Ricky Garcia is here to prove he’s far more than a Disney star, or member of a boy band. You may have seen him on the television show Best Friends Whenever, or maybe on stage performing as part of Hollywood Records’ Forever In Your Mind, either way, we can’t get enough.
Boasting 738K followers on Instagram alone, Ricky is America’s sweetheart, unveiling his down-to-earth, loving personality to his fans on the daily. Currently starring in the new Netflix series Finding Ohana, he still manages to find time to focus on the music: unleashing his newest single titled “All I Wanna Do.”
To date, the 22-year-old hails an impressive catalog of TV and film credits, even earning a Teen Choice Award Nomination for Choice Comedy Movie Actor in his lead role in Bigger Fatter Liar. On the music tip, Ricky’s excited as ever to be going from singing in Forever In Your Mind to now opening this new chapter in 2021 with his solo artistry.
Flaunt caught up with Ricky via Instagram Live, who was posted in Orange County enjoying the sun and beach. Read below as we discuss his upbringing, biggest influences, the journey to get to where he is now, being in a boy band, coming up on Disney, “All I Wanna Do,” shooting Netflix’ Finding Ohana, love for cooking and surfing, and more!
You’ve been in the OC for a year now, do you like it?
I love it. I lived in LA for a little too long. [laughs] When I came out here, something about the energy... LA is too conglomerate. There's too many people there, Orange County is more slowed down. Everything’s more chill here.
You were born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Texas. What was the household like growing up?
The household was crazy at times, but pretty chill for the most part. I was involved in sports, but I was also dabbling in music at that time. I always was listening to music and watching TV, impersonating all my favorites on TV. I have 2 older brothers, they've always supported what I’m doing. I know I'm making my family proud.
How does it feel to be watching TV, and now on the TV now? Full-circle!
Oh my gosh. [laughs] Sometimes, it can be weird. I'm watching TV and I'm seeing myself, but then there's those moments where I think “wow, I'm doing this. I'm doing what I dreamed of when I was a kid.” It's definitely a blessing, watching myself and knowing how much time was put into it. All the effort it took to get to that point.
What was the grind like, if you could sum it up?
The grind was day-in, day-out. My dad says: success is when opportunity meets luck and luck meets good timing. I was working hard for a long time. When you're patient with it and you're confident of what's to come, then it’ll come.
Who were your biggest influences?
Justin Timberlake, he's the perfect sum of an entertainer. He's an actor, a musician, songwriter, singer, dancer. I know he produces himself, he literally does everything. Justin Bieber was a huge inspiration too. Also Usher, a lot of these R&B artists. Listening to music, it was so groovy. They’re doing all their runs, doing all this with their voices, whoa. To be able to be on that level would be crazy.
What was the moment you got your first taste of success?
Definitely X Factor. When I was onstage in front of Simon Cowell, shoot! I was nervous as hell, not gonna lie. [laughs] Demi Lovato, Paulina Rubio, Kelly Rowland… are you kidding me? I was looking up to those people huge, especially Simon Cowell. Watching American Idol and seeing how he’s tough on these people, I knew I could not mess up. I needed to shake off the nerves, I needed to let it go. Pretty crazy, it was nuts. I definitely knew I was doing something special.
What did you learn about yourself on that show?
I learned that being onstage is scary. That’s the funny thing. I still get nervous for every little thing I do. Every show, even going live sometimes, I’m a little scared. I need to present myself. It took a long time to get to a point where I thought “okay, these nerves are actually a good thing. I started using them to my advantage.”
Did music or acting come first?
Both. It was hard. I was doing a little Youtube and little covers. I was in acting class, but I was doing theater on top of that. When I was a kid, I was learning how to be onstage and have stage presence.
What was the highlight from shooting Disney’s Best Friends Whenever?
Crazy enough, I was in the band FIYM. We’re able to sing the theme song to that show, which I never had dreamed. Watching these shows like Hannah Montana as a young kid, seeing these people sing their own songs, being the lead actors, whoa. You have to be real lucky to do that. Then an opportunity came, I still think about that. That was a blessing right there, really sick.
What was your experience being in a boy band?
Another blessing. I held some of my favorite memories with those guys. They’re literally my brothers. I spent so much time with them, they’re always going to be a part of my family. All the times we were traveling together, in between the shows, stopping and appreciating the time together. Being able to experience something we’re all experiencing for the first time together was really special.
Craziest place you went?
Before, when we were starting out, we went to Toronto. That’s our first show outside of the country, that was humongous for us. GMA, Arthur Ash, in front of 20,000+ people. It’s crazy to think about: we really did that? It’s weird. Honestly every show was amazing, no matter the number of people there.
How is it transitioning from boy band to your solo artistry?
The transition’s been beautiful, it’s been good and bad. There have been good times where I’m in the studio, I’m just thinking. Moments where I’m writing by myself, I get stuck and I have a brain fart. Writer’s block. There’s times where this song will be flowing out of me, I’ll be writing lyrics so fast my hands can’t even keep up. I’m trying to type like dang, I’m on fire. I don’t want to stop. It’s been interesting learning to sing and play guitar by myself. I’m so used to playing with other people and not even playing guitar ever, live. It’s been fun though, it’s all a beautiful challenge that I’m enjoying.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
It’s okay to have that, you have to understand that comes. You’re not going to be able to have a song flowing out of you every second. It’s okay to take a second to go outside, chill, do whatever you do to take your mind off it. When you come back, something better will come. You’ll listen back to it and you’ll go “mmm, I could change something.” It could be a good opportunity to better the song. I like to think of it as a positive thing.
What inspires you the most you think?
Love, every writer talks about love all the time. Love’s really the thing that drives me because that’s how we all connect. Some people love it or hate it. Love is something we all share. That’s definitely what I write about most.
Someone asked, do you speak Spanish?
Un poquito. [laughs] I wish I could speak a little more, but I’m learning. My dad’s side is all Mexican. Every time I get the opportunity, man I wish I could speak the entire language right now. I wish I could have a conversation, but I’m trying!
3 things you need in the studio?
Guitar, my phone. I need to write stuff down or else I’ll forget, big time. And a microphone, I need to record with something.
Where do you record at?
I either record with my boy Jintae. I wrote my single “All I Wanna Do” with him, who’s the coolest dude ever. I’m in the studio with him, or I’ll write anywhere. I’ll write in the car. Any time I get inspiration, I need to put it down or else I’m that type of person to forget 5 seconds later.
What can we expect from "All I Wanna Do" coming 2/19?
I’ve been sitting on this song for 2 years, I wrote it in 2019. I’m more excited than I’ve ever been for any release of any song I’ve ever put out. This is my first single because I’m actually pushing it. I feel something different about this song. It’s my baby, I wrote it. It came from me, a big part of me. For how effortlessly it came out of me, I knew it was going to be special immediately when I wrote it. I’m so excited, you have no clue. It’s a new phase of my career, new phase of my life, a new path.
Who’s the special someone who inspired it?
Someone I love. [laughs] Someone I’ve spent so much time with, someone I’ve gone through hell and back with. I don’t want to give away too much but in the lyrics, you’ll hear. It’s an easygoing song, but then you’ll hear a part of me went through some stuff. I’m speaking on that a little bit too.
What can we expect from the visual?
Paul Boyd’s the one who directed that, he’s Award-winning. He’s done videos with Shania Twain, Lenny Kravitz, Sting, legends in music. He definitely created something special, I can’t wait for everyone to see that. It’s going to be awesome.
Talk about life outside of music, I know you like to spend time outdoors.
I’m a surfer big time. I like to spend a good amount of hours out on the water. It’s my meditation almost, how I connect back with the earth and God.
How long have you been surfing for?
I’m 22, I’ve been surfing since I was 14, 15. What is that, 6 years? I’m not good at math. [laughs] It’s been a long time. It’s been tough because I swear, I went a whole year without surfing. I was literally learning for the first time, getting back into it. I’m trying to go every week. It’s my meditation. If anyone can try surfing, I recommend go out there and surf.
What if you can’t get it…?
Practice makes perfect. I’ve had days where I’ve caught no waves at all! You gotta get back out there. Paddle boarding can definitely help you get that balance right. Standing up, work that core a little bit. Definitely a lot of core work involved, and a lot of paddling. The other day, I hadn’t surfed in months and my back was torn up.
Where’s your puppy?
Frenchie boy Rocco’s back in Texas with my grandma. She’s holding it down, she’s got the whole kennel. She’s got 4 or 5 Frenchies, it’s crazy. My brother breeds them so if anyone’s interested in getting a French bulldog, go hit up @garciabulliestx. He’s always doing his thing.
Talk about landing the role on Netflix’s Finding Ohana.
Honestly, that was totally unexpected. I got the offer, they’d told me “oh, there’s this cameo role.” They sent me the script, I read it. Are you kidding me? This is a dream role. I get to be a pirate, an adventurer. I’m the documentation guy, I’m documenting the entire trip. The movie’s so exciting, it reminds me of Goonies. With my character, you have to watch the entire time to get the full grasp of it. It’s through my eyes but also an interpretation from Kea, the lead girl who plays Pili. It’s so funny, it’s so beautiful. It’s a feel-good, family movie everyone can watch. Anyone who watches this will love it.
Someone asked, who’s your favorite character?
Oh man, Alex Aiono. He’s hilarious. I go way back with him. I’ve hung out with him so many times. Knowing how he is in person, it made it so much fun working together. He’s hilarious throughout the film. You all need to watch this. Finding Ohana’s literally so hilarious, I promise you’ll love it.
How’s it feel to hit #2 on Netflix Top 10?
That’s my first time, #2 movie on Netflix was pretty sick. Honestly, I don’t even know what to think about that. It was beautiful. I had no clue it was even going to hit that high. Man, a blessing right there.
You turned 22 recently, how was your birthday?
Amazing! I was surprised with gifts. I got a wetsuit and a surfboard which was pretty amazing and this hat I've been wanting for a while. You never really expect things as you get older, so when you receive heartfelt gifts it's nice. I got to announce my single “All I wanna Do,” that day and of course I had to end the day with Sushi!
Who would you play in an autobiography?
Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio, he’s one of my favorite actors. His career is massive, he inspires me every time I watch him. I’ve been told Cole Sprouse, I don’t know if he’d do an autobiography anytime soon. Leo’s had a longer career, or Paul Walker.
What do you like to cook?
I love cooking, one of my favorite hobbies to do. I wish I could make it a full-time thing, but music takes the cake. I love to cook salmon, I'm a big-time seafood lover. I'm also pescatarian. I also like to cook rice. Rice is simple. I like them greens, those salads. I’m whipping it up, at least a couple times a week for sure.
Do you miss being in Forever In Your Mind?
I’m not going to say I don’t. I love them, I miss them. I saw my boy Emery the other day. It always feels like a reunion with them. I’ll be listening to the music in my own time, it brings back really good memories but I don’t try to dwell on that too much. Of course, I miss being on stage with them. I’ll hold those moments in my heart forever because they helped build me up as an artist, but I’m looking forward to creating my own path. My own story.
Do you still love Star Wars?
Are you kidding me? I love Star Wars. I finished The Mandalorian. Every episode came out, I swear. Mandolorian is fire. If anyone likes Star Wars and you haven’t watched it, oh my gosh. That brings back some nostalgic memories right there. Man, Star Wars will always hold a soft spot in my heart.
Favorite cover you’ve done?
“Cry Me A River.” When I learned that, I had to listen to it back a few times. That was fun. “All That Matters,” I learned how to play that on guitar. “Better” by Zayn, That’s a fire song right there. His new album is all jams.
What’s your favorite movie?
Inception is one of the trippiest movies I’ve ever watched. Leo’s the best actor I’ve watched onscreen. I had to watch it a good dozen times already, and every time, I’m seeing something new added. Michael Bay’s the guy who directed that, one of the best directors of our time.
Someone asked, are you single?
Only time will tell. [laughs] Valentine’s Day is coming up, spending it with people I love and cherishing the moment. Every day’s Valentine’s Day, I’m always trying to give that love.
Favorite thing to do at home with family?
Play cards. Shoot, people might think that’s cheesy, but I love playing cards with the fam. Get a little competitive nature going. Listening to music. I’m pretty active, playing some cornhole or I like tossing the ball with my dad every now and then.
Do you have any tattoos?
I do, I have one on my ribs right here. I’m trying to get more. I was scared. Because you hear everyone say that’s one of the worst spots, but I had to do it. No pain, no gain. It’s an anagram. It’s two words: one way it says family. If you see it the other way, it says forever. “Family forever.”
You help both kids and animals in need with Child USA, what inspires you to give back?
They spread awareness on sexual abuse, people who have gone through trauma, especially young children. They’re on top of the game everyday. Percentages and numbers change all the time, they’re trying to give the most up-to-date, accurate answers. They’re spreading some real eye-opening knowledge. I went through my fair share of that, I had to spread awareness about this because I don’t think people talk about it enough. It’s a taboo thing to talk about, so it’s important. More people should be comfortable talking about it.
What advice would you give to new young actors?
It’s okay to be nervous, it’s okay to get that anxiety. With auditioning, you have to be comfortable with yourself. People who are casting, people who are looking at you, they do want you to do good. At least they should. Most casting directors will feel that. It’s all about being personable. You might not be the best actor but if you’re personable, they remember that. They’ll want you to do better, so they might give you an opportunity to do the scene again. I’ve done that in auditions, “oh, can I do it again?” I could’ve done better, or I’ll forget a line. If you’re eager and you want to do better, they’ll see that. They’ll like that, they’ll see how hard you want to work.
Are you thinking of releasing an EP or album this year?
I won’t say too much, but I’m always working. I’m grinding real hard right now. I’m cooking up real big stuff for my fans and my supporters.
Are you doing everything independently?
Currently, yeah. It’s tough. I know independent artists feel that, that’s a hard grind. I’m always open to other things, but doing it independent right now is really giving me the opportunity to see and really feel out the grind process.
What are you most excited about in the new year?
More music. I’m excited for people to watch Finding Ohana, of course. More people loving and supporting, that’s always awesome. I’m excited to surf more, that’s always a must. But I’m really excited to grind, to keep working on the music, to get better, to release and allow people to hear what I’ve been putting my heart and soul into.
Anything else you’d like to let the people know?
Love and peace, spread that positivity. I’m looking forward to seeing some of y’all in the new year, hopefully meeting some of you guys. That’d be awesome. Be on the lookout for what's next on my social channels YouTube, Tiktok and IG. I'm always tryna stay connected.