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.