By Winter Flack
Back in New Mexico, after traveling the country, RJ Mitte feels like he returned home. Here in Albuquerque for Albuquerque Comic Expo (ACE), Mitte has a smile on his face, but the expo isn’t the only thing that has bought him back to the Land of Enchantment. He has a new project in the pipeline that is close to his heart, out here in the beautiful southwest.
Mitte first time out as an executive producer is for the film, Vanished: The Tara Calico Story. Having known the family of this nineteen year old who went missing without a trace, Mitte wanted to help bring peace to this small town in New Mexico and bring closure to the families involved in the 25 year-old mystery. Tara Calico of Belen, New Mexico disappeared one day while riding her bike never to be seen or heard from again. “Having a little sister, and knowing this could happened to her, made me want to bring awareness to people of the danger”. This project differs in so many ways from what people know RJ Mitte for. He’s not acting or being a spokesperson. He is helping to give a voice to someone who hasn’t had one in a long time. In the film he made it clear that the people they interview will do the talking and provide evidence. There will be no fancy editing or trying to point blame on his of the project, his goal, to bring truth to light for this missing girl and her family and closure to a cold case. Not what most people would expect from Walter White’s on screen son, but he did start out on Hannah Montana so he has a soft spot for Disney endings when ever possible.
At the ripe old age of twelve RJ moved with his family from Texas to LA so his younger sister could pursue a career in Hollywood. Initially all RJ planned for his Los Angeles adventure was to go to school and make some friends, but one day while looking for a new agent for his sister he received a proposal he couldn’t refuse. The agent wanted him to work in Hollywood. To RJ amazement he began doing background on tween televisions show while take acting lesson four times a week. “It was a whirlwind”. With in six months he landed a role on A&E’s Breaking Bad. He played Walter White JR the son of soon to be drug king pin of Albuquerque Walter White SR. The character suffered from a minor case of cerebral palsy like RJ himself.
The pilot for Breaking Bad will always be RJ’s favorite episode even through there were so many great times on the set. The first episode everyone knew they had something special going. “It was such a wealth of knowledge to work such amazing people.” Breaking Bad will always hold a special place in the hearts of the fans and the people who worked on the show. It was the first show of it’s kind, even promoting a funeral for the main character of the show, a fundraiser for healthcare for the homeless.
RJ also used the recognition he garnered from the show to speak out about cerebral palsy and how disabilities can affect people. “I don’t really think about it (cerebral palsy), in all honest”. He just wants to be seen as RJ doing whatever RJ is doing at the moment, he never took into account his disability. In his latest role on ABC Family’s Switch at Birth RJ plays a character confined to a wheel chair. “My new role I’m playing a paraplegic, I’m progressively getting worse”. Playing a paraplegic on set opened RJ eyes to how differently people with physical disabilities are treated by some. He’s not worried about being type cast in the role, because he makes the decisions on what roles he takes and when.
In the spirit of ACE RJ thinks he would make a great super villain. He wants to keep growing creating and trying new things whenever he can. When asked what he wants to leave behind for a legacy “I will always be a Breaking Bad kid. I already have a legacy even though it might fade”. Beyond Breaking Bad RJ wants to make a positive difference in the world and make sure his family is always provided for.
Growing changing and moving forward I the focus of RJ Mitte’s life, but he will always have a soft spot for his second home here in Albuquerque, and it will always have a soft spot for him. New Mexico hopes to see RJ back here again and again over his career in all the different roles he will be playing.
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