Carmel Valley performer Aaron Acosta teams up with Grammy-winning producer on new music project


By Rob LeDonne

It all started as a fluke: the year was 2006 and Aaron Acosta, then 7, was tagging along with his actress sister Marissa on an audition to give her support. However, when they were in the parking lot, a producer for a different project ran up to him.

“He said I should audition for a play he was putting together,” remembers Acosta, now 13, who had never acted before in his life. “I probably would have started acting eventually, but that was my first shot.”

Acosta nailed that audition, and then another and another, and six short years later, he’s become a veteran actor and singer with a plethora of credits under his belt.

Acosta, who attends Carmel Valley Middle School, has appeared in numerous stage shows around the region, landing his first professional gig, a production of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”, at the Old Globe theater, when he was only 9.

“It was a huge and new experience at the time. I was really shy at first,” he notes about performing on a stage full of acting veterans double and triple his age. “It was intimidating. Once I got to know the cast members, it was a great experience. You learn from them, because everyone is supportive of each other.”

The young actor scored his next break in 2010, when he appeared in the La Jolla Playhouse production of “Chaplin,” a show that went from San Diego to Broadway, and scored Acosta’s co-star, Rob McClure, a recent Tony Nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Play.

“That experience was amazing as well,” Acosta explained. “We were like a big family. I’m always sad when shows end, especially that one because there were people in it from all over the country.”

Throughout all of his stage success, his mother Kathleen couldn’t be more proud. “What’s impressive about Aaron is that he’s able to stay grounded. He’s well known in local circles and has even auditioned for Broadway a bunch of times. He’s able to handle it all really well.”

It’s that ability to perform under pressure which led to his newest project. Acosta is currently putting together a variety of songs with Pablo “Chino” Nunez, a renowned Grammy-winning salsa producer who has worked with the likes of Marc Anthony and Tito Puente. Nunez caught wind of Acosta after, against Acosta’s wishes, his sister Marissa posted a video of Acosta singing on Youtube. A few months later, his father showed it to a friend who knew someone in the music industry, and the opportunity fell into place from there. Said Kathleen: “Aaron is always in the right place at the right time.”

The first two songs from Nunez and Acosta’s collaboration, “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “Dream Lover,” were recorded in Miami this past spring and are now available on iTunes. (Acosta recorded a salsa version of Betcha by Golly Wow made famous by the Stylistics in 1971 and a Bachata rendition of Dream Lover made famous by heartthrob Bobby Darin in 1959). Time will tell if Aaron will be the Justin Bieber of salsa, so for now he’s taking everything in stride and is gearing up for another year at Carmel Valley, where he also enjoys playing basketball. “My classmates know about my career. Whenever I go to an audition, they always ask me if I got a callback and get really excited. It’s a really good feeling to have friends like that.”

Acosta’s friends and coach have taken to calling him by a certain nickname: “Hollywood.”

For more information about Aaron Acosta, go to For more information about Chico Nunez, go to