“I got through the first part of my audition by actually tapping into my roots... who I was. I think that that’s paid off for me in my entire career, you know, my thirty [year] plus career,” concludes Jesse Borrego, as he reflects on the influence his family had on him as a young man growing up on the south side of San Antonio.
Borrego recalls the days from his youth, seeing his father, an accordion player and Conjunto musician, performing for crowds at parties in dance halls. Remembering the first time he was old enough to grasp how these performances could affect people, he says, “I think that’s where I first started to get hooked, when I saw this person that we idolized, you know, and we saw him up there, and we saw the people vibeing off of him. I mean, that’s when I said ‘Hey, I could be that!’ you know, ‘I’m his namesake. I could do that kind of thing.’”
Borrego also cites his grandmother as a cultural influence that not only taught his father everything, but also taught him about his roots. With a musician for a father, and a “precocious” older sister who danced and sang, performance was always a part of his life, something that he feels helped him when he auditioned for and landed his first major role as Jesse Velasquez on the television show Fame from 1984 to 1987.