With 4 Guinness World Records To His Name, Ozuna Is Ready To Take On A New Challenge: Acting

 OzunaPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia



OzunaPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia 

When I get on the phone with Ozuna, he says he’s in the middle of the ocean. I think he’s joking — who does interviews while he’s chilling on a private yacht in the middle of the sea? — but soon realize my error. Because really, what better place could there be for such a massive international star (a four-time Guinness World Record holder, no less) to do one?

But here’s the thing: despite his fame and fortune, it isn’t hard to imagine Juan Carlos Ozuna Rosado as the boy next door. He laughs a lot. He’s humble. He’s grateful. He’s nice. And he’s able to admit that he’s not perfect. Because while the 29-year-old reggaeton and trap singer may be at the top of his game now, there’s a part of him that will always be that hoodie-wearing kid from San Juan, Puerto Rico, young and hungry, ready to prove himself to the world.

As time has shown, he’s done that already, in spades. “Imaginando,” his 2012 debut single, led to a contract with Sony Music Latin in 2017, four consecutive studio albums and collaborations with the likes of Selena Gomez, Cardi B, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Nicky Jam, Jennifer Lopez, Post Malone, Snoop Dogg, Tyga, Sia and Doja Cat. He’s been immortalized in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart for Odisea (46); most Billboard Latin Music Award wins for a single artist in a single year (11); most Billboard Latin Music Award nominations for a single artist in a single year (23); and artist with the most videos to reach one billion views on YouTube (7).

And the list goes on. He was just honored with the “Extraordinary Evolution” award at the Latin American Music Awards; was named BMI’s Contemporary Latin Songwriter of the Year (for the second time this year); released his collaborative album Los Dioses with his friend Anuel AA, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Latin Albums chart; was awarded the Silver and Gold Seagull awards at the prestigious Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Chile; was one of the most-nominated artists at the Premio Lo Nuestro; was one of the 10 most-streamed male artists in any genre on Spotify in 2020; is one of the top 10 worldwide artists on YouTube; has won two Latin Grammys, five Billboard Music Awards and 12 Billboard Latin Music Awards; and made Time’s Most Influential People list in 2019. Since the beginning of his career, he has sold over 15 million records, making him one of the best-selling Latin music artists of all time.

But it wasn’t enough.

OzunaPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia

With the music community already under his spell, Ozuna decided to take on another challenge: acting.

On June 25, the world will officially become his stage when he appears in his first-ever blockbuster, F9, the latest Fast & Furious franchise film. Though this isn’t his acting debut — that would be 2018’s Que León, an indie out of the Dominican Republic — it’s certainly his biggest movie to date, and the most challenging, given that the part was in English, which is not his native tongue. 

“For me, it’s the best experience I’ve had in my career, for real,” he proclaims earnestly and enthusiastically. “It’s different from anything I’ve tried before, and different from what I do in music completely. It’s almost like going to school again: you need to study the part, you need to go into the character.”

While he remains mum about his role, I learn this: Ozuna is playing the younger version of Don Omar’s character, Rico Santos, a street racer from the Dominican Republic who aligns himself with Dominic Toretto (star Vin Diesel) in the earlier Fast & Furious films. Diesel himself fueled the rumors about Ozuna’s hush-hush and reportedly small but mighty role when he posted a shot of the two alongside director Justin Lin on Instagram last May with the caption: “As you know, we have often found great talent in the music industry to cross over into film. They are expected to leave all the accolades at the door to embrace the character with integrity…and that is exactly what Ozuna has done. Very proud of your work and role in Fast 9. Pa Mi Gente! All Love, Always.” He concluded with a series of hashtags, including — drumroll, please — #YoungSantos.

But “O” (as his friends refer to him) isn’t about to break any confidentially clauses. “It’s private! But it’s a good character. For me, it’s the best opportunity, because it’s another step up in my career.”

Will he be back for F10? Only time will tell. “I want to go back!” he declares. So if Universal Pictures comes calling, count him in — he’ll be there faster than you can say “hot wheels.” Plus, now he’s officially a member of the tight-knit F&F crew, which, in addition to Diesel, includes Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Charlize Theron, Nathalie Emmanuel and John Cena. “I got into the family,” he laughs. “And you know I’m all about family.”

OzunaPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia
While contractually he’s unable to share much about his uber-secret role, what Ozuna can reveal is that he’s officially been bitten by the acting bug. “I 
want to do more movies,” he says. “I like acting, and I’ve got different opportunities now to do more of it.”

Specifically, he’d like to focus on action and drama — maybe even romance — but definitely something else in the English-language space. And during this rare time when he doesn’t have a world tour going on, he’s getting to indulge his creative passion to tackle something new.
While he vows that he’s planning on shooting two or three films before the year is out, his devoted fans need not worry — he’s not giving up music anytime soon. His fifth album is imminent. “I don’t have a date for the album just yet, but I do have different singles and different collabs with different people coming out,” he says.

Hopefully this will mollify his fans, who are hungry for another album. His latest, “Tiempo,” was released in early May, reminding people to make time for the things they love (which is probably why he’s currently on a boat — mixing business and pleasure is definitely his strong suit).
Of his first single of 2021, he says, “I wanted to do something a little different from [singles] ‘Taki Taki’ and ‘Mamacita,’ different from [albums] Los Dioses and ENOC. I needed to go back to old-school Ozuna, because that’s what the people want. So I’ve got this single on the street right now, but I’ve got something different planned for later in the year.”

He’s got big plans, this one. He’s always trying to up his game, beat his best effort. Because he remembers where he came from — those days struggling in his hometown of San Juan, and the equally difficult days trying to make a name for himself on the mean streets of New York, where he moved for three years from 2010 to 2013 before returning to Puerto Rico. But while he may have gone home again, he isn’t going back to the life he once led. Ever.

“Like, damn. I’ve got the drive to go to the next level, because I see the end of my career; I see the days where my career is over,” he says. “I see the day where, yo, nobody is listening to my music anymore. Nobody’s got Ozuna on the radio. So I’m taking things year by year, level by level, and I’m going hard. I don’t know what the next year will bring, so I work for today to go to that next level.”

So maybe he’s on a boat today, but this is not an all play and no work situation. Or is it? Because he loves everything he’s doing, everything about his life, and that makes for a rare situation — one where work and life converge.

“You know what? I sleep four hours a day, so really, I don’t sleep. I think, ‘You have time for everything. You have time for movies, for doing music.’ I don’t have [concerts] right now, so I can try new things — and that, for me, is huge. Because you work when you love it, and if you don’t love your work, you won’t do it, because it’s not the best vibe for you.”

And as I’m beginning to realize, the “New King of Reggaeton,” as he’s known to many, and “el negrito de los ojos claros”(the Black guy with the light eyes), as he’s known to others, is all about good vibes.

OzunaPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia

Since Ozuna hit the big time, no year has been the same. He’s been touring the world, hopping from place to place. Japan, Italy, Chile… if you can name it, he has done it. But with so much excitement and variation, he has learned to find comfort in consistency. And when he’s at his second home in Miami, he’s a total creature of habit. Every day, without fail, he heads to Bistro Café, a popular Puerto Rican breakfast spot downtown, or has its food delivered. His choices aren’t always the same (some days it’s pancakes, some days he feels like waffles with cornflakes), nor is the company (sometimes he’s with his kids, and sometimes he’s without), but the venue never changes.

This is hardly the first time he’s sought uniformity in his career. In fact, it’s how he created his logo, his signature, a teddy bear wearing a hoodie. Which, in my opinion, suits him to a T. There’s a sweetness to Ozuna that makes his teddy bear logo so completely appropriate.

“The teddy bear — that’s a long story,” he laughs. “When I was doing my first world tour in 2016, my daughter, Sofía, gave me this bear for a gift. She said, ‘Yo, papi, that will go with you wherever you go on your tour.’ And I sent the picture to my graphic artist and said, ‘I need something with this logo.’ And now people say, ‘You’re the bear, you’re the bear.’ They love the bear. If you look at old pictures from that year, you’ll see the bear in a corner, in every photo. I still have it in my house, the [original] bear that my girl gave me. That bear is the blessing for my career.”

It reveals a lot about Ozuna that he would bring a stuffed animal his daughter gave him on tour and tote it around publicly and unapologetically. Family is the most important thing, and it always comes first.

“[The greatest luxury in my life] is my family. My kids — damn, they’re my life. I work for my family. Everything I do is for them, for real.”

Except get a minivan. That Ozuna will not do. (Just kidding — I’m pretty sure he’d get one if he absolutely had to, and, what’s more, he’d trick it out to make it Fast & Furious-worthy.) Instead, he has a dozen-plus car collection of the sleekest rides around. He buys one a year, sometimes more. Multiple Porsches, including the 911 Turbo S, GT2 and GT3, and a slew of Ferraris. And, while it isn’t a minivan, he also has something appropriate — what he refers to as a “different vibe” — to drive his kids to school. 

He collects watches the same way he collects cars, except on a much, much larger scale. His current collection tops out at over 75 pieces, and he has no intention of slowing down. “For me, the watches are a reward,” he says. “If I have a song that’s a hit, I buy some watches. It’s the best boy’s toy. I’ve got watches to wear to bed, everyday watches, orange watches, blue watches. I have watches for different moments. I’m a collector. I love Rolex, Richard Mille, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Tiffany & Co. — you name it, I have it. But I also like and buy the things that aren’t as much money, like Bulova and Seiko.”

When I ask if he has a hands-down, ride-or-die favorite, he bursts into a flurry of Spanish, which, translated, means: “He loves them all.” He can’t pick a favorite (or won’t), but does allow that he has some pieces that are absolutely crazy, one-of-a-kind, the-only-one-in-the-world kind of special.

Despite his luxury tastes — and who could blame him, given that he didn’t grow up with much (he frankly admits that he grew up poor and was predominantly raised by his grandmother in the eponymous opening track from his debut album, Odisea) — Ozuna is definitely a humble guy.

“The riches are the reward, but they’re not who I am,” he declares, explaining that the real reason he’s managed to become so successful is, in fact, his humility. “The secret to my success is my outlook on life and making sure that I’m a good [role model]. Everybody has bad days, but it’s not their fault. There are kids who look at what you’re doing on YouTube, kids who listen to your music and see you in the street, so you need to be the best you that you can be, and work with the best artists. I’m relatable. I’m a regular guy. I stay humble.”

Let’s not forget — Ozuna is only 29. He’s still a kid himself in many ways. But he’s already planning how to reach new heights in his thirties (a decade he’ll reach on March 13, 2022).

“I see my thirties as being on another level. I’ve got two kids, I’ve got family, and I see life differently now. When I started — I’ve got six years in the game — I started with something different than I have today. When I started, I didn’t know who was listening to my music. I would put out music so that I could feed my family; I knew that [some of it] wasn’t the best. But now I want to do my best work. Six years in, I’m doing something bigger than I ever dreamed I could. But [now] I’m not dreaming.

“Today,” he continues, “I have everything. Every song I’m doing around the world, the awards I get; people love me. I feel like I’m on another level. That for me is so huge. And I’m not dreaming anymore; it’s reality. You know what I’m saying?”

There’s only one final obstacle in his way, but even briefly getting to know Ozuna, I’m already aware that it won’t be an obstacle for long. He says with certainty, with conviction (and, of course, with his typical laughter), “I don’t have the best English, but I’m working on it, so don’t worry. I’m ready. Next year, I’m going to get it right.”

Somehow, methinks he already has.

OzunaPhoto Credit: Nick Garcia