California molded Diego Tinoco into the person he is today. The 24-year-old Latino actor was born in Anaheim, raised in Corona, and currently calls Los Angeles home. When he graduated high school, he moved to the City of Angels in hopes of making his acting dreams a reality. His plan worked—Tinoco booked his breakout role as Cesar Diaz in Netflix's On My Block a few months after relocating.
Starring in one of Netflix's buzziest series is the whirlwind you'd expect it to be. He now has millions of fans, a laundry list of projects he's been cast in, and numerous brand deals on the table. Tinoco is particularly excited about three endeavors: his new partnership with skincare brand Bubble, the launch of his clothing brand Sangre Mía, and the forthcoming release of his first Spanish-only film Las Cruces. A lot has been going on in his world over the last few years, but it's evident he's enjoying the journey.
Ahead, Tinoco opens up about how he's grown as an actor, why he's passionate about skincare, and how skateboarding has become a grounding ritual for him. Keep scrolling to get to know Diego Tinoco.
You've previously said a high school theater class opened your eyes to the possibilities of an acting career. Before that class, what were you thinking about doing professionally?
Before considering acting as a profession, I wanted to be a writer. I loved writing and reading fiction as a kid. I still haven’t given up on that dream. I’ll definitely have a few books and scripts coming down the line. I am currently working on something I’m very excited about and can’t wait to share.
At 18, you moved to L.A. to pursue your dreams. What was it like in those early days when you were hustling to land roles?
I was so excited and hungry to start moving the puzzle pieces in my life that would later lead to my acting career. At first, it was scary, but the ball started rolling, and the hustle took over. I remember I would work PostMates and my restaurant job during the day. I would also attend acting classes at night. I would rehearse scenes every weekend with classmates, force my roommate to read scenes with me, and study films as much as possible. It was difficult to attend auditions throughout the week and maintain my work schedule, but somehow, I made it work.
On My Block ended last year. How did the role of Cesar help you grow as an actor?
I learned so much on the set of On My Block playing Cesar. I’ll always look back on those days as my "college years." It's where I learned the fundamentals and developed my base to grow as an actor. I learned what worked on screen, what didn’t, and why. Through the role, I learned to trust myself as an artist, gained confidence in my creativity, and it left me even hungrier to take on more challenging roles. I also gained great insight as to how the creative, technical, and financial side of show business works through this journey.
The show became a major Netflix hit, and you have amassed a fanbase of nearly three million people. What has it been like navigating life in the spotlight?
It’s all been such an adventure for me. The show came out when I entered my 20s—one of the strangest times of any human being's life. I’m 24 now and truly don’t think I can say I’ve learned 100% how to manage the territory that comes with this bit of "fame."
I'd like to say it hasn’t affected me much, but that’d be a lie. Being put under any spotlight heightens reality a little bit and changes the way people view you as a person. Many people try to gain something from you. You have to learn who you are as a person and what you want out of your life so you don’t get misguided by someone who has ill intentions for you. It's important to focus on your career and loved ones, and enjoy the ride.
Have there been any “pinch-me” moments throughout your journey in Hollywood?
Becoming a Bubble ambassador was one of my "pinch-me" moments. They are a brand that I have loved since they launched in 2020, especially since they have such a great platform for mental health. Meeting Brad Pitt at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was another cool moment.
You’ve been vocal about your childhood struggles with vitiligo. What has your relationship with your skin been like over the years?
It was challenging growing up and struggling with vitiligo. I was teased a lot and would wear long sleeves to cover it up. Since then, I've come a long way and have learned to embrace my skin. It's also why I was so passionate about Bubble's "What's On Your Face" campaign. I love that the brand brings up conversations around skincare and mental health. They're letting their audience know it's okay to struggle with skin issues and that skin doesn't need to be perfect 100% of the time.
What’s your current skincare routine?
I love to meditate, take a hot shower, and splash my face with some cold water in the morning. I use Bubble's Fresh Start Gel Cleanser ($16), Day Dream Tone and Texture Serum ($15), and Level Up Balancing Moisturizer ($15) each morning. At night, I follow a pretty similar routine.
You recently launched your clothing brand Sangre Mía. What inspired the brand?
The main inspiration was my fans. I always referred to my audience as my family, and Sangre Mía in English means "blood of mine." After playing around with this name, we turned it into a streetwear clothing line. Its main purpose is to empower people to feel proud of who they are and their unique journey in life.
In the promo video for Sangre Mía, you share a bit about your parents. How have they inspired you? What’s the best piece of advice they’ve given you?
My parents are my biggest inspiration. They came to this country with absolutely nothing and created a life that many could only dream of having. Their work ethic and the genius financial decisions they’ve made throughout their years together are something I truly admire. The best advice I’ve gotten from them is to focus on one bit at a time. Don't try to take on the whole world in one sitting. They taught me it’s a long game and to be patient. Many young people struggle with this, especially when you look online and see people seemingly having it all figured out. But it’s important to focus on your journey. Learn from others, but focus on your own game of life. The truth is no one has this all figured out.
Skateboarding is one of your passions outside of acting. How has it been an outlet for you over the years?
Skateboarding was my first love. It started when I watched the film Lords of Dogtown, directed by Catherine Hardwick. After watching the movie, I rushed to the local board shop and bought my first skateboard. It’s been one of the best outlets in my life—my sense of time vanishes, and I'm just present. The best times of my life will always be those years spent venturing out into different cities all over California skateboarding with friends. Speaking of which, I heard they are doing a remake of Lords of Dogtown and turning it into a series. I really want to be a part of it. So Catherine, if you're reading this, let’s talk.
What types of roles and stories are you excited to pursue in the future?
I previously said I wanted to do a movie in all Spanish, and I just finished my first Spanish-only role in a film called Las Cruces. John Stahlberg directs it, and the cast includes Tyrese Gibson, Hemky Madera, Nick Cassavetes, Thomas Jane, Luke Hemsworth, Paul Johansson, and more. If I’m going to add to the list of manifestations: I want to do the Lords of Dogtown series, a movie with Tim Burton, a film with Warner Bros, and join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
People love to binge-watch On My Block. What are some of the shows you’ve been into lately?
I’ve been on a huge medieval times binge and just finished one of my favorite shows on Netflix called The Last Kingdom. I'm also watching Vikings on Hulu too.
What’s coming up next for you?
I have Sony and Toei Animations' live-action superhero film Knights of the Zodiac coming to theatres next year. I'm excited about Las Cruces. I’m also looking forward to shooting another movie in July.