Gabe Chavarria on Learning the Value of Family From Immigrant Parents

Love is all you need. Gabriel Chavarria, best known for his work on Hulu’s East Los High, shares with ET the ups and downs his family experienced after immigrating to the United States from Honduras. He recounts growing up in government housing, times of uncertainty and how their love for each other kept them going. The 31-year-old actor will appear next on Netflix’sSelena: The Series.

In his own words:

Family to me is the most important thing. I grew up with 11 siblings and it helped me appreciate the importance of having a supportive family unit. It allowed me to understand and have a better perspective on all the sacrifices my parents made to give us a better life. 

Like many other brave immigrant families, my parents immigrated to the United States from Honduras. They gave up everything they had to come to a place they knew very little about for us. When my parents made their journey to the U.S, they came with seven of my older siblings. At the time, my mother was pregnant with baby number eight. Yes, that sounds crazy. (And, yes, the book on that story is on its way.) No matter what happened, my parents did everything together — as a family.

I grew up in Los Angeles, California, and we experienced a lot of financial difficulties. The struggle was real. We were poor. We lived in Section 8 housing, going from one housing project to the next. But, it didn’t matter where we lived. To me, what was important was how life was inside our home. I was a happy and joyful kid. I grew up very close to my brothers and sister. We were always there for each other. 

With what little we had we always made the best of it. What mattered to me most was that I was with my family and I never felt alone. My family was very supportive while I was starting out. As an aspiring actor, things don’t happen overnight and my older brothers were always there through the tough times.

My favorite memories as a kid are all shared with my siblings. We lived in a community that was predominantly Black and Hispanic. I remember some of my neighbors would love to come to our house and hang out because they always felt that sense of togetherness that perhaps they didn’t get to experience at home. 

Family doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be biologically related. Friends can become family, it’s about sharing a connection that goes deeper than blood. You would do anything for them as much as they would do anything for you — that’s what family is. 

Listen, no family is perfect. This pandemic has been rough. But one thing that has helped me a lot during this challenging time is being able to connect deeper with my family. 

Enjoy your loved ones, appreciate them and be grateful for them. 

— Gabriel Chavarria

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