Aimee Garcia – Lucifer (TV)

December 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

We’re 10 episodes into the third season of “Lucifer,” Fox’s drama-fantasy-comedy series featuring the Devil (Tom Ellis) working as a police consultant and nightclub owner, and one of the highlights of the show has been the performance of Mexican-Puerto Rican actress Aimee Garcia and the development of her character Ella López, a forensic scientist for the LAPD.

Since joining the cast as a regular last season, Garcia’s role as Ella has expanded into her biggest since her three-season turn on the hit Showtime series “Dexter” where she played the title character’s nanny Jamie Batista. In the nine episodes that have aired so far this season, audiences have learned (spoiler alert) that she is a geeky fangirl, has been banned by a casino in Las Vegas for counting cards and hears voices in her head. Garcia’s role will continue to grow this season and feature her in what she calls an “Ella-heavy episode” in late January.

“I can’t think of another character in any sort of media who is like her,” Garcia, 39, told me during an interview last week.

In what many TV critics are calling Garcia’s best episode this season (Episode 6, “Vegas with Some Radish”), Ella goes to Las Vegas with Lucifer to find his missing ex-wife. While there, she “busts out the bling” while helping Lucifer look for a murderer, but also finds time to play a little Blackjack and dress up like a Vegas showgirl in purple sequin and dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady.”

During our interview with Garcia, who also had TV roles on “George Lopez” and “Trauma,” we talked about finding a steady gig on TV again, how she felt seeing Latina fans of the show dress up like her character at comic cons and about an extremely interesting meeting she had with other Latinas in Hollywood in Eva Longoria’s living room.

“Lucifer” airs Mondays at 8pm on Fox.

What has it been like watching yourself in Season 3?

The writer of the episode usually hosts a viewing party. If we’re not shooting anything, we all try to get together and support each other and watch it. I love watching my fellow cast members. They’re great and funny and heartbreaking. I love watching them do their thing. I try to be pretty objective [on myself]. I’ll watch myself and be like, “Ah, that could’ve landed a little better.” Or I’ll watch and be like, “Ah, that was funny!” I’m not a tortured artist.

How does it feel now that you’ve found a home on TV like you’ve had in the past?

It’s nice. We have such a fervent fan base. We always hold steady. We beat higher profile shows. It’s nice to have a family. I’ve been at Warner Bros. since “George Lopez.” It’s been a home away from home for me. I feel super lucky to work in L.A. [The “Lucifer” cast] get along so authentically. I hope it radiates through the screen. Because we have that chemistry and camaraderie, we really want each other to shine. It’s a complete joy to come to work.

What is it like portraying a Latina scientist on TV?

When I signed on [in Season 2], I knew [Ella] was a woman of faith and of science. That was enough of a nugget for me to dig into. She a scientist and I love representing Latina scientists. Someone mentioned to me that Ella López is the only Latina scientist on TV right now. For me, she should be one of hundreds. But that was special to me – to be a professional Latina scientist who is a woman of faith and science and working with the Devil. That was enough for me to jump on board. Since then, we’ve learned so much more about her. Every time I open up a script, I’m learning something different about Ella. She’s really fun and smart, but she can also get ghetto. She’s full of surprises. That’s what makes her so fun to play. I think, by far, Ella has been one of my favorite characters ever.

Is there something specific that makes your character special?

I love that she doesn’t lead with her sexuality. She doesn’t even have a love interest. How many female characters on TV don’t have a love interest? She’s in her own lane. That’s why I think the fans really latch onto her, especially the Latina fans. One of the most touching things I experienced at comic con was seeing young Latinas and dress up like Ella. They could’ve dressed up like Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman or other superheroes who can stop planes or plunge into oceans, but they decided to wear glasses and a top knot and carry a scientific toolbox. They were dressing up like Ella López because they thought she was that cool and interesting. That completely warmed my heart. People are very affected by what they see. If what they see on TV is a professional Latina scientist who is not self-conscious and not defined by a man, then sign me up!

What other Latinas in the industry inspire you? Who is doing good work right now?

America Ferrera’s [NBC sitcom] “Superstore” is funny. She is a producer of the show. Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”) is winning awards left and right. Gloria Calderón is creating shows like “One Day at a Time.” We actually all got together recently as Latinas. [The meeting] was spearheaded by Eva Longoria (“Telenovela”) and America and Gina. They got us all together – Rosario Dawson (“Sin City”), Zoe Saldana (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Gloria [Calderón], Justina Machado (“One Day at a Time”), Jackie Cruz (“Orange is the New Black”). It was 25 Latinas in Eva Longoria’s living room talking about how we as Latinas have so much power to create content and to change the landscape.

So what happened? What came out of that meeting? Do you all have a plan now to change the landscape?

We thought, “Oh my God, with all of our Instagrams and Twitters combined, we could reach 100 million people! That is a lot of power!” It was such an inspiring group to be a part of. We heard each other’s stories and I thought, “Wow, if we all go to each other’s movies and promote each other’s films, there’s nothing we can’t do.” I feel like I’m part of a growing movement of strong Latinas. It’s a new era and a very exciting one. I think it’s one that is not going to be just a chapter, but a permanent change. They brought up a good point during the first meeting that if anyone has any content, they can take it to the various women in that room who have production companies. Gloria [Calderón] said that anyone who has a story to tell should become a content creator. If something is successful and headlined by a Latina, then they’re going to want to make more. We want to help mobilize that and move it forward.

What’s the next step? Is this going to be something you do every month?

We’re going to get together once a month, which I think is important so we know who is working on what projects. We’ve started building a network. It was the first step in a bigger plan to create more support and start to have influence on what Hollywood understands, which is box-office success and ratings. You do that by doing the simple things. For example, if you’re on a TV show, ask if you can direct an episode. Eva said, “Ask if you can direct. You’ll have a director’s credit and you’ll have experience behind the camera.” It didn’t even occur to me to ask! Because I went to that meeting, I thought, “Oh, maybe I can and should direct an episode of “Lucifer” in Season 4.” It was so inspiring. It’s really a positive, pro-active movement. It showed me that I wasn’t alone. I’m not the only Latina carrying the flag for the entire Latina community. We all have each other’s backs. It was such a heartfelt, long overdue powwow. I thought, “Wow, this is the beginning of creating a Latina mafia and it’s pretty dope.”

Aimee Garcia – Dexter & Go For It! (DVD)

September 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

It’s been a great year for actress Aimee García. Not only did she star in the lead role of the feature dance film “Go For It!,” she was cast in the critically-acclaimed Showtime series “Dexter.”

During an exclusive interview with me, García, who was best known for her role as George Lopez’s rebellious niece Verónica in the final season of “The George López Show,” talked about doing her own dance moves in “Go For It!” and her character Jamie Batista in “Dexter.”

“Go For It!” was released on DVD Sept. 27. The sixth season of “Dexter” premieres Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. on Showtime.

How exciting has 2011 been for Aimee Garcia?

It’s a dream come true. I go to work every day on “Dexter” with Emmy-nominated actors and writers. “Go For It!” was a passion project. We put sweat, blood and tears into shooting it. It’s a movie that could’ve gone nowhere, but a major studio picked it up and distributed it. It’s a story of an underdog. Coming from Chicago and the Midwest, I really feel like if you work hard you’ll get a break. This year has been so fantastic. It’s so exciting to headline a film. It’s not every day you see a Latina carrying a full-length feature.

The film is also directed by a Latina, Carmen Marron. It’s rare to get a film starring a Latina and directed by one, too.

Latinos are the fastest growing minority and we’re obviously not going anywhere. We’re extremely loyal as a people and I think Hollywood is starting to recognize that. It’s very rare for a major studio to nationally distribute a film with Latino talent, not only in front of the camera, but also behind the camera. It really is a major feat on so many levels. Usually film and TV are behind the curve when it comes to representing the actual social fabric of the country.

You came into “Go For It!” with your own background in dance. Did the dancing scenes come natural to you? Did you still have all your moves?

(Laughs) Well, I started my career as a professional dancer in Chicago, so I definitely had tons of training, but I was trained in classical ballet. So, I had to up my game because I knew I was going to dance a lot of hip-hop. I was sharing the screen with professional dancers who have danced with Janet Jackson and Pink and other incredible performers. I trained for eight months before we started shooting. I took about five hip-hop classes a week. I felt like a professional athlete.

What did that do to you physically? It must’ve been rough.

Yeah, I retrained hardcore. I was bruised. I had to ice my sore muscles every day. I also had to change my diet and eat more protein. I felt like I was a professional soccer player. But I wanted to do my own dancing. I didn’t want a body double or a guy with a wig doing it for me. It was pretty brutal.

Was doing your own dancing an important part of the process for you?

It was very important because my character really expresses herself through dance. I feel like if I robbed her from that experience it wouldn’t have been as fulfilling to the audience. [Director] Carmen [Marron] from the very beginning knew she wanted some who could act and dance. I knew I was going to have to step up and do it. I always promised myself if I ever got the chance to do a “Flashdance”-type of movie, I would do my own dancing. I can say with pride that every single dance move in “Go For It!” is my own dance move.

Talk about your character on “Dexter” and the overall experience it’s been working on such a popular show.

Only six dramas get nominated for Emmys and I’m working on one of them right now. I’m sharing the screen with Edward James Olmos and Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter. I’m just so lucky to be on a show with such a fervent and incredible fan base all over the world. The day after I got cast I was getting tweets from Germany and London. My character is Jamie Batista, Dexter’s new nanny. She’s Angel Batista’s little sister. She moved to Miami to study child psychology. She’s smart. She’s a hot little number who is super comfortable in a bikini. I love everything about her. She’s savvy, flirty and fun.

Aimee Garcia – Trauma

September 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

While doing research for her role on the new NBC show “Trauma,” Chicago-born actress Aimeé García realized what a big responsibility she had by taking on the role of Iraqi war veteran-turned-EMT pilot Marisa Benez.

“I’m not only representing a Latina, I’m also playing a soldier and a hero,” García told me during a phone interview to promote the first season of her new TV show. “These guys are the Navy Seals of the medical world.”

Best known for her role as George Lopez’s rebellious niece Verónica Palmero in the final season of “The George López Show,” García makes her move from comedy to drama in a role she calls “very technical.”

From simulated helicopter rides to intense storylines that deal with life and death, García says she feels blessed to have found another home on TV. During the interview, she talked about what makes her character so different from anything she has ever done before and why “Trauma” isn’t an average medical drama.

“Trauma” premieres Sept. 28 on NBC at 8 p.m.

What was it about “Trauma” that made you want to be a part of it?

[Producer] Peter Berg has such an amazing reputation with “Hancock,” “Very Bad Things” and “Friday Night Lights.” I wanted to be a part of it. I came in and met the producers. They were kind enough to say, “That’s the girl.” I was the only one they brought to NBC. Lucky for me, I won the role.

It’s been a couple of years since “The George López Show.” How does it feel to have a consistent role on a TV show again?

It’s everything I could have hoped for and more. I felt very much at home on “The George López Show” and made life-long friends there. I really feel like I cut my teeth with George López, Andy García and Rita Moreno. Now, I’m doing drama and it feels more like a feature film. Every single day is different. As we speak, I’m reading a scene where they are having me pop in some guy’s eyeballs. It’s guerilla filmmaking on the small screen.

Tell us about your character Marisa Benez.

She is an Iraqi war veteran. She has done two tours as a pilot. She’s flown everything from Apaches to Black Hawks. She’s used to transporting injured Navy Seals and fly a helicopter while being shot at. She’s tired of seeing her friend being killed on the frontlines, so she decides to [end] her military [career] and come to San Francisco to help civilians and kids fight for their lives. She has a little bit of post-traumatic stress disorder with everything she’s seen in the war. She’s a really cool chick. I hope I do her justice.

How much helicopter training did you have to go through for this role?

I had to spend hours in a helicopter and learn the ins and outs. I had to talk to Air Traffic Control and learn that lingo. I also had to learn the EMT side of it. It’s a very technical role.

Did you train with actual EMTs?

Yes, I did ride-a-longs in ambulances with San Francisco paramedics. I was inside an ambulance as they were answering 911 calls. It was a life-changing experience. It’s pretty incredible to spend time with people who others rely on so much. That’s what’s so great about this show. These people literally walk into circumstances that they’ve never seen before. They are the first on the scene. They’re the ones that are going to have to deal with the messiness of the situation. They’re the ones that have to stop the bleeding. Now, when I go to work, I’m running away from explosions and putting on a flight suit and pretending to land a chopper in the middle of a freeway.

Does it worry you that there are a few other medical dramas also premiering this fall?

Not at all, we’re the only medical drama out on the field. It’s out on the streets. We’re not shooting on a lot; we’re shooting on location. We have everything that a medical drama should have – the blood and the adrenaline rush – but instead of an ER, we have a backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and the colorful characters that San Francisco brings. It’s not a medical drama. It’s an action drama that deals with medicine.

Aimee Garcia – The George Lopez Show

June 7, 2007 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

As the newest member of the cast of ABC’s “The George Lopez Show” actress Aimee Garcia plays the role of George’s niece Veronica. Via phone from L.A., Garcia spoke to me about working with Lopez and executive producer Sandra Bullock, moving to the big city to start her career, where luck and hard work fit into the scheme of things, and what it literally means to “dance dork.”

How did you break into the industry?

I started sending out packets to casting directors saying, “Aimee G’s in town!” Just my luck, the casting director from Universal remembered me from “American Pie” casting and asked me if I wanted to meet director Miguel Arteta. She told me he was doing a movie called “The Good Girl” with Jennifer Aniston. I said, “Yeah, of course.” The next thing I know I’m in L.A. introducing myself to Jennifer Aniston and she’s introducing her self to me. “Hi, I’m Jennifer Aniston.” And I’m like, “Yeah, I know.”

Would you consider that a lucky break?

I don’t know if I would consider it luck. I was prepared. I screen tested for “Selena” with Jennifer Lopez. When I was in high school they flew me out to New York to meet (director) Baz Luhrmann to screen test with Leonardo DiCaprio (for “Romeo & Juliet”). So, I felt pretty prepared. I don’t know if it was luck. I had worked very hard. I never really believe in luck. I think the energy you put out is the energy you get. I really think that people can tell when you walk into a room really prepared. It’s practicing in the bathroom, practicing in the car, waking up at five in the morning, my voice exercises, my acting classes.

You double majored in economics and journalism in college. Do you still write in any aspect?

I do. I actually go on trips and write. I’ve been to Tibet, Israel, Turkey, Cuba, Greece, Cambodia and Vietnam and I write travelogues and send them to my friends. I still do a little writing. Part of being a journalist is being a sponge and being curious and asking questions. I’m still a journalist. I just don’t get paid for it the same way.

So, why not just join up and become a journalist?

I realized that I loved acting and I would be able to be a journalist by investigating different places when you shoot on location. In a way, I do feel like I am a journalist. It’s made me become a better performer and a better actor.

What was the transition like for you moving to L.A.? Were you at all nervous?

Not at all. My friends had graduated a year ahead of me so essentially I walked into a family of friends. I had a floor to crash on since the first day I got here. I’ve been very lucky.

How did you get involved with “The George Lopez Show?”

I had done about three (TV) series that had gone about one season before. There was an opening for a guest starting role on “The George Lopez Show” and I jumped at the opportunity because to me (Lopez) is a comedic icon and that’s really where I wanted to make my dent. (People) never really think of Latinos as being funny. So, I auditioned just like everyone else.

How was that experience?

Well, my first audition wasn’t so great. I mean, I was okay, but I didn’t knock it out of the ballpark. I said, “Well, I’m not getting that one.” Somehow, luckily – this I consider luck – they said, “Well, I’ve seen her work and she’s good so let’s have her come back in.” So, I did and it was night and day and I got the job. I got to be Andy Garcia’s daughter and George Lopez’s niece. I was hired for three episodes and then George said, “We’re going to try and have you on full time.” He’s really a person that puts his money where his mouth is. Before I knew it, I was part of the family.

How would you describe you sense of humor?

Goofball. I think everything is funny and that people are hilarious. I think little kids are hilarious. I think the little things people do are really funny. I think George is hilarious when he is pretending he is in the bathroom and his Mexican family is taking off and he’s like, “Wait for me! Wait for me!” It’s hilarious because we’ve all been there. Everyone can relate to that. I also “dance dork,” which is the most un-rhythmic, non-Latin dance you can imagine. It’s probably more like the last scene of “Napoleon Dynamite.” I think it’s so wrong and hilarious.

Come on, do you really dance like that?

No, no I dance like that. In fact, I just did a talk show on Telemundo and they asked me, “Do you dance?” And I said, “I dance dork.” The host said, “Who wants to see Aimee dance dork?” And then here I am in these hot boots and cute dress dancing. Anyone who was even thinking of me as a sexy babe changed their mind once they saw me dance.

What do you think about George Lopez as a person and as an actor?

As a person, very, very honest and extremely generous. We’ll be rehearing and he’ll say, “I’m bored! Everyone here gets shoes.” And he’ll buy a pair of shoes for 30 people just because he wants to express his appreciation for everybody’s hard work. As for his professional side, I think he is hilarious. I don’t do sit-ups anymore because he is so funny. My abs are in pretty good shape because I am always laughing at work. You really have to be on game because he is a dynamic, organic performer. You never know what he is going to do to make the audience laugh.

Have you gotten a chance to meet (executive producer) Sandra Bullock?

Yes, I have. She is the most humble, unassuming person I have ever met. When I first met her I went up to her and said, “Hi. My name is Aimee Garcia. I play Veronica.” She said, “Aimee, you don’t think I watch every single episode before it airs?” You would never know that she was so hands on from the sidelines.

What do you want out of this industry? What is your ultimate goal?

I think professionally it is to represent Latinas in a positive light – comically, intelligently, articulately. I think that I – in baby-steps – have broken through by booking roles that were originally written for bluxom-blonde pageant girls. I go in there and get the part of “Susie Winters” when they never envisioned a Latin girl as Susie Winters. I want to continue to break stereotypes and having producers envision characters in a different way without having to change (the character’s name) to Lolita Conchita Lupita Rosita.