're strangers. So I personally really like where they left off. In the beginning of season 4, you still have residual emotions and feelings for what they have for each other. Oscar is more than being known as "Spooky" now. He's kind of trying to shed as much of that as possible. 

PC: I like the growth that it shows within the character Oscar the trajectory of his transition. It's not necessarily explored on television. Art imitates life and there are some who work their hardest to get out of that lifestyle. What are you excited for viewers to see as far as your character development this season? 

JM: I'm excited for people to see that exploration as well. There are reasons why some people get into the life: some out of necessity, some out of fear, others out of the sense of cultural duty. These groups were formed first and foremost for community protection. Whether they evolved into criminal and violent organizations or not. That's decades of it culminating. But at first it was a thing of 'The police aren't going to look after me in my community. So we have to police our own communities.' And that's kind of how it starts. And when you have that history, when it's sold to you that way, at least for certain people and definitely for someone like Oscar who lives by that code. And you see a lot of people that get out of life. And they say, 'Blood in, blood out.' But some people stay in and just move on with their lives and these organizations, these groups just sort of like, 'All right, well, you did your time, and now you go live your life or whatever it is.' Others stay affiliated and try to correct some things. For Oscar, I think it's very much that. He understands what he did in his time with the Santo's. But now he wants to live his own life. Does he deserve a second chance? We don't know. But he's definitely trying to earn it.

PC: People develop emotional connections to these characters. Obviously, the show isn't going to last forever. In your opinion, do you feel like viewers will be satisfied with the way the show ends?

JM: I think that some fans are going to be ecstatic about how we wrap it up and other fans are going to be like, 'Well, I would have done it differently.' As an active participant of the show, as an actor, I can only give truth to what's written on the page. And I trust that the writers who have done an amazing job in the first three seasons are going to wrap it up in the best way that they felt in their minds that these characters should, I think fans will be happy. I think we are ending on a strong note. The one thing that saddens me a little bit, not so much that I wish that our show would continue, but I wish that shows like ours would have longer shelf lives. I would like to see more shows where there isn't a quick end and we keep tackling these issues the way that we've been tackling it, and also with humor and entertainment.

PC: I'm happy that you brought that up because I believe the show has been very popular among viewers because it does fill a void within the specific demographic that it targets because of the content of the storyline within the show. What do you feel like On My Block has contributed to the culture?

JM: I tell my wife all the time that that that I'm so grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a role like Oscar, be who, you 10, 15, or 20 years from now is going to be a character that sticks with people. And that doesn't just apply to my character, but the show as a whole. The late 80s and early 90s shows were tackling these situations. But then even then, some people weren't really ready to fully embrace it. Now, we know that people are vibrant with this and we spread that word around the world. I think it's fantastic because now it's these shows that are because of how many people responded to On My Block that companies see similar shows are worth the investment. It should be more backing of Black and Brown stories. I'm super proud of my show but I'm more proud of the fans who really stood up for this show and said, 'We want more of this.'

PC: Initially going into the show, were you nervous about being typecast? 

JM: Absolutely. I think that was one of the biggest reasons why I did Selena right after this. It was to make sure that people knew that I was an actor and I was playing a character and that by no means what was I going to be the token Mexican. I remember when I auditioned for the show, it was this weird sense of what my parents told me growing up. And then what I believe to be true. My parents brought me and my sister here from Mexico to give us a better life, to get us away from everything that was going over there, but not necessarily to drop us into the problems and issues that were happening here in the United States. So they kind of shielded us from a lot of things and they wanted us to be better. So when I said that I wanted to be an actor, my mom was like, 'Please just don't play like a gangbanger, like play doctors or lawyers. We're educators. We're so much more than that, just stereotypes.' So for a very long time, I had that in my head. But then when I read the script and one specific scene with Oscar and Ceasar on the beach, it really attracted me. I was like, 'Yo, he's doing this for his brother,' and that led me through a spiral of reframing the way that I look at this story. I made my own educational inquiries. When I became curious about the culture and discovered that kind of movement in the United States, and I really delved into that and found out what was happening, I was sold. I was scared to be typecast, but I saw that this role gave me a chance to play something that wasn't just the thug in the background. 

PC: What is next for you? What other projects are you working on? 


JM: I'm going to be doing a little bit of voiceover work for an animated series again. My goal as an actor is to become a sort of a chameleon, someone who you just can't tie down to one certain thing. But whatever that thing is, whatever that thing that I'm doing, I'm doing it to the best of my ability. And I hope that people see that. 

Season 4 of On My Block is available on Netflix beginning Oct. 4.