Prime-time talent

Oscar Magaña Jr.

PHOTO BY Catherine Beeghly

A Biggs native, Oscar Magaña Jr. has been an actor in Hollywood for the last four years. He has an idea to bring what he’s learned to the North State, using local talent to produce a TV pilot or movie here. “I want to bring my technical know-how here. We have the talent in Chico to make it happen.” Magaña, 35, is the son of migrant farm workers. He grew up in Biggs, graduating from Biggs High School and moving on to study agricultural engineering at Chico State before working for a time in local agriculture. He earned an associate’s degree at Butte College in psychology and theater arts. Locally, the 6-foot-2 singer/actor/

dancer had roles in the rock musical Rent at Butte College, and as the lead heartthrob in the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie at Chico Theater Company. Since moving to Hollywood, he has appeared on all three incarnations of CSI, on Blood Relative, as well as children’s shows on Nickelodeon. He’s also a VFX (visual effects artist) who’s fluent in Spanish. Magaña is currently spending time in Chico to be near family. In April he returns to Southern California to film a movie, co-starring alongside Martin Lawrence. Two Faces of Colin is scheduled for release in 2016, and Magaña is already learning his lines as Detective Perez.

Who have been your role models?

I’m grateful to many people who cultivated—and tolerated—my ambition. As a child, Sue Ruttenberg directed me in The Wizard of Oz in Biggs. I was the Cowardly Lion, in fourth grade. I got into sports, which is not an artistic endeavor, but coaches take you under their wings. Also, Barry Piccinino [Butte College Theater Arts] and Marc Edson [at Chico Theater Company].

Describe this idea to film a production in Chico.

I’d love to do a project, to produce a short film, using local actors here in Chico. My idea is to do a comedy about a group of people trying to make a movie in Chico, featuring local talent and places. I’d like to do something that would highlight myself—as a local artist—for the big industry, but also to showcase Butte County and the great city of Chico. Other movies take place in other towns, so if we want to film in Chico, there’s no reason we can’t. I’d like to show the world … we know Chico can party, but we can also make movies, too. I want everyone to be a part of it. I can think of a half dozen people off the top of my head who could be in it. It is doable. But I can’t do it on my own.

How can people contact you about getting involved with your film project?

I would be happy to discuss future plans with any interested parties. I can be reached via email, at

Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?

Do theater first; learn fundamentals. Acting is like shooting hoops—everyone can do it, but not everyone can play basketball. For that you have to learn and practice.