It all started out as a joke—a college football player trying out for the school musical because his friend thought it would be amusing. He didn’t care if he got the part. He’d never acted, and, quite honestly, he was just goofing around.
But one week later Juan Alfonso, then a freshman at Azusa Pacific University, walked into his coach’s office and quit the sport he loved to focus on a new dream: his acting career.
“That was sort of the beginning in my journey in the arts,” recalls Juan, a member of Media City Church (Burbank Foursquare Church) in Burbank, Calif., who 12 years later is making a name for himself in Hollywood and finds he has been sent to influence the acting community for Christ.
Dominican born and U.S. raised, the 32-year-old actor credits his diversity for shaping him into a more versatile performer. Upon arriving in Southern California’s Orange County with his parents and younger brother at age 8, he encountered the culture shock, the language barrier and the peers who bullied him because they weren’t accepting of his “Latino-ness.”
“We heard it all, the name-calling, spit on, everything,” shares Juan, who found comfort in his younger brother and in comedy.
A fan of comedian actor Jim Carrey’s work, Juan thought, “He’s making people laugh, I want to make people laugh.” But before having a steady career, he lived through the same challenge thousands of struggling actors face: finding a way to pay the bills. “There was a process of time where I had to work [at night] to be able to audition during the day,” he says.
Juan and his cousin launched a party planning business that took off. But he recalls it felt like he was away from where God wanted him to be. So he made the decision to trust God with his finances and career, leaving the nightlife. Media City Church, where he attends with his fiancée, Danielle, was crucial in his determination to trust God’s provision.
“It was the encouragement that I got from the church to really make that decision to step out in faith and trust God,” he explains. “Now I’m able to just live off of acting, and it’s been quite a journey. God has been so great at taking care of me. We all have a role to play, and I think a pastor’s role is one of the most important when it comes to sending disciples to ministry,” he adds.
Juan is now living his dream—he was recently cast on the CBS sitcom Mom, for example, where he performed in front of a live audience alongside actors such as Anna Faris and Allison Janney.
Whether it’s through his performance or everyday life on the set, Juan sees acting as his ministry. “I just do my job, love people, show the light, and surprisingly people open up to me,” he says.
One of those people is 23-year-old Moises Martinez, who met Juan on the set of a commercial. “Juan was very welcoming, and he appreciated I was looking to learn and understand my role,” he says. Moises relocated to Los Angeles from Texas to pursue his own dream. The young actor, who meets with Juan regularly, says the way his friend stepped out in faith with his career is inspiring.
Juan and his future bride plan to launch a children’s arts ministry at Media City Church. He wants to equip children and parents for the journey they will embark on, while promoting the arts.
“And who knows, maybe the kids will be able to minister to people through the productions at the church, and change lives,” he says. “They will see that you can do your part to tell the Good News by using your gifts.”