My character, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes, is a prospect in the Mayans M.C., but he also just came out of prison. I wanted to tell
 the story of the
 guy who goes
 into prison for
 survival and the 
animal that it
 creates, not only psychologically
but physically. And
so it made sense to put
 on some mass. I started at 149 pounds in October. Ten months later I was 186.


As an actor you wanna become the role, but this time 
I was really battling against nature. I met with a nutritionist, who taught me about diet, recovery, and mentality. Three times a day, I have two cups of carbs, a cup of greens, some fatty acids like avocado or almonds, seven ounces of protein steak, fish, chicken—and then a protein shake. If you want to grow, you have to create the atmosphere for it, because your body will adapt—that’s what’s so amazing.


I’ve learned to place my energy on the areas where it’s needed. I have naturally broad shoulders, a tiny waist, and slim legs. So I focus on compound movements and heavy weights. Squats
 and deadlifts really changed my body. Those are insane for your body and your mentality. To build anything you have to have a strong foundation.

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I was at a point where I’d done little projects here and there, but people forget about those, and I wanted to quit acting. After my Mayans M.C. audition, I went to my car, and I just cried. You know, we get in our way a lot of times, with fear or expectation, and we don’t really give our true self. But in that moment, there was nothing to lose. I just threw it all out there, and the next day I got the offer to be on the show. You have to believe in yourself more than anybody else.


Sons of Anarchy fans will recognize at least one fierce, familiar face.

As Pardo says, Mayans M.C. is “not a remake of Sons, it’s not even a sequel—it’s a different chapter, but still there’s a monster fan base to honor.” The series begins a few years after SOA, and while there isn’t much initial crossover, one regular has made the jump: Marcus Álvarez, prez of the Mexican-American motorcycle club that clashed with Jax and friends. Long story short: EZ’s gonna have his hands full as a prospect. 

Catch the first season of Mayans M.C. Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on FX.