CHARLOTTE, NC — A new play at UNC Charlotte is putting the spotlight on immigration, and the plot is drawing inspiration from a local business.

Manolo Becantur owns Manolo’s Bakery near Plaza Midwood, and his store serves as the backdrop in the new play “Migrant X.”

What You Need To Know

  • “Migrant X," a new play at UNC Charlotte, puts the spotlight on immigration here in Charlotte.

  • Manolo Becantur, owner of Manolo’s Bakery, served as the inspiration for the new play, and stars in the show as well.

  • The goal is to increase LatinX visibility on the UNC Charlotte campus, and to bring awareness to issues the LatinX community faces locally.

Becantur came to the United States from Colombia in 2000, after he fled from what he called a war-torn country.

“My family, they lost in one night everything because a bomb, a terrorist bomb destroyed my family business,” he said.

Becantur came on a student visa, but ran into problems with Immigration and Customs in 2006.

“I had a deportation order because when I moved from Tennessee to North Carolina, my attorney didn’t tell immigration I switched states,” he said. “So because I missed an appointment I had a deportation order.”

Becantur became a citizen in 2008, and bought what’s now Manolo’s Bakery in 2011.

He became an outspoken advocate, and criticized the Mecklenburg County Sheriff Office for its relationship with ICE in the 287g program. Even after the partnership ended in 2018, Becantur found himself fighting immigration again.

“I came to work and everyone was crying here. I said ‘what happened?’ ICE came here to the parking lot, and they took one of us,” he explained.

Becantur called attorneys and helped his employee.

“You can fix the roof, the floor, buy new equipment. In that case it was save my employee’s future because I know his family,” he said.

A few months later, in 2019, Becantur told this story to a playwright and a theater professor at UNC Charlotte. The duo came back with an offer.

“[They said] the play is about stories from the bakery, about your own story. You wanna be a part of that? I said 'you crazy?' That’s what I told them,” Becantur said with a laugh.

He agreed and is now one of the lead roles in “Migrant X," a play about his own compassion in helping the immigrant community in Charlotte.

“It’s not just my life. It’s the immigrant’s life, millions of immigrants lives in the United States,” said Becantur. “This is the stories of my people, the stories of my community, the stories of our immigrant community, and the stories of Charlotte, of the United States. So I’m really looking for people to see and listen with their hearts.”

Carlos Alexis Cruz, the show’s director, said having Becantur play himself is powerful, and he hopes it shows the community a side of the city they may not have seen before.

“I hope that people have questions about the kind of things that they can seek for resources, some answers,” said Cruz. “I hope that people see a different perspective of the LatinX experience, as an important sector of this community, and also see the future of the most rapidly growing sector in this area as well.”

The show runs until October 7 at UNC Charlotte. For ticket information, click here.