You can admire Esai Morales for both his talent and his heart. He starred along Sean Penn in Bad Boys when he was 21, and has appeared in such next-gen Latino classics as Mi Familia & La Bamba. On TV you know him from his tenure on NYPD Blue and most recently as William Adama’s father in the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica. He just finished an arc on the show Fairly Legal and in October will hit the screen as Francisco d’Anconia in Atlas Shrugged.

Off screen he has always given back the love his community has shown him. Esai co-founded The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts with Sônia Braga and Jimmy Smits. Together, they raise scholarship funds to support a new generation of talent in the entertainment industry with connections to the Latino community. “We need people in front of the camera and behind the scenes as that is the only way we can change the Character of the content,” says Esai.

We sat Esai down for a one on one and he was kind enough to subject himself to our (patent pending) “Hot Tamale Round.”

If you could have worked with one actor/actress now deceased, who would it be?
Esai:  Raúl Juliá & José Ferrer

Which living person do you admire the most?
Esai: It was John Lennon; that is a hard one because most of the people I really admire are dead. I admire people who aren’t afraid to stand up, like Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

What characteristics of yours do you like the least?
Esai: I desire to please as many people as possible, and like to explain things to everyone.

Cats or dogs?
Esai: dogs, but cats are close second.

When do you lie?
Esai: to save people’s feelings or my ass.

Who is the greatest love of your life?
Esai: my 21 month old daughter.

Where would you rather live, near the sea or on a hill?
Esai: near the sea on a hill, that’s a bad question.

Your favorite movie is?
Esai: Casablanca.

Who would play you in your bio?
Esai: I have no idea, I couldn’t even play me; probably someone who isn’t of this planet.

If you could see any singer or band play live tomorrow, it would be?
Esai: The Beatles.

What’s your favorite name?
Esai: Mariana (my daughter’s name) it is a combination of the names in her mother’s family.

(Finish this sentence) I know I have Latino blood in me because I…
Esai: just can’t help myself, baby… (wink)