Rhenzy Feliz; known for Runaways (2017), Teen Wolf (2011) and All Together Now (2020) speaks to Finlay Christie about his new film All Together Now and his time on Marvel Runaways. 

Being a teenager in any world means tears, tantrums, hormones, and a whole lot of drama. Throw a
few supervillains into the mix, and destruction is inevitable. For Rhenzy Feliz’s character, Alex Wilder
in Marvel’s ‘Runaways’, this was certainly the case.

The 22-year-old actor, who stars as the frontrunner of an unlikely crew of teens, uncovers what life’s
really like when you’re catapulted into the limelight as a teenager – with or without a little help from
a superhero.

Fighting Societal Norms

For many young actors who take the leap into Hollywood, a life of auditions, acting classes, and agent-
hopping typically prelude any role. This was not the case for Feliz, who only discovered his passion
when his family moved from Florida to Los Angeles.

“Growing up in Florida, there wasn’t a lot of emphasis on acting. They want you to play football, go
into baseball, or some other sport. When I got to LA, that changed for me.”

With a certain stigma attached to the world of acting in his previous years, Rhenzy only considered
acting as a profession when he reached the bright lights of California.

“It’s not weird to act here in LA. That’s when I first thought I’d give it a shot. My best friend’s
stepdad ran a comedy class, so I said we should go after practice one time. I went, and I loved it. I
first found my passion through that.”

Though this was his first professional brush with acting, Rhenzy loved to perform as a child. But due
to the unpopularity of acting in his hometown, it was something the star had overlooked as a future

“As a kid, I loved singing karaoke on stage and I loved being in front of an audience to perform.”
But after arriving in Hollywood, where a career in acting was encouraged rather than discouraged,
everything changed. But Rhenzy still had one problem: convincing his family.

We’ve all been there, when you finally build up the courage to tell your family of your new life
choice. You sit them down, prepare a big speech, but just as you utter the first word, you’re met
with confused faces and a scowl.

“I didn’t tell my extended family that I was trying to become an actor at first, because they couldn’t
understand it. I would try and explain to them, but they just couldn’t grasp why I wasn’t going to
school instead. I told them that’s something I could do later, and they’d totally write me off. That
never felt great.”

While Feliz’s extended family were supportive in other ways, it’s easy to understand why following a
career path in the arts – a difficult industry to break at the best of times – seemed alien to those
around him. But one person who saw true potential in his career choices was his mother.
“My mom and I, we’re extremely close. She was the one who originally gave me the push to do this
whole acting thing. I was debating whether I should go to university, or to a pursue a career in acting
– and the driving force behind me choosing acting was my mom.”

His mother reminded him that if he wanted to go to Uni later in her life, the option was always

“She highlighted the momentum I had at the time, and that pursuing a career in acting was a once in
a lifetime opportunity. I was on the fence, unsure of what to do, and she pushed me to realise my
dreams. She had a huge impact on my career and I thank her all the time for that.”

There is certainly a stereotype that the key to success is going to university and following a set path.
When people push against this current and strive for a creative role, many, naturally, receive cynical
opinions from those around them due to the success rate of actually ‘making it’.

“I feel like society wants people to venture down the comfortable route. If you can say that you’re
going to a certain school for four years, get a diploma, a degree, then it’ll prove to your employer
that you can do the job. They’ll hire you, and you’ll slowly work your way up, and you’ll do your 9-5.
That’s what people are expected to do.

“But when you tell them you’re going to try and follow what you love, to perform on stage, or be in
front of a camera, people have this sort of negativity towards it. I understand the doubt, but I feel
like it perhaps comes from a place that, in certain cases, they didn’t have the courage to pursue their
true passion.”

While going to university and obtaining a degree is by no means a thing to be discouraged, there is a
certain courage to fighting societal expectations in pursuit of a dream. What’s important, says Feliz,
is the drive to carry on.

Secrets to Success

The law of attraction is the most powerful law in the universe. A simple and unchanging universal
principle, often likened to gravity. If you try to jump off your couch, you fall. If you toss a penny off a
roof, it’ll hit the ground. But when you hear someone speak of applying this law to manifest their
dream life, you’re likely met with feelings of doubt, scepticism, and thoughts of practicality over
actuality. But is the notion as whimsical as it sounds?
Not according to Rhenzy.

“First and foremost, you have to believe. It sounds cliché, but if you truly visualize it, truly embody
whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, you’ll succeed.”

And while many making the jump into the industry often subsidise their income with extra work,
Feliz instead suggests that giving yourself a back-up plan can often be synonymous with confirming
doubt in yourself.

Rhenzy never gave himself a back up plan, and that was what forced him to believe in himself.
“There was no plan B. There was only plan A. For me personally, that made all the difference. All of
my being was focused on getting an acting job. All of my being was focused on producing good work
– and through that, work immediately followed. Of course, I’m very fortunate, but I definitely feel it
has something to do with the belief I had in myself.”

While there is a clear correlation between positive thinking and success, hard work, determination –
and often an extra sprinkling of luck – play a huge role in people’s path into creative industries.
Doubt in your craft is normal, but according to Feliz, what truly matters is being able to push through
feelings of self-doubt and come out the other side.

“There were times where I sought validation, times when I didn’t feel like I was the one for the job.
On the rise up, when I was trying to get auditions, I definitely had feelings of doubt. But I always felt
the potential of being the big movie star. I shot for the moon, and I’m still shooting – this is just the
beginning for me.”

Even the biggest and brightest visions can lose radiance in the face of self-doubt. As a completely
natural, and sometimes unavoidable thought process, self-doubt often inoculates you against the
things that might derail you later on.

“There have definitely been times where I questioned if I still love what I do. But the main thing is
that I soon realised I could not possibly be happier in any other job. There’s always going to be hard
days. There are going to be times when you don’t want to get up and do it – but this is your job, so
you have to.”

The grass may always look greener, but at the end of the day every job is exactly that – a job.
“A lot of people say, ‘find something you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’ But
it’s still work: you still have to show up at 5am; you still have to stay up until six in the morning when
the sun comes up to do shots that are going to add up to 30 seconds.”

Of course, in any job role, there’s going to be times when giving up seems easy. The young actor says
the crucial thing is to place your other options side by side, and truly search within to discover if you
wouldn’t be happier venturing down another route.

“If I had the choice between doing this or anything else, I would pick this a thousand times over.”
Marvel and More

Marvel’s extensive catalogue means different things to different people, but the power of the
superhero story is universal. For every person who felt like they didn't fit in, who has ever felt
different, an outcast, or not truly represented in the media, Marvel’s stories make them feel
extraordinary. They remind the reader, the viewer, or the listener that it’s okay to be considered
different, because that’s what makes you the hero of your own story.

In Marvel’s hit-series Runaways, this message is strikingly resonant, but what exactly is it about the
series that has struck such a chord with audiences across the globe?

“I think it’s because the show’s about teenagers – featuring teenagers. These teenagers have been
put in weird and extreme circumstances, forcing them to rise up and question everything they’ve
known to be true.”

Questioning everything you’ve ever known is a feeling that most experience while growing up, and
there are times when pretty much every teenager has thought that their parents are evil. But what if
they actually were?

Runaways explores this notion with a certain villainous intricacy, in a world reminiscent of current
world affairs.

“There’s a lot going on in our own world right now, and as a teenager, there’s a certain point where
you start to question authority. As you transition from childhood to adulthood, you begin to
understand things on a completely different level.”

Rhenzy believes this is mirrored in the series: “I think that’s a huge theme in the show. We turn
against everything we’ve ever known, against all the authoritative figures in our lives, and I feel like
teenagers grasp onto that.”

Before moving to Florida, Rhenzy initially grew up in the Bronx. “Growing up I didn’t have a lot. In my
last summer break, I went to stay at my aunt’s and the only place to sleep was on the floor. So I took
a blanket down and slept right there. That’s kind of the way we grew up.”

With the up-and-coming actor’s lack of growing-up time, he relates to many of Marvel’s mass
following. Followers typically use comic books as a way of escapism, much in the same way Feliz can
be the hero in his own story. The star of his own show. Not that his childhood was one he wanted to
escape from.

“The way my family works, we’re all very close. We’re incredibly family-orientated, and that comes
with love. You truly feel that, that kind of love and support.”

The Importance of Authenticity

In many ways, performance and authenticity are two opposing and often contradictory terms. A
good performer is well-trained in the art of wearing different masks, whereas authenticity involves
the removal of masks to reflect who we are deep inside. But is it possible to achieve both?

The ‘Runaways’ actor always strives to feel something real with each performance.

“They’re seeing something very human which resonates with them. It resonates with us all. I always
try to play a version of myself – just a darker version who’s been through a lot more. That way,
audiences see something real. That’s when I feel art is really coming across – when another human
being can see through this visual medium and feel something themselves.”

The Final Mission

Another universality in superhero movies is an epic climax. So what’s next for Rhenzy Feliz?
“I feel like I’m just at the beginning, as if I’m at the base of a huge mountain. In terms of making it, I
don’t feel like I will have truly made it until I can sit back, look out over my beautiful balcony and
have scripts coming at me that I can pick and choose from. The goal is longevity. It’s consistency.
Because the second you drop off, your career will slack, and you’ll fall off that mountain.”
Rhenzy Feliz’s climb continues when the third season of ‘Runaways’ airs in the UK this year.