Every artist has a motivation, and for Joshua Gutierrez, his is to save the world. But like any great actor, Gutierrez’s grandest aspirations stem from very humble roots: his family. In his second year of community college, his parents were hit with a major financial setback, a reality that profoundly changed how he looked at his career.
“[My parents] had to sell our house and nearly everything we had and move back to New York to live in my aunt’s basement,” says Gutierrez.
He finished community college while living at a friend’s house, eventually moving to Richmond to join the theatre program at VCUarts. But a visit back home over Thanksgiving break hammered home how much financial burdens had affected his family.
“To see how worse it got so fast changed my view on why I want to act,” he says. “The whole thing is way bigger than me. I want to save my family and give back.”
Gutierrez’s home life was integral in shaping him as an actor. He was first driven to drama in his childhood. “I would watch TV and movies and want to be like the people in them. I just always thought it was the coolest thing in the world.” At home, his oldest brother would also lend funny voices to written dialogue in video games as they played. “The idea of giving these characters voices was amazing because I thought they deserved to have voices, and being able to give them one was awesome. So when I learned how to read, I would do the same when I played games.”
By the time he reached high school, Gutierrez was devoted to his craft and competitive in auditions for school plays. At VCUarts, he’s been cast in unconventional shows such as 2015’s Junta High, where he and around 10 other performers took the stage one at a time for monologues that lasted 15 minutes. This year, he joined the production of Grand Concourse at Richmond’s TheatreLAB, where his performance as Oscar was described by the Richmond Times-Dispatch as “expertly [balancing] macho good cheer with sober fidelity to his character’s girlfriend.”
Gutierrez has maintained a great working relationship with his classmates, saying, “I am so happy I could spend my time here at VCU with this group of students. … I can’t wait for all of us to go out into the world and leave our marks.”
After graduation, Gutierrez will be staying in Richmond through the spring before pursuing training and career opportunities in the film industry. But in the longterm, he has his sights set on giving back to his family, helping his friends overcome debt and addiction, donating money to churches, hospitals and schools, and even building facilities for communities in need.
“I’ve always wanted to be a superhero,” says Gutierrez, “and acting is my superpower to save the world.”