Maurice Rodriguez, the chubby, Puerto Rican nightclub owner played by actor Luis Guzmán in the 1997 masterpiece Boogie Nights, was never going to become a famous adult film star. But he definitely believed he could be.
That’s the kind of positive energy Latinx people need to harness going into the New Year. Like Maurice, they need to believe in doing something that most people would think unattainable and do everything possible to accomplish it.
For Maurice, it was to star in one of the adult movies produced by Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds). Maurice was used to hanging around all the actors and their friends in the industry, so to him, he had already put himself in a position to take the next step toward stardom. In one scene at a pool party, he explains to adult film star Amber Waves (Julianne Moore) that he wants more out of life than just owning the Hot Traxx Nightclub in the San Fernando Valley.
“I’m just this poor fella from Puerto Rico,” Maurice tells Amber. “I got this club, yeah, that’s one thing. But soon, the club goes, and what do I have? I got nothing.”
Maurice wants to leave a legacy behind and for people to know that he was once a star—even for one fleeting moment. He wants someone to give him a chance to prove he can do something that, in his mind, is legendary.
“I want something to send back home,” he says. “Something I could send to my brothers to say, ‘Look at me. Look at me and all the beautiful women I’ve been with.’”
After Amber tells Maurice that she will talk to Jack about letting him be in a movie, he leaves the conversation with the confidence Marc Anthony would have if he walked into a salsa club. Just look at what Maurice wears throughout the film. Not many people can pull that open-shirt look with a potbelly. The dude screams poise.
Later, Maurice finally makes his adult film debut—as an extra. He plays a bartender in one of Dirk Diggler’s (Mark Wahlberg) movies. His only line: “Yes, ma’am.”
Maurice may have only had a single line of dialogue in the film, but, for all intents and purposes, he made it. He finds a way to put himself into a situation and doesn’t take no for an answer. He takes initiative and asks for something others will probably mock him for—but he does it anyway.
By the end of Boogie Nights, Maurice is seen opening a new bar with his brothers, but who really knows what became of him as an actor after his debut role. With confidence like that, we could only imagine greatness. Be like Maurice Rodriguez and reach for big things in 2021.