The awakening of Manu Ríos, the new Elite star

The awakening of Manu Ríos, the new Elite star

The awakening of Manu Ríos, the new Elite star

With my 500-odd homegrown followers on Instagram, I can't imagine what it must be like to have 8 million people watching you every day. This is the figure that Manu Ríos (Calzada de Calatrava, Ciudad Real, 1998) displays on his social networks without dedicating himself to anything in particular and at the same time to a thousand things: model, singer, dancer, designer... That's why when he appears on Hearst Spain sets and he gets out of the taxi I can't help but imagine him accompanied by that million people. What horror!... Luckily the mirage only lasts seconds. "Good morning, I'm Manu Ríos, delighted," he says very politely as if we didn't know his face. I know that for some this being an influencer is a colossal bullshit, but the truth is that well put together, it not only feeds, it is also a springboard of opportunities. And that has happened to Manu. Thanks to his profile, a casting director contacted him. When you see him in season 4 of Elite turning Las Encinas school upside down (available on Netflix from June 18) you will be amazed by his skills as an interpreter.

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You come strong! What sex scenes you have shot in your debut. Didn't it bother you to have a threesome with Ander (Arón Piper) and Omar (Omar Ayuso)? That was precisely my first day of filming, so imagine, I was scared [laughs]... but the team made it easy for me: They were empathetic, welcoming and treated everything very delicately. My colleagues also reassured me a lot, so when we started recording I was already very aware that it was just a role. When I lost my shame and modesty, I even had a good time [laughs]. But yes, it was difficult, because I am quite shy and modest.

You play Patrick Blanco, the son of the new director. Are we going to love him or hate him? I don't think people will end up hating him, at least I hope so, but it is true that he creates controversy, expectation and mixed feelings. Let's say that he has his lights and his shadows, like almost everyone in Elite. From here I ask you to empathize with him, because sometimes things get out of hand [laughs].

If you went to Las Encinas school, who would you get along with and who wouldn't I get along with Guzmán (Miguel Bernardeau) too much, he's very different from me, although I wouldn't like him either. He would be friends with Omar, a super cute character, and with Ander. I think they are the most stable. Oh, and also with Mencía (Martina Cariddi). She's a bit chaotic, but a super cool 'sister'.

Was your school anything like Las Encinas? What's up! I am from a town, from Calzada de Calatrava, a small place, I think we did not reach 5,000 inhabitants. I studied at the public school there, everything was very normal and very calm. Luckily there weren't these dramas [laughs].

From a town, but from one well located on the map. And what products does the land give. Do you know Pedro Almodóvar? I don't know him, but I've seen him at an event here in Madrid. I have never approached him to say anything because he gives me a lot of respect. I admire what he does so much, I'd be ashamed of him. But I would love to meet him, talk to him and maybe work together in the future... Can you imagine? That would be a dream for me. I hope it happens.

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El despertar de Manu Ríos, la nueva estrella de Élite

Pedrooooooo! Write this name down on your list of possible future signings because the boy, in addition to being handsome, has the manners of an actor. And as long as you can, you promote your land... Manu's career hasn't been built overnight. It is true that entering the Elite universe is going to be quite an awakening when half the planet sees him in action [we will have to watch how his number of followers rises when they discover him in America], but his comes from afar. Son of a hairdresser and an electrician, he says that at the age of 5 he sang, danced and did performances with his mother's clients as an audience. "Manoli, I'm telling you the truth, your son has to dedicate himself to this," he remembers what they said. His early vocation and his talent led him to the Castilla-La Mancha TV program Cántame lo quepasado. He also competed as a dancer in Tú si que vales and was the red token, that is, the main one, of the renowned musical group Parchís. Don Pepito and Les Miserables are some of the musicals on his resume.

I see that you have always had it very clear. Have you never wanted to be someone else? I also wanted to be a professor and teach, but that soon passed [laughs]. I've always liked being in front of a camera: acting, dancing, singing..., although I've also done a lot of soccer and karate. That's why I studied classical dance and hip-hop, and traveled to Boston to train as a musician. I have always had many concerns and the luck that my father, camera in hand, recorded everything he did for me and we uploaded it to YouTube. That's where my community started when I was a kid. From here I thank everyone who follows me.

What about fashion and design? As my mother is a hairdresser, I have always attached great importance to aesthetics. Now I even design jewelry with a lot of cool together with some friends: TwoJeys.

Your fetish brands? Dior, Prada, Loewe... combined with low-cost.

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If you could choose, what would be your next project? To draw a disc. I hope I have time to compose something for the Elite T5 and star in a movie with a theme in which I can contribute. I was very moved by Call me by your name, and Black Swan is one of my favorites. Also do more TV, return to the theater...

And while those projects arrive, what do you spend your free time doing? I don't have a lot of free time right now because we're shooting the fifth season of Elite. As I was saying, I would like to find a place to compose, get into the studio and discover my sound, the topics I want to talk about. When I find some calm I will.

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Many of your followers discovered you as a child on YouTube uploading covers of your favorite artists, like that Where have you been by Rihanna. Did you ever think that you would end up becoming one of the Spaniards with the most followers in the world? No, never. I started as a child to sing, to make musicals and to participate in television programs related to music. When I discovered YouTube I started uploading my videos and from there I went to Instagram. I was also very interested in photography, modeling, so I shared all my artistic facets without any expectations... But it is true that I put a lot of effort into it. And since I still lived in the village and didn't have the help of professional photographers, it was my father who was always there.

And now, with almost 6 million followers, do you manage your social networks yourself or do you have a team behind you? I manage all my social networks because it is the best way to show myself as I am. I decide what I want to publish and what no, what I want to talk about and what I don't. I decide everything. I think it's the most honest way to do this job because the people who follow me, follow me, not a team they know nothing about. It seems fair to me.

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Then I imagine that you will be glued to the mobile all day. Not so much, because seeing so much information and so much about the lives of others sometimes saturates me. I go for days. If I'm a bit bored, a bit gossipy and more perrete, I give myself to the rrss without measure. When I'm working on other things, I disconnect. I am pending, but I do not abuse. I recommend putting certain barriers and times so you don't go crazy. Social networks offer too much information and it distracts you from doing other more productive things.

Who does the man follow most often? A lot of interesting people. I follow Zendaya, Timothée Chalament… They are my acting references. I have many other classics, but I like to highlight what people so young, so talented and with such clear ideas do.

Who would you sit at the table with at the dinner of your dreams? Definitely Lana del Rey, not only because she is an incredible artist, but because I think she is a very interesting girl who would tell me a thousand things to learn from . I love her music, everything that her songs say, her lyrics, I think she is a woman who has a lot of inner world.

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The last time I cried and why. It was coming back from work because I had a very hard day shooting at night, with some scenes that were costing me a little more and I had to put a lot of weight on my emotions. Anyway, when I got home, I broke down and started crying, and I'm not one to cry a lot, really... In fact, I'd like to cry more because I'm one of those who keeps things inside. It was very good for me at the time. I also missed my parents and was very emotional. It was like like a month ago.

And your last drunk? I'm so focused on work that I don't even remember, but I do remember the first one. That night I had a sore throat and I had never drunk alcohol. Then a friend told me that they were going to get us some shots of Jäguer that had ginger and that that would be great for my throat. And I said, "Come on, okay." And one fell, another and another (laughs)… The last thing I remember is being twerking around the disco with total loss of control. That was my first drunk, but the next day my throat was perfect (laughs). But alcohol with limits, eh? What if you don't lose your mind?

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Photography assistant Bosco García Grooming Ricardo Calero Styling assistant Blanca Hidalgo Production Mariana González

*This article appears in the July-August 2021 issue of Esquire magazine

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