Mexican movie star Eduardo Verástegui on Wednesday visited Gatesville Prison in Gatesville, Texas to tell prisoners how acting in the movie Bella inspired him to change his way of life and gave him a second chance.
The visit is part of a new program called Jose’s Second Chance, based on the lead character of Jose in the movie Bella. The character was given a second chance after a tragic accident resulted in his imprisonment.
“During my preparation for this role, I realized I was not the man that I had been raised to be and that I wanted to be,” Verástegui said before the visit.
The movie star explained that playing the role of Jose convinced him he could change his ways and “lead a life that I could be proud of” in both his public and private life.
“I've dedicated my acting career to only portraying men that are heroes--not like Batman or Superman--but real heroes,” he continued. “Men who are hard- working, men of faith, men who are faithful to their wives … men like my father, and to stop perpetuating stereotypes often associated with Latino actors.
“The next act of our lives has not been written. We can write those chapters by the decisions we make and I want to share this truth with those I will meet today," the famous Mexican actor said.
Verástegui appeared at the prison at the invitation of Christian prison ministry Discipleship Unlimited.
Jose’s Second Chance is a program launched by the Human Rights, Education and Relief Organization (HERO) in partnership with Manto de Guadalupe, a Los Angeles-based non-profit.
HERO founder Jason Jones, who also was a producer for Bella, joined Verástegui at the prison, where Bella was shown prior to their visit.
“We are grateful for the impact that Bella has made on people,” Jones commented in a press release before going to the prison. He claimed that the movie has saved many lives.
“We are excited to share it in this new setting where it can be a real instrument of healing,” he continued.
“At the core of all that HERO does is a recognition and respect for the intrinsic dignity of every human person. Sadly, that simple truth is often forgotten when it comes to those imprisoned--by the public and the inmates themselves.”
Jones said he and Verástegui hope their effort will help inspire inmates to “valiantly lay claim to their second chance.”