Sydney: Do you think any of the lessons and themes that are kind of central to the show (“Breaking Bad”), like violence and struggling to do the right thing, are applicable in your own life or in the lives of students here at the College?
RJ: Of course. The thing about “Breaking Bad” which really is amazing is that it does have so much realism to the show because you have so many aspects. The main concept of it, to me in particular, is “how far are you willing to go to provide for your family?” And that’s what it really gets down to. And to each person, it’s different. But for me, I’m willing to go as far as wanted. I’m willing to do what is necessary to provide and to give my family a better future, and I think a lot of people are the same way. And I think the violence and what we showed in “Breaking Bad” wasn’t gratuitous, it wasn’t over exaggerated. It was necessary when it was necessary. It wasn’t just violence here, violence there, but that’s this world. We’re not in a soft environment. This world is very dangerous. We do have violence. We do have corruption and we do have a lot of manipulation. And I think that people need to see it more that way, versus just… not being blind to it and not just dwelling in that type of darkness, but being aware of your surroundings, being aware of your environment. Because we do live in a very dangerous world and a very dangerous time. And now more than ever, we have access. People can see everything. People can see you they can find you by the click of a button, and you have to be able to protect yourself and protect your family.
Sydney: That’s true. So your lecture is titled “Overcoming Adversity.” What adversities have you faced growing up and breaking into the industry?
RJ: I faced… I never really looked at any of my challenges as adversity. I always looked at them as strengths and as knowledge. And that’s the thing, people need to look at it. When you have a challenge and you have anything affecting you, looking as it as a positive and not a negative, utilizing it and turning it into knowledge. I grew up having cr — well not crutches, but braces, and going through casting. I went through feet binging for years. Occupational therapy, speech therapy, just tons of different things, constantly working on taking control of my body, and that in itself is an adversity, but I mean, that’s part of life. That’s my normality. I grew up with this. I know this. I can handle this. Everyone in their own way has these challenges, but people don’t look at them as a challenge. and they see them and they think “I don’t want to deal with that.” But they have to deal with that to grow and to be who they’re meant to be, because if you allow fear to manipulate who you are, you’ll never be who you’re meant to be. You’ll never be who you’re intended for. You’ll never see what you’re intended to do and what you’re capable of doing if you let fear rule over you.
Sydney: If you had to say something to young adults that are struggling with that, what would you tell them?
RJ: Don’t allow people to convince you that you’re wrong. Don’t allow people to manipulate you. Yes, you won’t always see it, but try to always keep an open mind of what you want. Not what other people want. Because if you continue to try to please other people, you will lose who you’re meant to be. And not let your fears control what you are, because fear is a big thing. You do everything, pretty much, based on fear. “I’m not going to do this, I’m going to go that way,” or, “I’m not going to do this, I’m going to go that way.” I mean, a lot of people base their decisions on fear and you can’t do that, ’cause if you allow fear to rule over you, you’re not who you’re meant to be.