“Devious Maids” actress Paula Garces is one busy woman. In addition to her prolific acting career, the actress is busy promoting her comic creation, Aluna which will have a trilogy of graphic novels this October published by Allegory Media. Garces is set to introduce the first book at this year’s New York Comic-Con from October 10th through 13th.
“I was invited to come for the first time about 4 years ago. I was promoting “Knight Rider,” “The Shield” and “Harold and Kumar” at the time,” Garces said on how the creation of Aluna began. “I loved it. I also very quickly realized that there weren't any Latina superheroes that were really cool or really being represented the right way. So I started to play around with an alter ego of mine named Aluna. Basically I came up with a concept that was all inclusive to everyone. Aluna is very Latina. It has to elements of history and fiction and adventure…but I wanted it to be all inclusive to everyone.”
“We really wanted to do a strong female lead so we met,” adds Chad Smith of CEO of Allegory Media, who sat in on the interview. “I also wanted to get into the Latin space as well. So it was kind of like worlds colliding…so we started talking a little bit and she was the perfect character; strong, she's independent, she's beautiful…she's everything that if you had to take a bunch of adjectives and lay them out on paper. For us it was a perfect fit so now we have the trilogy. The first book comes out at New York Comic Con.”
The writers of the trilogies are the same writers behind the hugely successful “Assassin's Creed.” For any aspiring artists or writers out there who read Garces’ story and wants to get into the business as a result, both the actress and Smith have some ideas, mainly to put it out there and don’t give up.
“I think it’s a community… there's a lot of great websites where you can get artists if you just have an idea, write it down,” Garces said. “If it happens to make sense to you and you're enjoying it there's a lot of websites out there were you going to hire artists to do a book for you… and you can create a comic book for yourself or something online you're not a lot of money actually… I didn't write this whole story by myself I can't draw at all (laughs). It's all about community, just opening up and being able to ask for help.”
“We do a lot of mentoring,” adds Smith. “There's not a lot of mentoring anymore and it kind of makes me sad. There are these young people who are tossed out into the world without anyone to really guide them. I was guided. I'd love that I sought it out in undergrad and graduate school. So we do it here … at Allegory…what I would encourage people to do is merely to show it to people. I think artists and folks are a little worried they're going to get a bad reaction from someone. You got to let that go. …Just got to try and put it out there. There are…kick starters which makes funding the projects that much easier.”
Smith also encourages artists to submit directly to the companies they are interested in and not to be afraid to hear “no” at the beginning. feel people that have the courage and submit and be okay with not getting what they want right now “nos” are okay.
Garces actress applies the same mentality to her acting career as well.
“I've heard [no] a lot but I didn't process it as “no,” she said about auditioning. “I didn't hear “no” (laughs). What I heard was feedback. What I did not hear was that my goal was not possible. I come from humble beginnings. I was born and raised in Spanish Harlem, New York…a single mother, which I don't mind talking about. I was a mom at 17… I told everybody that I was going to be an actress in Hollywood one day. People looked at me like I was crazy. And I thought either I'm delusional or just someone who doesn't believe in “no”…like this wouldn't even be possible for me. So even though I got pregnant at an early age, I found the means to get a GED and keep up with my studies well I went on the audition I've been very lucky. I love what I do…this is my dream. I'm living it and loving it.”
Part of that dream is appearing in Lifetime Television’s hit freshmen show, “Devious Maids.” Garces plays Flora, a maid, whose tragic murder kicks off the show in an intriguing murder mystery.
The show has already been renewed for season two. So on the show, will Flora’s story be finished by the end of season one or will it roll over into some of season two? The actress shares her thoughts on the subject. (The news of “Devious Maids” renewal had not been announced at the time of this interview.)
“We are definitely going to find out the who’s and how’s,” Garces says of Flora’s story. “... That much I can say safely (laughs). But is it finished for Flora? I will give this. It's not exactly clear as a season ender, I mean a season finale. So what I'm hoping is and I think what Lifetime and the creator's like Marc Cherry and the producers of the show are hoping is, …I think if they get enough feedback and people are curious about Flora or me coming back in some capacity to the show, then I would I hope that people rise up and say ‘We didn't get enough of Flora or we want Paula Garces to come back somehow someway.’ And since it's that kind of the show, like very “night-time soapy,” Marc Cherry would do that.
You know the power is in the fans and the viewers and in the numbers. So I'm hoping, if enough people say ‘we really love her as that character’ or really, really love the character of Flora that they can bring her back. There are so many capacities that that can happen… whether it’s twin, a cousin that looks a lot like her or just more flashbacks. I'm totally game for it because I'm having a blast I love working with everyone on “Devious Maids.”
The actress is very proud of the show and praises creator Marc Cherry and the Latina leads for the show’s success.
“Mark Cherry is an incredible writer,” beams Garces. “He’s game for anything and definitely made it a point to make the set very light and happy for everybody. As far as working with all the girls, I didn't get a lot of time with any of the girls but I knew a lot of girls personally from working in the business. I'm just so happy and proud that finally there's a show that stars all five Latinas as the leads, who I love and you're doing an amazing job.”
What was her opinion on the controversy that had some groups from the Latino community criticizing the show for having the leads portraying maids, and not some other profession? Garces reflected on her own family history for her answer.
“I was really shocked that there was controversy out there from Latino groups, boycotting the show because it was portraying maids. When I first heard the pilot, I was kind of taken aback a little taken aback…For the first time there was going to be five Latin Latinos stars and they were going to be playing maids? But I very quickly got a slap in the face from my grandmother who came into this country in the early 1960s and was a maid. She was like ‘Paula, how very quickly do you forget our history here. I worked as a maid and was very proud to work as a maid. You know…have a great living and because it, I was able to bring my whole family to this country. That’s why you're an actress today (laughs).
After she said that to me, there was a light bulb in my head. Why would a doctor’s or a lawyer’s story be more important than my grandmother’s story as a Latina maid? And whether we like it or not, that's been our history here.
At and the end of the day, we're not curing cancer. We're providing entertainment. The fact that social issues and questions are even being discussed, we're proud of that. That means we're breaking some boundaries and making people think. That's kind of cool as far as being an entertainer goes. That's really all you can hope for, but I'm very proud of the show. It’s really well done and if anybody has any type of second thoughts, I say ‘just watch it. I challenge you to watch it once. Not only are you going to be hooked because it’s that good and that funny and that sexy, but you see very quickly that it’s the maids that are the heroes of the show. They’re not ridiculous and not being made fun of. They really are the heroes of the show and I'm very proud of that.”
And what does the actress think of her character as the season progresses?
“Flora is scandalous, honey,” Garces says. “She's no angel…she's not an angel at all. She's a woman on a mission. You know, she came to this country for one thing and one thing only, to be rich, no matter what. You’ve got to admire that tenacity in people. It may not concur with my morals, but there are some people that live that way. And who am I to judge. But I don't care if people love her, love to hate her or hate her…just talk about her.”
On “All My Children,” which wraps its first season on September 2nd, Garces plays FBI Agent Lea Marquez. The actress enjoys working on the show and praises working with Thorsten Kaye, who plays fan favorite Zach Slater on the show.
“It's amazing. He's an amazing actor,” she said of working with Kaye. “He's very, very giving and has a lot of creativity. He thinks on his toes. For people that don't know, soap operas are filmed at a very, very fast pace. We work very, very hard in order for it to be good. He’s just a great partner to work with because he's very professional, and just knows… He’s very funny and he not only keeps me laughing but I'm sure the audience too. They love him and his stories, so it's great. I'm glad to be a part of that.”
Garces also hopes that being on the iconic soap will help expand her female audience.
“It's good for me because I really want to expand my female audience,” she said. “I find that a lot of women who love “Devious Maids,” there's a lot of men too who are loving “Devious Maids,” but a lot of women who love “Devious Maids” are also following me through my journey on “All My Children.” We shoot in Connecticut and since it's a little bit of a hard schedule we really have to like each other and we do. I really like coming into a show that has so many loyal fans that are willing to watch it on the internet on the moon or wherever they can find it (laughs) and now that is on OWN, we're just so proud because even Oprah tweets about us and she allows people to watch it on her network... it's been a really, really cool experience.
So what’s ahead for her character when the show goes back into production and how will her real life pregnancy (the actress is expecting her second child in November) factor in?
“By now I think that must people know that I'm pregnant,” Garces said. “I have no idea yet. I don't know if they're going to try and hide the pregnancy. I'm not going to stress about that. I'll let the production company and the wardrobe department deal with that (laughs). But they've been very giving. The writers are really, really cool. I know they have some great ideas for the Zach and Lea storyline.”
And what about Zach and his feelings for Kendall as the show hints about in its upcoming September 2nd season finale?
“[Alicia Minshew’s] coming back too,” Garces said. “…So it’s going to be great for the three of us. I think the fact that Lea Marquez is there is going to give Kendall a lot of heat to play off of....and vice versa.”
With Garces juggling so many things with the Aluna launch, shooting AMC, promoting Maids and even adding another job as soon-to-be writer for “People Magazine’s” Celebrity Baby Blog, one can’t help but wonder if plans for time-off is in her near future.
“All My Children” works for seven more weeks and that's what I'm scheduled to work for,” Garces said. “So I will still be pregnant. After that I'm definitely going to take a little bit of a breather as far as working goes. I actually have to deliver a baby (laughs), …give birth to someone and then I'm going to take a little time. It's very easy. I live very close to where we film “All My Children.” The set is very baby friendly. The schedule is hectic but it’s not nothing that any other working woman doesn't go through. There are women that work with babies and kids, so I'm sure manage it. I managed it before when I had Skye 21 years ago, I'll manage it now. I have a lot of help but I am going to take a little time to get myself together.”
“Devious Maids” airs Sundays on Lifetime and check out “All My Children” episodes Mondays, leading up to the Season One Finale, Monday, September 2nd on Hulu, iTunes and on toln.com.
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