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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC sophomore and 'Insatiable' actor tells us about his life and acting career

Michael Perez
UNC sophomore Michael Perez is currently earning a degree in music with a focus in singing, while also pursuing an acting career. Perez played the role of Jon in the popular Netflix show, "Insatiable" starring Debby Ryan.

Sophomore Michael Perez got to meet his childhood crush and perform in a Netflix show through his role in "Insatiable." Perez played Jon, a computer geek and hacker, but here at UNC he studies vocal performance. Staff writer Krupa Kaneria talked to Perez about his role in "Insatiable" and his life outside of acting. 

The Daily Tar Heel: What do you like doing in your free time?

Michael Perez: I am a music major studying vocal performance. A lot of what I do in my free time is acting or singing. I am in the a cappella group Achordants, and that takes up a lot of my time. I am the business manager for that. 

I do a lot of acting classes. I try to do as much theater as I can. I enjoy Rubik's Cubes, and I enjoy playing chess. I enjoy video games and Super Smash Bros.

DTH: How long have you been acting?

MP: I have been acting pretty much since I came out of the womb — like “Ta da!” I have been interested in performing ever since I was little. I was always dressing up and getting into character, putting on little shows. 

I started acting professionally when I was about seven years old. That’s when I did my first professional show, which was "The Music Man," and I played Winthrop. That’s when I got my agent, and I have been doing it ever since and have really loved it.

DTH: What has been your favorite or most interesting role that you have played?

MP: That’s a hard question. I like to think that with each role, there has been something fun to do. One role that stands out is playing Lysander in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” That one was fun because I really enjoy Shakespeare and the language was really interesting. The story is so complicated so the language is very dense and rich.

DTH: What character did you play on the show “Insatiable?”

MP: The character’s name is Jon, but I don’t think it’s ever really said in the show. I was in a couple of episodes. I played a computer geek who the main character, played by Debby Ryan, comes to in order to try and get me and two other guys to hack into this girl’s phone to see what she said about her and to figure out who started a rumor about her. We tried to use that to get a date with Debby Ryan’s character. 

We did a lot of improv with that, and the director and producers really liked our characters and thought we were funny, so they kept calling us back later on in the season. At one point when Patty, Debby Ryan’s character, gets famous at her high school, we go up to her and thank her for getting rid of a bully. 

There is one other scene that I did by myself where Patty tries to redeem herself. She invites me to her birthday party, and I say something snarky in response, and then she insults me and then I walk out. 

DTH: How did it feel being on set with Debby Ryan?

MP: She was my childhood crush, so I was sweating a little bit when I met her. She was really cool and nice. I got to spend a little bit of time with her because a big part of filming is sitting around and waiting to shoot a scene, so we spent some time talking and getting to know other people. 

Every day that I was there, I got to sit down with her and have conversations. She gave me a nickname: Lil’ Runs. She called me that because I like to do little runs while I sing. She’s so funny and a really chill person with lots of cool stories. 

DTH: Are you going to be acting in anything in the near future?

MP: I am going to be playing Billy, one of the leads, in Company Carolina’s production of “Bright Star.” Right now, I’m focusing more on training for acting and singing, and the work comes when it comes.

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