Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Andrea Navedo on "Jane The Virgin", Being a Superfast Version of Michelle Rodríguez and the Importance of Just Showing Up

By A.B. Lugo.

Andrea Navedo.
Andrea Navedo is the definition of a "working actor". Soap opera fans know her as Linda Soto in "One Life to Live" and Theresa Sandoval in "Guiding Light". Nighttime TV viewers know her face from the recurring roles she has played on "Law & Order" (Det. Ana Córdova), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (Cynthia Mancheno), "Golden Boy" (Lorraine Arroyo) and "How To Make It In America" (Debbie Domínguez). Film credits include Spike Lee's Girl 6, Double Take, Washington Heights, El CantanteStereotypically Me, and the upcoming Superfast.

The Bronx-born beauty has been acting professionally since 1995 and has not stopped working ever since. Find out a little bit about Andrea Navedo.

Congratulations on the series "Jane The Virgin". When did you first realize you wanted to be a performer? Where did you study?
As Xiomara on
"Jane The Virgin".
I first realized I wanted to be a performer in the 5th grade when I did a play. I played [the popular character from the television series "Happy Days"] Fonzie’s girlfriend. I had no lines. I just had to act smitten and flirty with Fonzie, plus wear a poodle skirt (which I loved!). Afterwords, the desire to act was always there but I never knew anyone in the business and there was barely enough money to buy a container of milk so [there was] no opportunity to take classes. It just didn’t seem like a realistic option for me. It wasn’t until my first semester as a freshman in college that I entertained the thought of acting again. I saw an audition sign in the halls and was instantly intrigued. I wanted to attend but then fear kicked in and I started to talk myself out of going, feeling that I couldn’t compete with college actors since I had no experience. Eventually attending the audition was the lesser of two evils. I didn’t want to have any regrets if I didn’t attend so in spite of my fear I went and to my amazement I landed a role. I did the play and was hooked. I declared theatre as my major the following semester. I finished with a four-year degree in Theatre from SUNY Old Westbury College.

You first made a splash on television of daytime drama. Describe the experience of working in "soap operas".
As Detective Ana Córdova in
"Law & Order".

My experience working on daytime TV was an interesting one. Starting with the audition for "One Life to Live". After several callbacks, the casting directors offered me a recurring role right in the audition room. It was amazing and felt like a dream. I was on cloud nine. They immediately sent me in for a fitting because it would start shooting the next day. I loved the part because based on the audition sides she was just the girl next door and this was exactly how I saw myself. When I got to the fitting they had me trying on miniskirts, combat boots and "ghetto fab" hoop earrings. I was confused. When I finally got my script I learned that the role that I was playing was the girlfriend of a gang leader! The material that I auditioned with was just used to hear me read and was from an old script of another character. I was so disappointed. My first major TV role and it was a stereotype! Nonetheless I decided that I was going to play my “Linda” away from the way it was scripted. I was going to give her heart, substance and a conscience. Plus, it was going to earn me enough to qualify for health insurance. It paid the bills, gave me lots of experience. The job lasted for 2 and 1/2 years and I think it lasted that long because of how I played her. Eventually my storylines got better and were written in a more positive light. 

How was it like working on "Law & Order", "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "How To Make It In America"?
With Paulina Singer and Luis Guzmán
in "How To Make It In America".

"Law & Order" turned out to be another long term recurring job for three seasons. The show had a great cast and crew and it was wonderful to work with Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin and S. Epatha Merkerson. The same can be said of my recurring role on "Law & Order: SVU". Mariska Hargitay and Danny Pino went out of there way to make me feel good about my work and a welcomed part of the cast.

"How to Make it in America" was another major recurring role and was great because I got to do comedy, something a lot of people don’t know I can do because I have done so much drama. Plus the opportunity to work with Luis Guzmán was pretty awesome.

You have done several films as well. How do you like doing films versus television?
I love doing TV for the longevity of the work but film is wonderful because there is the luxury of time to let a scene breathe and create the opportunity for spontaneity. 

Tell me about Xiomara, your character in "Jane The Virgin".
With Gina Rodríguez in
"Jane The Virgin".
Playing Xiomara on "Jane the Virgin" is a dream. I get to do comedy, drama, sing and dance. I love portraying her. She is not your typical hot sex-craved Latina stereotype. She has so many colors. She is a fiercely loving and protective mother to her daughter Jane. She is also smart, crazy, funny, sexy, insecure, tough, loyal, vulnerable and so much more.  With each episode I discover more of who she is and it is just so much fun. She is a dream character and I get to play her with a dream cast, crew, talented writers and super supportive producers and network. From top to bottom we have an amazing team.

How was it like playing a parody of Michelle Rodríguez in the upcoming Fast & The Furious spoof Superfast
I loved playing Michelle [the character based on Fast & The Furious' Letty, played by Michelle Rodríguez]. Superfast is written and produced by the same team from the Scary Movie films [Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer]. I love comedy and over the top silliness which is what I got to do in the film.  It was a nice departure from my normal [roles]. I attribute my comedy skills to the late Rich Ramírez and the Salsoul comedy troupe. I was a cast member for a couple of years and ironically met Rich on the set of "One Life to Live". The practice that I got doing our sketches were skills that I got to use on Superfast

How do you feel about the images of Latinos (especially Latinas) in the media? 

HOLA member
Andrea Navedo.
The images of Latinos in media are slowly but surely changing.  Many stereotypes are still in play but I feel that I am part of the trend that is going in the direction of more positive or, at least, balanced images. I keep showing up to auditions, the set, interviews, etc. to be an example and hopefully an inspiration to Latinos and the world. I act for the love of it but I also know that every time I show up I am representing. And every time I show up to an audition or job, I am picking [to be] me. I know that I have something to offer just for being me (a Latina) and who I am and what I represent. I think it is super important to just keep showing up. If anything, that has been the secret to my success.

One of the most eagerly awaited shows of the fall season, "Jane The Virgin", will premiere on the CW network on Monday, October 13, 2014. For more information, click here. The film Superfast will hit theaters in 2015.

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