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Stephanie Beatriz on Playing the Fierce Rosa Diaz on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' Joining an Ensemble and Wearing Glasses to the Golden Globes

Photo of Alison Willmore By Alison Willmore | Indiewire January 31, 2014 at 4:52PM

Stephanie Beatriz talks playing "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" tough cookie Rosa Diaz, the chances of her character getting together with Joe Lo Truglio's Charles Boyle and the importance of having Latinas on screen as something other than maids.
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Stephanie Beatriz and Joe Lo Truglio in 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
Eddy Chen/Fox Stephanie Beatriz and Joe Lo Truglio in 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

Where would you place Rosa’s relationship with Boyle now? She’s been pretty clear in turning him down, but he also took a bullet for her.

You know how in kindergarten, you'd bring a bean from home, and you'd put it in a paper cup in grow it? There's a stage where you just told your mom that you need to buy beans for a project -- we're at that stage. We're way, way, way at the very beginning of any relationship that they're going to have. Both of them could use therapy, they're total weirdos. Imagining these people having a functioning relationship... there's no way they could ever do it now.

But I think, given some time... he did just take a bullet for her, and they had that exchange in the coat closet, where he said, "When you do go out with me, and you will..." -- he's so confident. There are these little steps of growth that they're going to have to through to get to the point where they're even anywhere near a first kiss. I think. But the writers may say, "Next week on 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'"...

"There's a certain type of guy that tattoos his neck, and I think that's the guy that Rosa's attracted to."

She’s also mentioned a boyfriend a few times. Are we going to get to see him anytime soon?

Man, I hope! I really hope! I think that'd be really fun, and I'd also enjoy coming to the casting. That would be fun for me as well.

Do you have any hopes for how that would go? I feel like he'd have to be someone either completely tough, or completely surprising and unexpected.

I imagine neck tattoos. There's a certain type of guy that tattoos his neck, and I think that's the guy that Rosa's attracted to.

I heard Michael Schur speak at a panel about sitcoms a couple of years ago, and he said he felt comedies don't really find their voice until after they're on air. Do you feel that "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" has changed since its premiere, or maybe found a groove that's different than the one that it started off with now that you're halfway through the season?

You know, I don't know. My perspective is so different from someone who's watching from the outside. I wouldn't be able to tell you, "Oh, that piece of work has found its voice," because I'm so entrenched in it. I will say that the camaraderie in the cast has created a working environment that's so amazingly creative and fun that I can't help but hope that that is reflected in the work as we go on.

Shooting that pilot, I was peeing my pants. I was so nervous, I didn't know anybody, I was a fan of Andy's, I was a fan of Andre's. When you're in that place in your mind, it can be very... "whoa!," you know? So I was fighting that, trying to get through the pilot, just talking to myself in my head, "Be cool, be cool, be cool, be cool." I didn't feel that way shooting this next episode, because I started to get to know people as ensemble members, and it just became something different. If anything, collectively as an ensemble, we are finding a groove, and we continue to find a groove. That kind of thing only comes with time, so that's definitely been a major change as we go along.

The show just got nominated for a GLAAD Media Award...

Yeah!

Brooklyn 99 6

...It also has one of the most quietly diverse casts I can think of on network television, and treats these aspects of the characters in a really nice way. Sexuality and race are not the focus of the characters, but they're not ignored either. Sometimes shows err on that side...

Yeah, where they mention it once, and that’s it.

Is that something that appealed to you, in going into this role?

Well, I'll tell you what -- going into it, I knew very, very little about it. I knew who the writers were, I'm a huge fan of "Parks & Recreation." And slowly, cast announcements started coming out. As I was looking at that stuff online, I was like, "Oh my gosh, we’re going to look like New York! This is great." So I was definitely excited about it.

The thing that you said that stood out to me was "quietly diverse." There’s something really great that the show looks how it looks, and that's how the world looks when you go outside for a lot of the country. You go outside and live your daily life, and you run into lots of different kinds of people. And for most of us... I'm not wearing a shirt that says "I'm Latina," you know? That's not the focus of my life. So I think that these characters, we're treating them as real people. That's not the focus of their lives, either. Their focus is fighting crime.

And their crazy coworkers.

Yeah. I love that. It's much more real and more normal than anything I can think of that I've watched on television. I've watched television and looked for myself, and not found myself. I'm looking, I'm looking, I'm looking, and, oh, there I am, I'm a maid. I utterly respect that there are lots of people who do service jobs and deserve our respect, because they make our world function. And I've been glad to play a maid in many variations. But that's not the only thing. Watching the show, it just seems normal, and I love that.

'Short Term 12'
Cinedigm 'Short Term 12'

You were also in "Short Term 12" last year, which is such a great film. What was the experience like, seeing it come out of SXSW and get more attention and acclaim as the year went on?

My agent got the audition. He said, "Look, it's a small role, it's an indie film, but Brie Larson is attached." I had just seen "21 Jump Street" on video, and was floored: "Oh my god, she's so cute and hilarious." And the script was so bomb! Halfway through, I was sobbing, and I didn't stop until the end. And I thought, "Oh my god, if I could be lucky enough to be in this film." And then I booked it, and I couldn't believe it.

It was really special. Brie in particular was so lovely and calm the whole time we were shooting. She just really kept in that, this graceful, gentle... "come with me, let's go into this world." I think it really shows in the performance. I remember just having to tell her when we were shooting a scene in the kitchen, "You realize you're so, so fucking good in this. Everyone is going to notice this, Brie." It's a beautiful, beautiful story, and I think Destin Cretton, the writer and director, is one of the most talented voices in film right now. My little opinion, but he's just so good.

So, I loved your glasses at the Golden Globes, and I saw them much talked about on Twitter. Are those the glasses you wear normally?

Those are the glasses I wear normally. I have really rough astigmatism, and those are my glasses, my everydays. I actually didn't wear them on the red carpet, because I thought I should look glamorous. Then I get inside and sit down at the table, and two seconds later, Meryl Streep walks by in her glasses. I turned to Joe Lo Truglio and said "If Meryl's wearing glasses, I'm going to wear mine!" So thanks, Meryl Streep!

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, Interviews, Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX Broadcasting, Short Term 12







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