Latina women are becoming a regular presence on television and the big screen. From the groundbreaking performances of Sonia Braga in the late 80s to Academy Award–winning and nominated performances of Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, Latina women are making an indelible imprint in Hollywood.
Nowadays, Latina women don’t have to just play the stereotypical exotic, docile beauties or the fiery sex kittens that Rita Moreno and Rita Hayworth played half a century ago. The roles are becoming more diverse and multi-layered, particularly for Latina actresses in their 20s and 30s. And the good news, an accent is not necessarily an impediment.
Sol Rodriguez is primed to be one of those Latina breakout actresses. With her new role on the fourth season of “Devious Maids,” this Argentinean beauty will get the chance to show the width and breath of her acting chops.
Fashion Reverie was given the opportunity to chat with Sol (short for Soledad) Rodriguez on the eve of the premiere of the new season of “Devious Maids.”
Fashion Reverie: You are from Argentina; did you aspire as a child to become an actress?
Sol Rodriguez: I never wanted to be an actor as a child; I just kind of stumbled on it. I moved to Miami when I was a teenager and I signed with a talent agency in Miami to do commercials for extra money. The agency sent me to an acting audition although it was not my intention to become an actress. At any rate, I learned my lines and I got the job that turned out to be on Nickelodeon’s teen show “Grachi.” And I have been in the acting field ever since.
FR: So, in some sense acting was by accident.
Sol Rodriguez: Exactly. When I got the job on “Grachi” I had never taken one acting lesson. I was studying travel and tourism in college and when I landed the lead role on “Grachi,” I had no time for my studies, so I had to make a choice, and I chose acting.
FR: From “Grachi” you started acting in Spanish telenovelas. Could you talk about that?
Sol Rodriguez: From “Grachi” I moved to acting in Spanish telenovelas; three to be exact. And about a year and a half ago I made the big move to Los Angeles to expand my choices of roles.
Moving to Los Angeles was scary. It was like starting all over again because I was working on Spanish telenovelas nonstop in Miami. I had a very secure acting life working on Spanish telenovelas, also my family lived in Miami.
It was a hard decision, but I knew I wanted to work in the American market. I knew the writing and directing in Hollywood was better than what I was getting in Spanish telenovelas. The work on those kinds of soap operas was no longer fulfilling. I am not the typical Spanish telenovela female leading glamorous character with big hair and lots of curves, so the roles were limited to me always playing ingénue supporting roles.
I just wanted more diversity in roles and more opportunity. I grateful for the opportunity Spanish telenovelas gave me, but it was time to move on. I knew I could reinvent myself in Hollywood and go after roles that were grittier and more multidimensional.
FR: Let’s talk about your character, Daniela Mercado on “Devious Maids”?
Sol Rodriguez: She is a new character this season on “Devious Maids.” I play Carmen’s (Rosalyn Sanchez) cousin who has come to Los Angeles from Puerto Rico to pursue an entertainment career. I crash in on Carmen’s life and unintentionally make her life miserable. Daniela is young and very impressionable, and creates a lot of drama. Daniela also finds out that Carmen is not really her cousin, but her mother.
FR: We know that you love clothes because you’ve been voted 10 Best Dressed for the 2013 Latin Billboard Music Awards. That said; who are some of your favorite designers and how would you describe style?
Sol Rodriguez: I really like Calvin Klein for the simplicity of the brand’s design. The clothes are very easy to wear due to the minimalist aesthetic employed throughout the collections. Also, I don’t like clothes that fit too tightly and you can be comfortable and chic and Calvin Klein allows me to be that.
My personal style is very eclectic. I lived in Guatemala for a few years and fell in love with the indigenous culture, so you will see tribal prints and indigenous designs pop up in some of the things I wear. I like to mix Central American design motifs with vintage clothes from the 90s.
I really like to be comfortable, so you will not see me in high heels unless I am attending a red-carpet event. I like to wear crop tops with loose-fitting jeans, and tennis shoes. I like to mix in a lot of different style from all over the world that expresses my mood and how I feel.
FR: How would you describe fashion in Argentina?
Sol Rodriguez: Fashion in Argentina is all over the place. I left Argentina when I was eight and I went back to visit when I was sixteen and a couple of years ago, so my opinions are based on visiting, not living there. However, when I visited my homeland, I saw women wearing platform shoes with boyfriend jeans and crazy floppy hats.
Women in Argentina don’t wear a lot of makeup; they prefer the natural look. I never wore makeup until my early 20s, and even now I don’t like to wear a lot of makeup. I guess I get that from my Argentinian roots.
Some of the fashion is very European with very loose-fitting clothes, not showing off your curves. Just dressing to be comfortable with a sense of individual style.
FR: In popular conversation, there is a lot of conversation of there are not being enough roles for Latina women in Hollywood. But we see that changing with “Devious Maids,” and Sophia Vergara in “Modern Family.” What has been your experience?
Sol Rodriguez: I am very excited to be living in the era where there are more opportunities for Latina women. This progression is very new and I am a part of it!! A couple years ago it was very difficult for someone who looked different and spoke English with an accent. But, that is changing, for me to have such a big role on “Devious Maids,” is incredible, I feel so lucky.
I look Latin, Sophia Vergara, Rosalyn Sanchez and Eva Longoria, we all look Latin, not a European version of a Latina woman. I hope girls we look like me, and have an accent will see that it is possible to look Latina, have an accent and be successful in Hollywood.
FR: You love to give back to your community with such non-profits as the International Women’s House and PETA Latino, could talk about that?
Sol Rodriguez: Actors have a lot of free time between acting and other projects. I have been so lucky to have the kind of life I have, so why not give back to people that are less fortunate. And because I am in a career where I have downtime between projects why not volunteer to charities and give back. I volunteer at shelters in Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.
I have volunteered to help at a pet shelter here in LA. In Atlanta, I volunteered for refugee kids in a shelter. I would help them with homework and social activities. In Miami, I would always rally and protest outside of big circuses against their cruelty to animals.
FR: What’s next for you?
Sol Rodriguez: I have two English-speaking movies in post-production. I am in “Going Under” with Bruce Willis and the other is “You Are Going to Miss Me.” And I am waiting for the premiere for the fourth season of “Devious Maids” which airs on June 6.
“Devious Maids” season four premieres on the Lifetime Channel on June 6, 9PM, EST.
—William S. Gooch