Even within the large expanse of Shannon Hall, Fox and NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actress Stephanie Beatriz delivered an incredibly intimate interview regarding her experiences as a bisexual Latina woman in the entertainment industry.
Growing up, she described her affinity for theatrical roles. According to Beatriz, theater generally employed “colorblind” casting while movies she watched as a child rarely had non-white actresses.
Beatriz expresses her frustration at people’s ignorance about this issue.
“Colorblindness [in film] isn’t a thing,” Beatriz said. “People who say that likely live in a system that allows them to say it.”
After living in New York for eight years, Beatriz described her disillusionment in terms of her life and profession.
“I had been hired at the Shakespeare Festival so many times in a row, I was losing a grip on New York and thought, ‘Why don’t I save some money and go down to L.A?'” Beatriz said.
Following her performance in a few plays in Los Angeles, she expressed her luck in acquiring an agency to help her land jobs on television. Beatriz discussed the difficulties of getting hired as a person of color, but she still had ambitions to be a part of an established TV show.
Beatriz laughed as she recounted speaking with the agency early on.
“I remember telling my agency I wanted to be in something like ‘Parks and [Recreation],'” Beatriz said. “‘Please get me something like ‘Parks and [Recreation].””
Beatriz then went on to describe her early interactions with the writing staff and directors of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” an action-comedy TV series where she plays badass detective Rosa Diaz.
“I got an audition and the script had no title,” Beatriz said. “It just said ‘Untitled Pilot Project’ by Mike Shur and Dan Goor. I was so excited.”
She further explained her original interaction with the show.
“I originally auditioned for the role of Amy Santiago because it was delineated in the script that she was Latina,” Beatriz said.
The casting director saw potential and made her read another role instead.
Beatriz said the original name for the role of Rosa Diaz was Meghan. The description of the character was “fiery and red-headed.”
“I think they were initially trying to create an Irish cop character,” Beatriz said.
The weeks following her initial audition, she got a callback for both Amy and Meghan. Beatriz stated she did a screen test, and was eventually cast in the role of Meghan, who eventually became Rosa Diaz.
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Beatriz gave insight into the ninety-ninth episode of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” where Rosa comes out as bisexual to Charles Boyle, another detective on the show, and a good friend of hers.
Beatriz talked about the process of creating Rosa as a bisexual character.
“I always played Rosa as queer,” Beatriz said. “There were clues in the script, like early on she says Tonya Harding was hot. There was always a joyful sexual tension with Gina Linetti.”
The character Gina Linetti, played by Chelsea Peretti, is an eccentric administrator on the show.
Beatriz described her own coming out story, where she came out as bisexual to some family and friends. She then shared how she accidentally came out publicly on Twitter. According to Beatriz, people’s reaction to her coming out went back to her role as Rosa, where they began to question Rosa’s sexuality on the show.
Beatriz recounted a conversation she had with the series creator Dan Goor.
“He called and asked me if I would be interested in exploring Rosa as queer, specifically as bisexual,” Beatriz said.
She said with her experiences as a bisexual person, she thought it would be good to portray that for others watching the show.
She further described the intersectionality of her identities, both as a bisexual woman and a person of color.
“I was particularly interested in the specificness of what it means to be a Latinx and to be queer,” Beatriz said.
This, Beatriz said, stemmed from her desire to represent a community that hasn’t always been accepted before.
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She reflected on her current struggles as a bisexual woman beyond her professional life.
“Coming out to my parents wasn’t even an option,” Beatriz said. “I came out to my sister, and she said, ‘don’t tell mom and dad.’ That’s a crushing thing to hear — it essentially means to hide who you are.”
Even now as an LGBTQ+ activist, Beatriz said she still doesn’t talk about her sexuality with her parents.
Difficulties in her personal life prompted Beatriz to ask the screenwriters to make sure they explicitly stated Rosa’s identity as bisexual and to ensure it was stated more than once. She wanted to see a depiction of her real-life struggles.
Beatriz also spoke about her main aims for the future.
“I’m excited to see the landscape of television continue to change so it can more honestly reflect what the American public really looks like,” Beatriz said.
She concluded by expressing her hope to be a part of this change in the TV landscape with both “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and her upcoming musical drama “In the Heights.”