Rafael Casal

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Rafael Santiago Casal (born August 8, 1985) is an American writer, performer, and producer originally from the Bay Area. Rafael's first TV appearance was performing on three seasons of HBO's Def Poetry, and as a creator online with millions of YouTube/Facebook views for his original music, poetry, web shorts, and political commentary.

His theater-in-verse work has brought him around the country and the world both in the realm of activism and arts performance at hundreds of colleges and venues. Rafael is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the BARS workshop at The Public Theater in New York.[1]

Early life[edit]

Rafael grew up in Berkeley and Oakland, CA. He was expelled from Berkeley High School after two years and earned his diploma through an alternative independent study program.[2] Rafael is of half Irish and half Hispanic descent.[3]



When he was 18, Rafael appeared on HBO's Def Poetry Jam. At the same time, he was touring, performing, and teaching nationwide with YouthSpeaks. He is a two time Brave New Voice Poetry Slam Festival champion. Rafael spent three years serving as creative director at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop Arts Learning Community while earning his degree at night.[2]


In July 2010, Rafael released The BAY BOY Mixtape with Daveed Diggs under the Getback Productions crew the pair co-founded with Chinaka Hodge. Rafael has also released several Solo Albums: Mean Ones (2012), As Good As Your Word (2008), and Monster (2009).[2] In 2018, Casal and Diggs released a pair of EPs, the Collin and Miles EPs to accompany their film, Blindspotting.[4]


In 2018, Rafael and Daveed Diggs released their premiere film, Blindspotting, which they had been writing for 10 years. The pair wrote, produced, and starred in the film that uses verse to tell the story of their hometown of Oakland, CA.[5]

Rafael is set to make his directorial debut in First Sight, a sci-fi romantic comedy about falling asleep to find the person of your dreams.[6]


Film Category Role Year Notes
The Break Up Short Boy 2008 Writer
Ricochet in Reverse Short Dylan Klebold 2010
The Away Team TV Mini-Series Cal 2014 Creator, Producer, Director
Mali Music: Beautiful TV Movie 2014 Producer
Frozen Hearts Short 2015 Producer
Blindspotting Film Miles 2018 Producer, Writer
Rachel Dratch's Late Night Snack TV Series Elliot 2018 Season 2 Episode 7
Before the Fire Film Upcoming Producer
Stucco Short Throne - Crowning Arm Upcoming
Bad Education[7] Film Kyle Contreras Upcoming
First Sight[6] Film Upcoming Director
Are You Afraid Of The Dark? TV Mini-Series Mr. Top Hat 2019
The Good Lord Bird TV Mini-Series Cook 2020


  1. ^ "Rafael Casal | Welcome". Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  2. ^ a b c Danzig, Christopher. "The Def Poetry of Rafael Casal". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  3. ^ "Rafael Casal:"I Feel Latino When There's an Attack Against Immigrants"". www.goldenglobes.com. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  4. ^ "Music from Blindspotting (2018)". Tunefind. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  5. ^ Dry, Jude; Dry, Jude (2018-07-27). "'Blindspotting': How Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal Made the First Buddy Comedy About Gentrification and White Privilege". IndieWire. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  6. ^ a b N'Duka, Amanda; N'Duka, Amanda (2018-10-05). "'Blindspotting' Team Returning To Lionsgate With 'First Sight' Feature; Rafael Casal To Direct". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-04-29.
  7. ^ "Rafael Casal". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-04-29.