In the new Starz Network crime drama “Power,” Mexican-American actress Lela Loren stars as Angela Valdes, an ambitious lawyer and the love interest of the series’ lead character James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), who is caught between his life as a legitimate New York City nightclub owner and a drug kingpin.
Loren, who started her career on episodes of a number of TV shows including “Cold Case,” “CSI: Miami” and “Lost,” can also be seen in films such as “Snitch” starring Dwayne Johnson and “The Hangover Part III.” Along with her role on “Power,” Loren stars on the Fox series “Gang Related” where she plays the fiancée of investment banker Daniel Acosta (Jay Hernandez).
During our interview last week, Loren talked to me about the complexities of her character on “Power” and why she is attracted to roles featuring stories from the underbelly of society.
New episodes of “Power,” which was already picked up for a second season, air on the Starz Network on Saturdays at 8 pm CT.
What attracted you to the role of Angela Valdes?
What I really liked about Angela is that she has this masculinity to her. She is very intelligent, disciplined and structured. In some ways, she’s like a dude. She is really buttoned up at work. At home, she lives like a bachelor. She eats like a pig. She’s a total mess. It’s fun to play that side. I feel as women we are much closer to that than the portrait of femininity people put out there. (Laughs) I think her complexity attracted me to her. She is also Puerto Rican, so getting to learn the nuances of that culture was challenging. But as a female, it’s always a treat to get to play a character that is sort of bottomless. You’re not stuck trying to add depth to a two-dimensional character. Also, Angela plays on these moral ambiguities, so it’s really delightful to play those as an actor because in real life we don’t get to do that. So, it’s like eating your cake and not having it show up on your thighs.
Do you think it’s possible to change someone like Ghost and get him to follow a legitimate path since he is already so deep into his lifestyle as a drug kinpin?
Yeah, I think a big question the show asks is: How much power to do we have to change our own identity once we lay down a foundation for our lives? Ghost wants to change very much, but everyone else in his family life is invested in him staying who he is. I know a lot of times in our family system, it’s like we’re crabs in a bucket. We try to claw out of the bucket, but we’re just pulled back in. I think it’s an interesting question for all of us. How much transformation is really possible? Is it going to be a two degree shift? Is it going to be a 180 degree shift? That’s what the show is about – the power of choice and the ability to architect our future.
After being on TV shows 1-3 episodes at a time like with “CSI: Miami,” “The Shield” and “Lost,” was it important for you as an actress to find something more consistent? Does it feel good to have a home on TV?
Does the Pope wear a funny hat? (Laughs) Yes, this is a career full of instability and insecurity. It’s harrowing not to have regular employment. Getting a job where I know what is going to be happening for the next six months is a blessing. Also, when you get to act every day versus maybe a few times a year, you learn so much about yourself. Being on a series requires an incredible amount of endurance. The hours are really long and the amount of memorization is massive. It’s akin to going to grad school. While it’s really challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. You have to dig deep and find that stamina that you don’t always think you have.
You’re also going to be on the new Fox series “Gang Related.” What is it about the underbelly of society and these darker stories that you like or is it just a coincidence?
I wish I was at a point in my career where I could pick roles, but I’m sort of at the point where I take what comes my way and try to make it as delicious as possible. But I think our society is really fascinated with the underbelly because it’s something we try to divorce ourselves from. But the truth is that it’s there. I think all of us have felt some of the darker colors, like when something sets us off in traffic or someone does something inconsiderate. I think there is a piece of us that would love to gut them. So, I think getting to play that out as someone else on TV resonates to that sort of darker instinct we all have. I think that’s the nature of drama. It’s not always about bright colors.