"Filming Homeland was cool. We had a shootout..."
After nearly leaving his AMTC audition early, Hector Banos decided to wait and see if the Lord was calling him into show business. Today this full-time actor, model and stunt coordinator realizes he made the right decision, coming to the conclusion that following your dreams can be as simple as going confidently in the direction God is leading you.
You are currently the Director of Talent at Lemon Production Company. Tell us about how you got involved with them, and what it is you do there.
I went to an audition for one of their films. This was about five years ago; there was so much going on, and the production I auditioned for got pushed back several times. Eventually I said to them, “You know what? If you ever need help with anything, I am more than willing.” So that’s what got their attention. I was willing to go beyond what I was expected to do, and they eventually came out and said, “You have a passion for this. Would you please help us get this going?” So they asked me to oversee casting. In the past I had been offered other positions where I would be part of (a production team), and there was always a fear that I had where I said, “I can’t do this.” But the Lord has been working on me to leave those fears behind, and just step out in faith. Our current production is called Whose Watching? and we’re working with people from LA and New York; there’s people interested in it, so we’re definitely keeping that in prayer.
When did you decide you wanted to get involved with show business?
I have always been performing. I used to do to do drills with ROTC, but this was a new level, a whole new thing. It’s funny because I came very close to not going, because of fear. I heard a commercial for AMTC over a radio station, and I asked my wife one day, “Hey, what do you think about this?” I was surprised because she said, “Well, if you want to try it, what’s the worse they can say? ‘No?’” So that motivated me to go, “Hey, let’s do it.” I went to the audition… they broke down how everything was going to happen, and by the end of the opening, fear sank into me. I was like, Man, I don’t know if I want to do this. My wife looked at me and I told her, “First chance we get, we need to sneak out.” But when the chance came to sneak out, something came over me and said, What have you got to lose? So I went ahead and did it. So I read the lines they gave me, and I didn’t know how well I did, though at the end they said, “You look like a model, but we feel that you will do better as an actor.” That surprised me because I wasn’t there for that. But to be honest, looking back now, that’s my first passion. Something grew out of me to where I have a passion for acting now, so I am very glad that the Lord blessed me with that.
You have done stunts in two productions now, on the show Homeland and your own production company’s film Who’s Watching? Is it difficult doing stunts, and what do you love about it?
It can be. Homeland was really fun. When they told me they were interested in me, I was very excited! It was my first one. We had a shootout and I was actually a terrorist, because of my look (laughs)… I can do many things, it’s a blessing. But that one was not too hard. Now there are some other stunts that I’ve done with Lemon Productions that were difficult, because there was a bomb, there as a blowout, a grenade… this was in the film Whose Watching? It was very physical. What I like is that I can play with what I love to do. I can make it my own though something’s a little hard. I get to blow stuff up, hang upside down; it’s awesome. I was even going to do some stunts in Iron Man 3, which didn’t end up happening, but I can see that the Lord is doing many things that I never thought possible. When I miss out on something it doesn’t matter… it doesn’t take away from the grace of God and what He has done already. Rejection makes me stronger; it gets me closer to Him.
What do you remember most about your time with AMTC?
Oh man… the love. The love of the people, and my teachers, who became my mentors. AMTC was one of the tools that God used for my spiritual growth. Through this process, I’ve learned to let the Lord work. And the quality that AMTC provides, it’s amazing. I got an interview with MGM, and then I got an audition with 20th Century Fox. That’s something that you don’t get anywhere else, not through anyone but AMTC.
You have been featured in print work as a principle model for many prominent companies– Lowe’s, Volvo Trucks, Blue Cross/Blue Shield to name a few. How do you stay humble with so many jobs now under you belt?
That’s a really good question. To be honest with you, one of the things I do is I don’t talk about it. And I don’t know if that’s wrong or right, but when we stand before the throne, a million people may know me, but if Jesus doesn’t know me, then nothing matters really. So I try to think about it like that. Another thing that I do is I don’t let go of my roots. I stay in touch with church. If I go to the gym to build my muscles and look good for the camera, then it’s a rule that that week I have to go to church and build my spirit up. And if my friends tell me I look great I tell them, “My body may look good, but I wish you could see my spirit.” Because it’s up. Once if you can imagine, my spirit was running through the desert, hungry and thirsty, but now it’s built. It’s got muscle. And it’s up. I also stay in touch with my close friends because they lift me up… and some of them don’t even know what I do. I’m in a Lowe’s training video for example. They see me in church and say, “Hey, I didn’t know you work at Lowe’s.” And I say, “I don’t, but I did for one day!” (Laughs).
Where have you seen God show up your modeling/acting career and where is He leading you in the future?
I have seen Him everywhere, because every time I go to a set, I’m thinking, Man, this is one more job that He gave me. This is about a greater purpose for the Lord. For instance one day I went to a film shoot, and there was someone there, and everybody was looking at this particular guy, mumbling words under their breath, and you could tell that they were judging him. So right away I started talking to this person, and just accepted him for who he was… a person in need of Christ. So it was really cool because this person was nervous, and you could tell he was very uncomfortable by the eyes and the heaviness of everyone looking at him, but praise be to God for the love that He shared with me, that I would be able to share it with this man. Another time I went to a photo shoot for Ashley Furniture, and we had a lunch break, and one of the models, he was young, the Lord gave me the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with him. His future looks promising, but I was trying to remind him about the need for Christ in his life, and he was like, Man, I needed that, and just started pouring out his heart. We went back to set, and we started praying. I started praying for him, and that moment was just priceless. But praise be to God! Again, I may not be known by everybody in this world but that’s okay. That moment then goes straight to God himself. And that to me is a blessing.
Any advice for future AMTC graduates?
That they would pay attention and take a lot of notes, because what they tell you at AMTC is what you will be remembering when you are out there in the real world. There were times when I would show up (for a role on camera) and think, wait… what did AMTC say about this? So it’s very important that whenever a consultant is sharing advice, you listen, That and when you think that you’ve messed up in your career, it doesn’t matter; just leave it behind, learn from it, but don’t let it bring you down.
Also, once a wise friend told me "stay rooted, in order not to fall". Meaning push forward in all situations as you dream and learn more about the entertainment business, but also not forgetting to push in the faith nor where you come from. Be careful about cockiness; it is very easy to do. It will sneak on you if you let it, instead keep it humble (not timid) and constantly think about how you want to be remembered; either as an average "star" or the ultimate star, someone one of compassion, love and kindness which are the roots and foundation of Christ. In my opinion, showing interest for others is another key to humbleness.
Second is that getting close to the Lord has cost me something or I should say everything. I thank God for what I went through and although it was very painful I would go through it again, because that is what made me who I am in Christ. Over time pain has taught me that denying it- is denying the cross, as one of the worship leaders at my church shared; she is a cancer survivor, which is a title that she has to live with, as she contentious to grow in faith. As an actor and model, I can relate to this because they are only titles to me. The titles do not define us for who we really are neither makes us better than anyone else, but it is the faith that pushes us forward in the struggle that makes us better. I consider the titles tools that God gave us to show his grace, power and love through. Sometimes in order to understand where Jesus Christ is calling us, we have to step in his shoes and outside of our comfort zone.