What or who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Throughout my life, I’ve had a few people who have influenced me in my career. I’d like to begin with my parents. I grew up in Castle Hill projects in the Bronx, New York. My parents enrolled me in dance classes when I was about ten or eleven years old as a means of keeping me off the streets and I developed a passion for it. The arts soon served as an escape and gave me an incentive to want to pursue a career in acting. I also had my extended family, friends, my community and teachers who all recognized my talents. They encouraged me to believe I could somehow live my dream of one day becoming an actor like Rita Moreno. She was about the only television role model we (Latinos) had for a very long time.
What interests you in a role, story, or character?
I’m attracted to characters that are complex and present a challenge to me. By that I mean, they cause me to step out of my comfort zone. Characters that I’m drawn to deal with deep internal issues unfamiliar to me which require extensive research and that transform me into a world of unfamiliarity that helps me grow as an actor. I would love to play roles of Latina women who are pioneers in history, who were activists and who have overcome gender and cultural barriers.
Women like Sonia Sotomayor, Dolores Huerta, Rita Moreno, Ellen Ochoa (first Latina Astronaut in Space), Julia de Burgos, Maria Jesus Alvarado Rivera, Luisa Capetillo, Lolita Lebron, Argelia Laya, and so many other Latin American women who have left their stamp on society, but have yet to have their stories told.
From your career so far, what role/project are you especially fond of and why?
I have enjoyed all the roles I’ve played up to this point. If I had to choose, I would say the role of Celia on the FX series “Mayans M.C.” left a mark on me. Celia was a very complex woman with deep-rooted scars stemming from her rough past. Even though she was a product of her upbringing and discarded by society, she never saw herself as a victim of her circumstances. She could handle herself with the big boys. Celia had no filter and no shame with the choices she made in order to survive the streets. I also really enjoyed the role of Cuchillos on the Netflix show “On My Block.” Here is another woman with a rough past and despite her being from the hood, she was able to create an empire in a world that is usually dominated by men.
As audiences have shifted to streaming content, what opportunities does this bring to you as an artist?
Audiences shifting to streaming content has given me more platforms to work in and showcase my talent. Now there are more opportunities besides network and cable Television. Also, as a producer, streaming networks provide another venue for me to sell content that I am currently producing through my company DnA media productions.
Is there a genre that you haven’t worked in yet that you’d like to?
I would love to do a biopic of one or more of the aforementioned pioneer, social activist women. I would also love to do period pieces, action films, which we now see more women in, romantic comedies —oh, but then there is animation as well. I’m really just getting started with what I can achieve at this point in my career. I see endless possibilities.
What are the strengths of Latin American film?
I feel that we have yet to tap into our full potential. As more Latino writers, directors, and production companies emerge, we’re going to see more diverse stories. We will be able to tell our stories in the way that we want to tell them. We will also see more layers in our cultures. These universal stories will let the world know we’re all part of the human race. We are just getting started.
What do you have coming up next?
While we’re home during this pandemic, my husband and I are busy creating and producing content through our production company. We’re actually working on some projects which depict our current living situation with the pandemic. We’re also in the process of launching our podcast: “Plátanos & Collard Greens.”