HollywoodLife spoke with ‘On My Block’ star Jason Genao about the heartbreaking Ruby and Jamal look seen around the world, the rise of Ruby and Jasmine, and more in our EXCLUSIVE interview.
While the big Cesar reveal in the On My Block season 3 finale time jump definitely shocked fans, it was the look between Ruby and Jamal that hit fans the hardest. At school, Ruby and Jamal share a brief glance that’s absolutely heartbreaking. Jamal, surrounded by his football player buddies, looks at Ruby a little longingly, while Ruby remains strong while walking with Jasmine. This scene showed the Core Four is officially over — for now.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Jason Genao about filming that scene and Ruby’s viewpoint. He admitted that he thinks “something big” must have happened to split up the Core Four in such a major way. Jason also opened up about Ruby and Jasmine’s relationship and why they’re better for each other than Monse and Cesar. Check out our full Q&A below.
That final moment with Ruby and Jamal was heartbreaking. Jamal seems sad but I can’t figure out my read on Ruby. What were you trying to convey in that moment?
Jason Genao: Well, I remember when we shot that scene. They told us, “You’re going to do it twice. We’re going to do it where you look at him, and then you don’t look at him.” So in her just telling me that — where I don’t even acknowledge him — I think that I sort of tried to convey that I’m completely over the situation. I was with Jasmine. I have this new girlfriend. I think there’s this entire sense of happiness around Ruby. I think he’s settled in the happiness that he has. I’m sure it affects him. I’m positive about that, but I just don’t think it affects him as much. I also like to think that that story has more to do with Ruby being okay with what happens.
So I’ve talked to Diego [Tinoco] and I’ve talked to the co-creators about the Core Four split, and it seems like there’s something deeper there with Ruby and Jamal. Do you think there was a big moment that split them up for good?
Jason Genao: I mean, it has to be something big. These kids are childhood friends. You don’t just let go of these people so easily. Growing up, I’ve lost touch with people who I was really close with because we lost contact or distance, but for them to be going to the same school and have that distance, that makes me think that something really big happened. It’s like if Monse falls out with the crew, it’s because she’s at a different school and there’s not much you can do. I have to think that something really big happened for you to want to distance yourself when you’re still so close to each other physically.
The Core Four is now broken up. Granted, this is a TV show and if there is a season 4, they probably will find their way back to each other. But do you think the Core Four will ever be as close as they were?
Jason Genao: I think, just speaking generally from experience, I know there are certain friendships that when you reignite them, it’s like nothing is lost when you find that center again. I hope that’s how Ruby and Jamal are. If they get past that and if there is a season 4 and they have to somehow come together, hopefully, they find a way to center themselves and be those friends again. Because those are the types of friendships where, even if it’s lost, it finds its way back completely.
Considering they’ve gone through their fair share of trauma over the past 3 seasons, that break might have been good for them. I think when you’re always in that headspace, it’s not good for anyone. There were so many aspects to that time jump but was there one that really shocked you the most?
Jason Genao: I had no idea that Spooky was going to have a family. That was not in the script. I remember it said, “Spooky’s barbecuing with family.” I didn’t know that meant a pregnant woman in the backyard. I was so shocked by that. I was also pretty shocked by the whole season’s ending.
Ruby went off on Cesar in the finale. Do you think that was the breaking point for them?
Jason Genao: I don’t think so. I mean, Ruby goes off on everyone all the time. He’s going off on Spooky and on Jasmine. I don’t think that [was the breaking point] because then they continue and essentially watch this woman die, so I think that might have been what has to do with it. I don’t know. I just think that’s so in his character. We’re all risking our lives. That’s not just a reaction, that might be a general reaction. I don’t look at that as the breaking point. If we get a season 4, I’m really excited to explore that because for there to be a 2-year gap and there be no reparations through it, I think something else happens. I know, for the most part, it is their first dead body. It’s their Boyz n the Hood moment. I think there’s a little bit more to it, but I think the whole dead body part is a lot of it. I’d like to see it explored more in season 4 for sure.
I feel like Ruby is the most realistic of the Core Four in a sense. When Monse leaves, I feel like Ruby knows it’s never going to be the same.
Jason Genao: I think so, too. With Monse leaving, I think that was a big change that isn’t supposed to happen because all of the changes have been happening within them are things they can work with or work against, like Cesar being in the gang. It’s all about unity and what they can do together. But then when Monse pulls that unity out of them and she’s going far enough to where they can’t be the Core Four anymore, I think that also takes a big toll on the crew.
Season 3 featured Ruby and Jasmine finally getting together. Why do you think Ruby and Jasmine are right for each other?
Jason Genao: Ruby and Jasmine are the same person in different bodies. The bossiness, the sass, the having to get things done in a certain manner and in the Ruby or Jasmine way. They are the same person.
Monse and Caesar have broken up and gotten back together so many times, but Ruby and Jasmine are still together after 2 years. Were you surprised by that?
Jason Genao: No. I like to think that they took it really slow. After that kiss in the bedroom, they weren’t immediately together. I like to think it was this whole stage where they were like, “Let’s start it out and let’s work on it.” I don’t think it was an entire 2-year relationship off the bat. But at the same time, I’m not surprised. They live across the street from each other. You can’t go nowhere, and they work so well with each other. What’s the point of not being together when you find someone who’s good for you? I think that’s a testament to Cesar and Monse. I think Monse was too good for Cesar. Cesar was a little too caught up in the things that were surrounding him, and Monse wanted to protect him from those things. She was just a little too good for him, in my perspective. That’s why it didn’t work out. It’s like someone giving 80 and another person giving 20. That’s never going to work. But then Ruby and Jasmine, it’s like 50-50. We are couple goals.
Season 4 isn’t official yet, but as a fan, I have very high hopes. The show has explored so much in just 3 seasons. Is there anything you would want to explore with Ruby that the show hasn’t yet?
Jason Genao: I think Ruby’s storyline is so amazing on its own. I don’t like to overstep my boundaries and say what Ruby should be or should have in the future. I do know that I want him to explore his PTSD, which is still ongoing. Knowing people who actually have it in my family, it just doesn’t go away. For it to just subside would kind of suck because that’s the kind of thing that you deal with forever. I think writers are so creative and so good at what they do. It’s always been things that I could never come up with.
I do think that exploring more of Ruby’s PTSD is important because I feel that is such a major aspect of his character. One of my favorite scenes was the one between Ruby and Monse when she breaks down over her mom. She confesses that she feels numb to it all and Ruby’s really there for her. I felt like that was such a great moment for them and such a real moment considering what they’ve all been through.
Jason Genao: I loved that moment. That was one of my favorite scenes. I remember they were like, “Can you cry for us? Just cry in the scene.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll try.” But they were giving so much coverage to Sierra [Capri] that by the time they got to me, I got like one or two takes so I couldn’t do it that quickly. Something came about in the words and I don’t cry in the scene, but Ruby has this sense of emotion even without the physical tears. I really liked that scene because I really felt the words that Ruby was saying on an internal spectrum.