Modesto Lacén | Loíza, Puerto Rico, 1976
Film, television, theater and radio actor and producer with a history of 25 years of uninterrupted work in Puerto Rico, the United States, Spain and Colombia. Lacén began working professionally as a teenager and continued on to the Drama Department of the University of Puerto Rico, graduating with honors. He excelled in classical theater, physical theater and dance, and is fluent in Spanish, English, Portuguese and French. He lived in New York City for 8 years, working with The Public Theater and Circle in the Square. Welcomed by the Latino theater circuit of the city, he received several recognitions by HOLA Awards, ACE and ATI. He also holds a certificate in Arts Administration from NYU’s School of Continuing Studies.
His commitment to the Puerto Rican film industry has led him to work in more than twenty films in the island. Some include: Animal, alongside Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard; Back in the Day, as acting coach for actor/rapper Ja Rule; Sol de Medianoche; El chata; Angélica; and Fistful of Dirt, the first Puerto Rican film invited to the Telluride Film Festival.
His discipline and physical malleability have secured important roles of historical figures, such as his theatrical interpretations of composer Rafael Hernández and the legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente, a role he successfully reprised in the short film 3,000. Other theater credits include: Godspell, Hamlet, Medea and Infinito enquanto dure.
One of his most important works was his interpretation of Pedro Knight (Celia Cruz’ husband) in the hit Off-Broadway play Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz; which ran for over a year and traveled to cities such as Miami and Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Lacén reprises Pedro Knight, from his early years this time, in the TV series Celia, produced by Fox Telecolombia and Telemundo, released in 2015. Celia has enjoyed great international success, and can currently be streamed on Netflix.
Likewise, one of his most-awarded performances is in La esclava blanca, the top-rated telenovela for Caracol TV, Colombia (2016). La esclava blanca has been sold to 28 countries, including Poland, the United States, South Africa, Panama and Puerto Rico. Netflix has also acquired streaming rights.
In 2018, Lacén made his debut as writer and director with the short film The Aroma of Pig, currently being submitted to film festivals. Next up for the actor is the biographical television series based on the life of reggaeton singer Nicky Jam, El Ganador, produced by Telemundo and Netflix, as well as the film Utopia, to be shot entirely in Puerto Rico.
Aside from his artistic endeavors, Lacén is an activist; he believes in taking action to improve the quality of life in his hometown, Loíza. He has joined the Board of Directors of Taller Salud, a nonprofit feminist organization. Along with award-winner writer Mayra Santos-Febres and in conjunction with the mayoress, Lacén is also working on the project Camino a Loíza, a multidisciplinary effort to celebrate African culture and reinvigorate the economy of the region.