Best known recently for playing Ray Romano’s “fantasy woman” in the first two seasons of the now-cancelled TNT show “Men of a Certain Age,” actress Patricia De León says getting typecast as a sexyLatinais something she struggles with every time she walks into an audition.
“Many times when I go into auditions I will wrap my breasts so I don’t show how voluptuous I am,” De León told me during an exclusive interview last week. “For my audition on the TV show ‘Lincoln Heights,’ I didn’t shower that morning or brush my hair. When it comes to my work as an actress, I try to downplay myself.”
While she may try to blend in with the crowd to work toward more serious roles, it’s hard not to notice the most evident things about De León, who is a former Miss Panama beauty queen and Univision reporter.
During our interview, De León, who is also a model and spokesperson for PETA’s anti-bullfighting campaign, talked about her new comedy “Pool Boys” and why she would probably never take on a character like the one Sofia Vergara plays in “Modern Family.”
Most of the work you’ve done in TV and film has been in dramatic roles, but now we can see you in the comedy “Pool Boys.” So, what would you say makes Patricia De León laugh?
I love the show “Two and a Half Men.” I can sit there and watch that show and just laugh and laugh.
Do you think it will still make you laugh without Charlie Sheen?
Not at all. Charlie Sheen was the show. I loved him. I was very disappointed when I found out he was no longer going to be a part of it. But the show must go on.
What are some of the differences you see between working on TV and movies?
In films, you have time to develop a character and work with the director, but on TV you can’t do that. Sometimes there will be an audience in front of you and if a joke doesn’t work one of the writers will bring you new lines to learn. In TV, you really don’t have much time to work with the material.
On your website, patriciadeleon.com, visitors can see how you have been used as inspiration for some warrior-like animated characters. What makes that kind of modeling interesting for you?
I love doing that because everything – your mind, body, your entire being – has to be in that character. I worked with animators who do these drawings on the computer. You have to work with them so they can capture that character. You can’t just stand there and pose like a pretty girl. You have to give them everything they need.
Can you see yourself playing that type of powerful character in a movie or TV series?
Those are the kinds of roles I’m actually after because I think I have that warrior personality. My goal is to get a role as a detective on a show like “Southland” or something like that. I don’t want to be perceived as just another sexy Latina. My pictures are sometimes very voluptuous, but I don’t want to be just another pretty woman. I want to be able to show people that I’m not just another beautiful face and great body. Latinas are strong women, single mothers, lawyers, doctors, and cops.
So, as an actress who wants to be taken serious, does being an attractive Latina have its downside?
Yeah, it’s harder. As a matter of fact, I shot a movie once (“Cloud 9”) with Burt Reynolds and the director (Harry Basil) told me that when I walked in the door he wondered if I could act because I was so beautiful. I’m not afraid or embarrassed to play the immigrant who just crossed the border. I have a lot of friends who are actresses who would never play those roles. They just want to play a pretty girl.
What do you think then about the role Sofia Vergara plays on “Modern Family?” Some critics would say she is playing the stereotypical, sexy Latina role.
I’m very proud of her and I think she is opening a lot of doors for a lot of people, but I hope no one gets the perception that her character is what represents a Latina woman. We’re more than that. I think that character is going to be her niche. Would I want to play a character like that? I think I’d want to focus on something else.