While Stan’s Vida has finished filming for good, the key messages about love, acceptance, gentrification and LGBTQ awareness is more poignant than ever.
Winner of the 2019 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series, the show which centred around a community in Mexico, had resounding success in its three-year run.
Starring Melissa Barrera, Mishel Prada, Ser Anzoategui, Chelsea Rendon, Carlos Miranda and Roberta Colindrez, the upcoming season, which returns on April 27 on Stan, see sisters Emma (Prada) and Lyn (Barrera) riding on the heels of success. Their bar is booming and their love lives are actually flourishing…until they discover a long-buried family secret that ruins their hard-won peace. Here, they find themselves face to face with old ghosts and new enemies, all while deciding if they can continue together as a family or if they should move on alone, for good this time.
In the lead up to the series premiere, TheLatch— chatted with Anzoategui, who plays the step-mother of the Hernandez sisters, Eddy.
Eddy is complex and this season will have to deal with more of what her late wife left her — lies and debt. “We’re going to see Eddy express herself in different ways,” Anzoategui said during the interview.
“We haven’t seen her deal with the realisation of Vidalia being a liar before — leaving her with nothing [and] thinking that she was married with all this hope, without realising that it’s going to leave her with no income and tension with her two daughters.”
While the storyline of the character is very important, Anzoategui, who is gender non-binary, has their own story to tell.
Here, they talk to TheLatch— about why playing a “LatinX butch lesbian” was fundamental to their career, and to the TV landscape in general, and the importance of being who you want to be.
Anita Lyons: Congratulations on such a successful series. This was your very first role. Did you think that you would make it this far?
Ser Anzoategui: (Laughs) Sometimes it just doesn’t feel real. It’s like a pinch-me because this is incredible. You put the show together, spend so much time on it and then the critics and press review it — and it’s so incredible to have them receive it in such a positive way that they did and say all the wonderful things that they said.
And then for my character Eddy and me playing Eddy — for that to be my first role, I think it is every actor’s dream.
There’s also hoping that it inspires other shows or creators to create shows that include someone who looks like me as part of the lead or as creators to hire brown, LatinX people to tell stories so that we can not only tell our own stories but tell others too.
AL: How important for you, as someone who identifies as non-binary, to be a part of this groundbreaking series?
SA: It’s been a privilege and an honour to play her.
It’s definitely one of the first [series] to include a butch lesbian as the main character and it’s like setting a precedent because, in some ways, you can kind of doubt if a non-binary actor could act in such a major role or if a butch lesbian could be the main character and here it is! It’s there. So it’s like proof that it can be done.
Hopefully, there will be more shows that include complex characters that could be transgender and that could be non-binary. I’m the second non-binary on cable and one of the first LatinX. Sara Ramirez (Grey’s Anatomy) is a non-binary actor on Madam Secretary and it’s such a big, pivotal role and has a lot of weight.
I hope it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I just hope it’s more normalised. It’s just that feeling of being the first. Sometimes the road is not paved and you’ve got to just hoe it out.
“I hope it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I just hope it’s more normalised. It’s just that feeling of being the first. Sometimes the road is not paved and you’ve got to just hoe it out.”
AL: I read this incredible piece you wrote for the LA Times called “Don’t call me an actress. In fact, let’s get rid of that title altogether” and I just loved the quote: “Discovering gender freedom improved so many aspects of my life”. Can you talk about that a little more?
SA: Well, I think it’s about discovering who you really are that is freeing.
I think because we are so conditioned to be attached to what our gender means; and how to express our gender; and how and what gender is when attached to our body parts — and we’re so obsessed with body parts — that we get stuck in that and the language that we use with that as well.
Once I started to realise how gendered the language I was using was, I saw why I was limiting my own self, because “word” is so powerful and when you put it out there, you’re saying, “I agree to this and this is my system of belief” and that’s a powerful intention and that’s where the power is. Without that, I was lost.
I was like, “I know who I am” but I was playing a part on the outside for the world to be OK with who I am but inside I’m not even that person.
“Word is so powerful and when you put it out there, you’re saying, “I agree to this and this is my system of belief” and that’s a powerful intention and that’s where the power is. Without that, I was lost.”
AL: Before this realisation, how did you use your gender?
SA: As a femme presenting before, I would use my breasts with cleavage because I thought, well this is my power, because when you take that away, then you really realize that you had power when you had boobs. People are responding to what you put out there. And this image of who you’re representing yourself through gestures, through your wardrobe, every way that you can express yourself and for me, I was just doing what everyone else was OK with.
If I did the other stuff, Lord, people would get mad at me. They would be uncomfortable and they would try to stop me from doing what I’m doing by making fun of me by trying to tell me “that’s not cool” because by me being free, people are like, “wait a minute, I also agreed to play this role.”
By breaking free and still walking through without getting employed — because sometimes people want queer, but they want the “pretty femme queer that” passes as straight for the fantasies of whoever, that kind of stuff does happen — [it’s a] sexualisation and sensualisation. So, it’s really like being able to stop that and look within and be able to express who this is. Me. Who I am and how I express myself.
It just allows me to be who I am and discover who I am more and there is still more, you know?
“They would be uncomfortable and they would try to stop me from doing what I’m doing by making fun of me by trying to tell me “that’s not cool”.”
AL: What message do you have for anyone who is struggling with identity or who is thinking of coming out?
SA: There are many different identities that you see throughout the show that could inspire how people express themselves. Just because things are happening in our life, doesn’t mean it’s forever that way and I think whatever is thrown at you that feels really difficult and you’re challenged and judged, do not internalise it.
It’s so easy to internalise because everyone is doing it.
I would also say, have a support system who you could come out to. Think ahead. If you do get rejected, what are your triggers with that? How can you ask for help? Who would you call? Who can you go to? Who can you see? Who can pick you up? Or who can be with you throughout it? There are different ways that you can find support because it’s so scary to do.
“There are many different identities that you see throughout the show that could inspire how people express themselves.”
AL: Can you tell me a little about your story?
SA: I never even came out to my father even when he was dying. I couldn’t because I felt like I would kill him or something. But that’s not the point. You come out when you want to come out and living without coming out sometimes isn’t worth it.
You have a life and that life is meant to be lived and it’s not meant to be lived for other people. The whole things with parents and family are so hard because you’re like: “they’re going to reject me” or “I’m not gonna be part of the family” and that kind of thinking.
Sometimes parents just want you to be who they want you to be and you’ve got to show them who you are. No matter what, stick to who you are. It doesn’t matter if your brothers, your sisters, all your siblings and cousins think otherwise, you still have to be who you are and just live that truth.
My family were a bit “bleh” until I booked Vida. I didn’t need Vida, but for them, it was something that they needed.
AL: What’s happening next in your career?
SA: Well, of course, everything is at a standstill. Like, I don’t even know when I’m going to next audition. Everything is really up in the air.
I’m writing and I’ve worked in theatre before, but the thing right now I’m focusing on is selling a script. That would be really good for right now in these times and hopefully, I could produce television, that what I really want to do. And act, of course, be in what I am producing and just produced really great work that is meaningful for others.
Catch the third and final season of Vida from Monday, April 27 only on Stan.
WATCH: TheLatch— Trivia: Mexico Edition with the stars of Stan’s Vida.