MEDFORD, Ore. – A romantic drama hitting the big screen this weekend and it’s directed by one of Medford’s own. You may recognize Justin Baldoni from his role as Raphael in the hit show: Jane the Virgin, but this past week he walked the red carpet to debut a movie he directed, “Five Feet Apart”.
Today, NBC5 spoke to his friends from South Medford High School who say it was a total coincidence he ended up in Hollywood. Originally from L.A. Justin Baldoni grew up in the Rogue Valley. He went to school at South Medford, but after graduation, his life led back to the Hollywood hills.
“I think it was through kind of random chance and circumstance that he met a manager that asked him, I think he always had a knack for that business but it happened very organically in the very beginning and then became a lot of his hard work and his talent,” Justin’s friend, Noelle Olmstead said.
Though he’s found success in the big city, he remains close with his high school friends. Eli Matthews and Noelle Olmstead say their friendships with Baldoni got even closer after graduation. So much so, the actor flew them out to the Hollywood premiere of the movie he directed, “Five Feet Apart”.
“It’s an amazing movie, and we just sat there and every once in a while throughout it, I would just go wow Justin made this,” Olmstead said.
“For me, it was one word, and that word was wow,” Justin’s friend, Eli Matthews said.
His friends say it may have been a coincidence that he ended up on T.V. screens around America, but it’s no surprise
“He’s always been creative, and his parents will talk about how he was this little boy with this little broken camcorder going around, so he’s always had that draw,” Olmstead said.
Baldoni is on his way to becoming a household name, but his friends say he’s exactly who he’s always been and it shows.
“He focuses his life and his work on things that matter and life, and that’s why he’s successful and I know he’s going to be continually successful because he focuses on the good things,” Matthews said.
One thing’s for sure, his hometown friends will always support his dream.
Devin Gooden graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism.
She has spent most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Business Management.
When she’s not reporting, Devin practices yoga, reads thriller novels and loudly cheers for her beloved Georgia Bulldawgs.