'The Haves and the Have Nots' Actor Oscar Torre Is Proud of His Cuban Heritage

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'Diary of Future President' Star Tess Romero

Playing the role of mob boss Vinny Malone in Tyler Perry's series The Haves and the Have Nots on OWN has been a lot of fun for Cuban American actor Oscar Torre. "When I joined the cast I honestly didn't know how long my character would be there because on these shows a lot of people die. Every episode I would read the script and think, 'Is Vinny still alive?'" Oscar tells People CHICA. "Vinny loves his family, his mother, his nephews, and he wants to protect them. If you try to hurt his family, he will do whatever it takes to protect them, and that's the way I play Vinny. You can't show weakness in the world of the show."

Courtesy of Oscar Torre

The actor also appeared on the big screen in the comedy The Hangover Part III with Bradley Cooper. "It was a dream," he says of that role. "I already had success in the series Cane with Jimmy Smits and Rita Moreno and that opened doors in Hollywood. Working on a franchise like The Hangover was amazing. Everything was top secret. You weren't given the whole script, just your scenes, and every actor in town wanted to be in a movie that big. The competition was fierce and getting that part was a blessing."

Courtesy of Oscar Torre

Torre, also known for his roles in The Boatman, Queen of the South, CSI: Miami, and The Mentalist, began acting at age 21. He told his girlfriend at the time to sign him up for an elective class in college and the rest is history. "She thought it would be funny to sign me up for an acting class but the joke was on her," he recalls. "I started taking that class and felt very awkward and out of place, but then I did one acting exercise and that moment was magic. I forgot that I was acting, that I was on stage, and that there was anybody in the audience. It was a very intimate moment for me and I caught the acting bug."

The actor, born and raised in Miami, is proud of the lessons his Cuban parents taught him. "It's totally who I am, coming from a Cuban family and being raised in Miami. You're very close to your culture," he says. "I was taught to embrace this country and everything that it has given us. I was fortunate to be born here, but at the same time I kept my roots. I learned Spanish. Embracing both cultures was instilled in me."

Courtesy of Oscar Torre

Guest starring on Queen of the South — and sharing scenes with Alice Braga as narco queen Teresa Mendoza — was also a treat. "That was fun. I was in Miami on vacation and I got the audition. I put myself on tape in my mother's kitchen and sent the audition right back. Two weeks later I was in Dallas shooting the series," he says.

In Queen of the South, he plays an accountant who realizes some mobsters are cheating on a horse race; he must make a difficult choice, putting himself and his daughter at risk if he tells the truth. "Those roles are always beautiful because you are dealing with a lot of emotions, juggling a lot of things," he shares. "It's challenging and it's thrilling."