Fox’s new sitcom The Mick, starring It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s very funny Kaitlin Olson, takes place in Greenwich, Connecticut. The affluent Pembertons, who are on the run from the law after being accused of fraud and tax evasion, have left their three spoiled children in the care of Olson’s Mickey. And while day-drinking and devil-may-care Mickey loves nothing more than to live in her niece and nephews’ mansion, she’s not quite adept at the whole parenting thing. Thankfully she has some help in the Pemberton’s actual help: Alba, their maid, played by Carla Jimenez.
But that description alone doesn’t do justice to what The Mick creators Dave and John Chernin have gifted Jimenez. Best-known for her work as Rosa on Raising Hope and Blanca in Last Man Standing, the Cali-born actress is having a great time chewing into this meaty role. You see, Alba is not your average “Latina maid in a sitcom.” Not only do her own misadventures get equal time in each episode, but she’s never a punchline. Just look at the show’s second episode where we see her let loose on the dance floor after Mickey slips some drugs in her new BFF’s drink. Or in the latest episode, where she finds time while looking for the Pemberton kids at a party to give a bongo-filled rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” It’s the kind of three-dimensional and all-out hilarious role Jimenez has always longed to play.
Remezcla caught up with Jimenez to talk about landing The Mick, flipping the Latina maid archetype on its head, and doting on her “cat-dogs.” Check out some highlights from our chat below.
‘The Mick’ airs Tuesday nights on Fox.
On Her Comedic Inspirations
I was obsessed and I still love Lucille Ball. I Love Lucy—I would watch those marathons all the time. I just liked her timing and always just thought she was so funny, even decades later that show still holds up. With her physicality, just everything. And I loved reading about it, and what I really loved was hearing about all the things Desi Arnaz came up with. He was so smart. I admired that he was on TV. It wasn’t just this pressing thing that there was a Latino on TV, but I guess I saw that somebody was there. But it was just cool. And he was also so funny in his subtlety. Growing up I loved SNL. I have such a girl crush on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig, just how funny they are. I tend to gravitate to watching people’s subtleties and how they can make people laugh.
On Auditioning for Latino Roles When You’re Not Fluent In Spanish
The Mick was presented to me not in any way special. It was just like, “Here’s another audition.” And I’d just come off another audition where I speak Spanish — I mean I can understand it better than I can speak it, but I really can’t speak it and I never try to go under the guise to whomever is going to hire me that I’m somehow super fluent, you know? Like a telenovela-fluent. So I was just coming off of another audition where they kind of threw Spanish at me, and I didn’t know, so then my manager brought me The Mick and said, “Well, she’s a Latina maid in the house. Let me know how you are with the Spanish.”
But I read the script and there was no Spanish! As a matter of fact, it was actually super crazy and awesome. Like it was everything I ever wanted in terms of doing a part but never really given the opportunity. Not only because of playing a maid — normally you’re given one or two lines. I will say that I’ve been fortunate with Raising Hope, for example: they did things for me that were cool and gave my character a little chance to be different. But nothing super crazy like this. So the second I read the script I was like, “Wow! I love this scene.”
On Her Balls-Out Audition for ‘The Mick’
The scene they gave me was from the second episode, “The Grandparents”, where I get drugged. That’s what they gave me to audition! They told me that when you see the pilot, you see nothing. It’s that way for a reason, but they told me that they needed to see something so they took a script they had from 10 years ago, dusted it off and here you go, what can you do with it? I remember freaking out a little bit, thinking can I do this? I had to tell myself, “Look! This is what you’ve been waiting for: a chance to do something like this.” So when I went balls-out. You go for it, and go where it takes you. And it was a lot of fun. They were laughing so hard that I almost thought that they weren’t laughing at me! I thought like it was just the writing. I really couldn’t understand, and then I got to come back and read with Kaitlin. She was so much to play off of and work with. Then I got the role!
“I had to tell myself, ‘Look! This is what you’ve been waiting for: a chance to do something like this.’ So when I went balls-out.”
When I got the pilot script, which as you know doesn’t have that much in it for me, I remember they came to me and they were like “It’s like this for a reason. She’s going to break out.” I loved the idea that everybody thinks it’s going to be one way and they just want to settle into that and then the second she goes off and starts going on these adventures, it makes it all worth it. They were always very quick that she’s gonna be a three-dimensional character. And all the kids are too. I think everyone’s getting an opportunity in this show and I think that’s what makes it so special.
On Connecting With Fans On Social Media
It’s been really fun. We live-tweet every Tuesday as much as we can if we’re not working. I think it’s so much. I love interacting with people because one of the things that’s made me so excited is knowing, when I was filming this, how special it felt. And I really was thinking, “God, I hope the public responds to it and I hope they feel what I’m feeling.” When I’m live-tweeting and they’re so happy and that they’re dying laughing and they’re watching it multiple times. It makes me feel like, “Oh my gosh! They saw what I saw!” That interaction is great. The fans have been really amazing and supportive and I really thank them for that.
On Getting Weekly Progress Reports From Her Dad
What’s really funny is that, as long as I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had my dad call me immediately after. My dad gives me a progress report every Wednesday morning, the day after it airs. I get this progress report. He just calls me and tells me about the show, like I’m not on it. And then he ends by just like, “Ugh! That was such a good show. Okay, bye!” I love it and I wait for it every Wednesday morning. One of my favorite moments is the episode where we’re all smoking and Kaitlin had put these nicotine patches under her armpits. And he called me right after. What’s funny is that my mom and my dad are the accents that I do on the show. My dad called me: “Oh, I saw the show the last night. It was really good. Oh, Kaitlin is so crazy! When she put the patches on! She’s crazy. Okay, bye.” Like, that was my Wednesday morning review.
On Her Quirky Kitties
I have two: Joey, who’s my orange and creamsicle kitty I rescued about 7 years ago. About a year ago I rescued another kitty, Max, and he’s a black and white tuxedo. The reason I got Max is because Joey, who’s a very sweet but very dependent kitty, and I was feeling like he needed a friend because I was leaving more and more. So I got Max and now they’re best friends and they love each other. Max can actually play fetch. He loves hair bands, that’s his thing. You can throw a hair band in mid-air and he’ll jump and grab it and bring it back to you. And then Joey, which is weird, this just started happening in the past six months: I’ll be doing my hair before leaving and he’ll come into the bathroom and just sit on the closed toilet seat and actually wait for me to finish so that I can then turn the hairdryer on him. I put it on warm and just blow-dry his hair for like 30 seconds and then just walks away. It’s the funniest thing. I love them, they’re like my cat-dogs.