‘On My Block’ star Jason Genao breaks down that pivotal meeting between Ruby and Latrelle, which season 4 death hit him the hardest, and Ruby and Jasmine’s future.
The final season of On My Block brought everything full circle. Ruby finally faced Latrelle in prison during season 4’s eighth episode. Ruby nearly died after Latrelle shot him in the season 1 finale. The bullet that went through Ruby actually killed Olivia. Ruby struggled in the aftermath of the shooting, experiencing PTSD.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jason Genao about Ruby getting closure with Latrelle years later. He also weighed in on Abuelita’s death, the final scene of the series, and why Ruby and Jasmine are each other’s “match.” Read our Q&A below:
One of the best scenes of the final season was Ruby going to see Latrelle. That was such a pivotal moment for Ruby. Do you think he got the closure that he needed by going to see him?
Jason Genao: I think so. I think the closer more so came from he has that talk with him but then Latrelle opens up about how he’s also going through his own things, how his mother never visits him, and whatnot. I think that closure for me, just as a human…if someone was to do something to me, I feel like you’d wish all the negative things upon them, but then when you realize that they’re not this super evil person and that they do have things against them as well, I feel like that opens you up to have this sort of sentiment for them as well. I feel like with that Ruby got his closure in knowing that Latrelle isn’t this ultimately horrible person with no repercussions and that everything bad only ever happened to Ruby.
I wanted to ask about that final moment between them when Ruby says, “Is there anything I can do for you?” and Latrelle says, “Can you keep me from turning 18?” Maybe there was a look on your face that made me think this moment will propel Ruby to do something about helping kids in communities like this from getting caught up in the gang life. It sort of gave me hope that Ruby would maybe do something to help kids like Latrelle in the future.
Jason Genao: I don’t know. I think that Ruby is so affected by what happened. They always talk about how Ruby is going to own his own tax business or some sort of business. That’s like what Ruby’s always geared towards, but I don’t know, I think you could be right. I think Ruby is one of those people so affected that he could take on multiple things. Like one of the head counselors of a certain youth group or something. I just feel like that’s a Ruby thing to do.
Do you think Ruby has completely forgiven Latrelle?
Jason Genao: I want to say Ruby completely forgave him because I feel like that was the last piece of closure that he needed, but I feel like he got so much closure through Jas and through his friends. There are so many more parts of closure that Ruby needed that weren’t a thing necessary to be given by Latrelle. I feel like it all happened for him right before Latrelle and growing up and becoming an adult. This is two years later, so I feel like when he walks away from Latrelle, he has full closure. We see that because he isn’t crying every other episode. He doesn’t need Jasmine’s shoulder now. He has these other things to think about like prom king and student president and his other friends and what Monse is doing and Cesar and Jasmine. I feel like, finally, he doesn’t wake up like he did in season 2 and has this attitude, this hatred towards the world because he felt like the world did something to him. Now he’s finally moving on, and he has this real-life to focus on.
Speaking of Jasmine, Ruby and Jasmine went through quite a roller coaster in the final season. By the end of the show, Ruby and Jasmine are back they’re back together. Do you think they stay together?
Jason Genao: I mean, I’d like to think that they do. They are going to different schools, but I love the fact that Ruby and Jasmine are just this thing that worked so well together. I think it was this infatuation that started from Jasmine, and now it’s turned into that they’re each other’s match — comedic match, dramatic match. They help each other and when things go crazy, Jasmine is the perfect partner for Ruby. It becomes this spy team duo for anything necessary. They’ve worked so well together in all aspects. I will say that I wish Ruby was nicer to her. But ultimately, I want to say that they do end up together because they work so well on every other level, past the infatuation and the I like you sexually type thing. They work so well in every scenario.
Was there ever a line or a scene between you two that you could barely get through? Every time you guys were on screen together, especially when Ruby thought Jasmine was seeing someone else, it was just effortless comedy.
Jason Genao: Yes. Oh my God. There’s that one scene where we’re in her room, and I don’t know what I’m doing, I forgot but they released the pictures, and I’m like lifting the weights. That scene was this improvised scene where they’re like, “She’s going to turn around. Jason, just do something that’s getting her attention.” I did like 20 different things, and it’s something with the weights. I did something where I had her glasses on, and I think her fanny pack. There were so many different ones that they didn’t use. We literally had to leave the room to catch our breath. It was so funny. They really just let us play this season.
Between Oscar and Abuelita, which death hit you the hardest?
Jason Genao: Abuelita’s just because when we got season 1, we only got the first 9 episodes. It was the last week of filming and Lauren, Eddie, and Jeremy were like, “Something big is going to happen. We want you guys to know something big is going to happen.” And then Lauren pulled me aside and she’s like, “Jason, something big is going to happen, especially to you. I just want you to know that we love you so much and blah blah blah.” I’m like, “Oh my God.” I never thought that it’d be a death because I was so young and naive. I just didn’t think anything could happen to me that could have any effect on me still being in the show. There was always this rumor that either I was going to pass away, or that we were going to win the lottery. That was the rumor floating around. So when it didn’t happen, it was like, thank God, but that always lingered with me that something could happen because shows love to take the older character and play with your emotions so much. I felt like when Oscar died, I was super surprised but not really because I feel leading up to like him getting that perfect end was sort of too good. I’m like, Lauren, Eddie, and Jeremy wouldn’t let that happen. This isn’t the type of show where fairy tales just go and happen to the people that don’t, I want to say in a sense, deserve it. Even though, I think he deserves it but just in TV world. But when it happened to Abuelita and when it happened so soon, it was episode 2 and she was like, “Don’t tell Ruby I have cancer.” It was like you were just waiting for this thing, but you kind of knew episode 2. I was crushed so quickly.
I knew in episode 2 that I was in for a season of crying. Do you think Ruby wishes he found out earlier, or do you think he knew at the end that he found out at the right time?
Jason Genao: I think the reason why Abuelita didn’t tell him and Jamal kept the secret is because I don’t think Ruby could have known earlier because Ruby’s the type of person where he would have called every doctor and did everything he needed to do. He would get all the weird things and look online where someone would tell him to eat 15 coconuts or whatever. This is someone’s grandmother and she is older and it is sad, but it is inevitable. I think what Ruby needed was for it to happen purely and just the way that it happens in life, without him trying to fight the world because I think he would have had that resentment again. He would have been saying, I did everything I could have, and then nothing happened because inevitably she did pass away. I think Ruby found out just in time. She got too sick for anything to happen and she passed. And it was just like the parts of life that Ruby can now understand because he’s older and mature from everything that he’s gone through.
Abuelita does leave a map. Her legacy lives on. It has to be a map to RollerWorld, right?
Jason Genao: I believe that it is RollerWorld. I think On My Block left with one of the greatest and most painful endings I’ve ever seen in TV history because this is the season finale, and it created an entirely new show within itself for this entire need for more On My Block. With that map, it was like something so horrible that I was like, it’s the last season, the last episode, and now we have this entire new piece of the puzzle.
Do you think they ended up following the map?
Jason Genao: I like to think it’s one of those things that keeps them together, even throughout their adulthood. Ultimately, it’s money. That’s what RollerWorld secretly holds, and at whatever age you’re going to want to go after something that they tell you there’s $250,000 in there. So I think they go after it and they try for however long.
When the season began, the show was already in the midst of a two-year time jump. The Core Four were no longer friends, and the whole season was a journey of them finding their way back to each other. Given the ups and downs of life, do you think that these four and Jasmine stay friends?
Jason Genao: I don’t know. They’ve gone through murder. They’ve gone through so much there. I don’t think there is a reason to not be friends. But then again, I know that the closest people to me when I was in high school are some of the people that I don’t talk to that much today. Our paths are so different, like Cesar and Monse. Going to different colleges I think really affects the ability to stay in each other’s lives. I’d like to say that they try. Life happens and I know how that’s affected me personally. So I like to think that, naturally, they go on to be the best versions of themselves that they could be without that need for the friendship to keep them in Freeridge.
Was your reaction to getting crowned prom king scripted? The scream killed me.
Jason Genao: Um, none of it was scripted.
That is amazing.
Jason Genao: I think the only thing that was scripted was the “I won. I’m the motherf**king king.” We were all shocked because Netflix never let us get the F-word. I think they gave us one or two, and then this season we got two. The first one was Diego, and then I got the second one. We were like, “Oh my God. We get to say this?” But everything else, I just started acting crazy. I was like, “Lauren, I’m going to do some crazy stuff.” Lauren was like, “Do it. Do it. Do it.” I went and I drank a Red Bull, I remember. I asked Brett, “Can you stand here? I’m going to push you.” Brett’s down for whatever, so then everything else just culminated, like the push, the scream. I don’t know if they used it, but there’s one take where I’m like screaming to my mom, like, “Mom, I did it!” Again, that was one of those scenes where I just did a million different things and let them choose whatever they want.
That final scene with the core for mirrored the very first episode of the show. Do you think that was On My Block’s way of passing the baton to the spinoff in a sense? What was the last scene that you guys filmed and what was that goodbye moment like for you?
Jason Genao: So the last scene was Abuelita’s toast at the house and seeing the kids over the fence, which I think was only the second season where we filmed something in order. I know season 3 we filmed the last episode the first day because people needed haircuts and hair changes and all of that. It was amazing to have everybody back on set. They brought Amber back. They brought all these little odes to season 1 and 2 and 3 back. It was amazing to have everybody there and be with everyone. It was really a party. I remember Lauren so many times being like, “Guys, we still got to get through this.” Everybody was just there trying to have the best time that they could the last day. It was also a night shoot, so we’re super exhausted. We wrapped up at like four in the morning. As much as we wanted to say goodbye and cry we were all like, “Okay. Can I go home now?” We’re just all so close it was sad to say goodbye to the show, but there wasn’t this empty feeling of saying goodbye to each other. Me and Brett and Sierra and all of us still text. I don’t think it really hit any of us and still now it hasn’t hit me that I’ll never play Ruby again. But it’s never going to hit me that I’ll never see my cast again because we’ve just become such a family. There’s this thing where I still don’t feel the Ruby aspect, but I’m never going to really feel the cast aspect.
It’s no secret what that On My Block has done for the representation of Brown and Black communities on television, especially in the teen genre. What has it meant to you to be a part of that legacy?
Jason Genao: When I started acting, I never really saw the matter of lack of representation, because it wasn’t that I wanted to see people who look like me onscreen. It was more so that I was always immersed in this world of what were the best movies? I would Google, what are the best projects? What are the best movies? Who are the best actors? Meryl Streep would pop up and Hugh Jackman. The people that pop up, pop up, so when I became an actor, I realized that those projects didn’t exist for me, that quality of project. It wasn’t like looking for myself in them. I didn’t really think, oh, Jason, you can’t do it because of the way you look. It was more so Jason, you’re going to do it because you’re going to be as good of an actor. I was so naive. And now looking at On My Block, I think I’m most grateful because we see so many shows that have people of color and whatnot, but they come off as just a general laugh or something sort of cheesy or whatnot. I think On My Block just really broke the mold because it held this echelon of amazing quality. I think that’s what it did so differently. It became one of the top-quality projects that immersed us and the people of color into the same bracket as all the other things that the critics were watching and cared about and were raving about. So it now holds this standard, not just for us, but for the people who are creating the projects, who are greenlighting projects, and who financing these things to know that when something like this exists and does well, it allows you to believe that something else can be created from that. I think that’s one of the most important aspects for me, allowing us to exist in the same world of where people consider great cinema to exist.