Striking Dominican actor Manny Perez is perhaps best recognized through his acting in “Washington Heights” (2002), a self-produced independent film set in his own neighborhood. Under the direction of Alfredo De Villa, Perez's portrayal of comic book artist Carlos Ramirez in the film earned him praise and a Milan International Film Festival Award. A favorite of De Villa, Perez also appeared in the director's films “Yellow” (2006) and “Nothing Like the Holidays” (2008). He is also known for playing Manny in Alejandro Gomez Monteverde's “Bella” (2006) and Coco Dominguez in Gavin O'Connor's “Pride and Glory” (2008) as well as for his recurring roles on NBC's “Third Watch” (2005) and FX's “Rescue Me” (2006-2007). He also portrayed lawyer Ramon Rodriguez in Sidney Lumet's critically acclaimed, but short-lived, series “100 Centre Street” (A&E, 2001-2002). Other movies Perez has acted in include “Courage Under Fire” (1996), “Dinner Rush” (2000), Takeshi Kitano's “Brother” (2000), “Party Monster” (2003), “El cantante” (2006), “Illegal Tender” (2007) and “The Ministers” (2009). Additional TV credits include guest spots on “NYPD Blue,” “New York Undercover,” “Rude Awakening,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “CSI: Miami.”
Perez will star in “A Kiss of Chaos” (2009), “The Butcher's Son” (2009) and “Forged” (2010). He wrote the latter two films.
A humanitarian, Perez donated 10,000 shoes to the victims of Hurricane Noel in the Dominican Republic. In 2007, he received an award from the Dominican Film Festival for his humanitarian efforts. Fellow Dominican actress Dania Ramirez was also honored at the event. In his acceptance speech, Perez recalled he got his first pair of shoes at age 5 and only wore them to go to church on Sundays. He said when he first arrived in the United States, he was fat despite the fact he was not rich and did not eat well. After visiting a health center, the doctor discovered Manny’s stomach was filled with worms that had infiltrated his body through his feet because he used to walk barefoot.
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Childhood and Family:
Born Manuel Perez Batista on May 5, 1969, in the small town of Baitoa, a suburb of the city of Santiago in the Dominican Republic, Manny Perez was raised in a big family consisting of eleven siblings. His family relocated to the United States when he was 10 years old and they settled in Providence, Rhode Island. With the hope of pursuing his acting dreams, Manny left Providence after graduating from high school to enroll at Marymount Manhattan College in New York. He graduated in 1992 with a degree in drama, making Manny the first member of his family to earn a college degree. Manny also trained at the honored Ensemble Studio Theatre and is a member of the Labyrinth Theatre Company in New York City.
Three months before he graduated college, his father, Ramon Perez, passed away. Manny told the Dominican show “Hola Gente” that one of his big heartaches in life was that he never told his dad how much he loved him.
Currently, Manny resides in New York City.
While living in Providence, Manny Perez performed with Providence's Trinity Repertory Co. He went on to hone in on his craft at the Marymount Manhattan College and with New York City's Ensemble Studio Theatre and LAByrinth Theatre Company. In 1993, a year after completing college, he broke into films with the supporting role of Tito in the Japanese crime movie “New York Cop,” directed by Toru Murakawa. He then appeared in Spike Lee's “Crooklyn” (1994), a semi-autobiographical that starred Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo and David Patrick Kelly, the Mickey Rourke vehicle “Bullet” (1996), helmed by Julien Temple and written by Rourke and Bruce Rubenstein, and Edward Zwick's box office hit “Courage Under Fire” (1996), which starred Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan. Perez's first television acting job arrived in the form of a guest role in the Fox police drama “New York Undercover,” produced by “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf. He played Vincent in the 1994 episode “Los Macheteros.” He followed it up with a guest role in Steven Bochco's hit cop series “NWPD Blue” in 1995 before returning to “New York Undercover,” this time playing Tony in the 1996 episode “If This World Were Mine.”
In 1997, Perez worked with Cameron Bancroft and Caprice Benedetti in the independent film “Sleeping Together” for filmmaker Hugh Bush. He went on to appear in the comedy “Chick Flick” (1998), star in Alfredo De Villa's 16-minute drama “Neto's Run” (1998), and play Aurelio in Yale Strom's “On the Q.T.” (1999). He also appeared in episodes of “Brooklyn South” (1998, as Estefan) and Showtime's “Rude Awakening” (1999, as Jesus).
Entering the new millennium, Perez teamed up with Danny Aiello and John Rothman in “Dinner Rush” (2000), a drama written by Brian S. Kalata and Rick Shaughnessy and directed by Bob Giraldi. The film was screened at various festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival, the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the Bergen International Film Festival and won the Audience Choice Award at the 2000 St. Louis International Film Festival and the Audience Award, Honorable Mention for Best Feature, at the 2001 Sarasota Film Festival. He then appeared as a mafia hit man in the drama “Brother” (2000), which was hyped as Japanese filmmaker/actor Takeshi Kitano's vehicle for breaking into the United States film market.
From 2001 to 2002, Perez played the regular role of attorney Ramon Rodriguez in the A&E Network short-lived courtroom drama “100 Centre Street,” directed by Sidney Lumet. The series was nominated for a 2001 Emmy award in the category of Outstanding Cinematography for a Multi-Camera Series. Costars in the series included Alan Arkin, Val Avery, Bobby Cannavale, Joel de la Fuente, Paula Devicq, Dennis Boutsikaris, and Joseph Lyle Taylor.
Perez gained notice in 2002 after starring with Tomas Milian in the Alfredo De Villa directed inner city drama “Washington Heights.” Playing Carlos Ramirez, his performance was applauded by many critics and he was awarded the Best Actor honor at the 2002 Milan International Film Festival. In addition to acting, Perez also contributed to the story and produced the film. Also in 2002, he portrayed Jorge Ortega in the based-on-play “King Rikki,” Jorge Galvez in an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and a technician in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He also appeared in the CBS television movie “Jo,” which was directed by Mike Newell.
2003 to 2004 saw roles in “Party Monster,” a controversial indie film based on the eccentric life of flamboyant New York City club organizer Michael Alig (played by Macaulay Culkin), and Vincent Rubino's award winning comedy “The Breakup Artist,” starring Joseph Lyle Taylor. Following guest roles in “CSI: Miami” and “Dragnet” (both 2004), Perez landed a recurring role on the NBC drama series “Third Watch.” He played Manny Santiago in 10 episodes of the show's last season from January to May 2005. He then revisited series TV as a recurring cast member of FX's “Rescue Me,” a drama centering on the personal and professional lives of New York City firefighters. He played Luis in 5 episodes during 2006-2007.
Between “Third Watch” and “Rescue Me,” Perez appeared in the award winning drama “Bella,” the feature directorial debut of Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, who also co-wrote the original screenplay with Patrick Million. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2006, and was released theatrically in the U.S. on October 26, 2007. He also played Eddie in Leon Ichaso's “El cantante” (2006, starred Marc Anthony and his real-life wife, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez), was reunited with director Alfredo De Villa for the musical “Yellow” (2006, starred Roselyn Sanchez, Bill Duke and D.B. Sweene) and had small roles in Salvatore Stabile's “Where God Left His Shoes” (starred John Leguizamo), Matthew Bonifacio's “Amexicano” and Jeff and Josh Crook's “Rockaway” (all 2007). He was next cast as Wilson DeLeon Sr. in the mob-oriented thriller “Illegal Tender” (2007), written and directed by Franc Reyes and produced by Oscar nominee John Singleton. Costars of the film included Rick Gonzalez, Wanda De Jesus, and Dania Ramirez.
2008 saw Perez portray Coco Dominguez in “Pride and Glory,” a drama directed by Gavin O'Connor, co-written by O'Connor and Joe Carnahan, and starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight and Noah Emmerich. It debuted at the Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2008. He then costarred with Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Peña, Freddy Rodríguez, Jay Hernandez, John Leguizamo, Debra Messing and Vanessa Ferlito in Alfredo De Villa's “Nothing Like the Holidays” (2008) and appeared in Steven Tanenbaum's “Last Call” (2008).
Recently playing Detective Manso in Franc Reyes' “The Ministers” (2009), Perez will portray Tony in Ricardo Sean Thompson's “A Kiss of Chaos,” which is slated to run at the New York International Latino Film Festival in July 2009. Additionally, he is scheduled to star in “The Butcher's Son” (2009), in which he also wrote the script, and “Forged” (2010), directed by William Wedig, who wrote the screenplay with Perez.
Milan International Film Festival: Best Actor, “Washington Heights,” 2002