Cast of ‘East Los High’ Talks Emmy Nominations & Making TV History on Hulu’s First Latino Series

Christina Milian and Vannessa Vasquez on the set of 'East Los High'. Photo by: Todd Williamson/Hulu

On July 15, Hulu will release East Los High’s third season. The show is set in a high school in East L.A. and never shies away from juicy drama. For two seasons, we’ve seen characters get pregnant, contract HIV, and learn some lessons along the way. This season will dive into drug trafficking, child abuse, and abusive relationships. Don’t worry, the Bomb Squad is still there and better than ever – now it’s co-ed!

It’s easy to dismiss the series as an hour-long after school special, but what this show is doing is unique. Everyone involved, from creators Carlos Portugal and Kathleen Bedoya, to casting director Blanca Valdez, to the on-screen talent, has Latin blood flowing. Hulu doesn’t disclose rating numbers, but with three Emmy nominations and a highly anticipated third season packed with guest stars, we can assume the show’s doing well.

I got a chance to speak with cast members Vannessa Vasquez (Camila), Danielle Vega (Ceci), and Gabe Chavarria (Jacob). After learning that I was Puerto Rican and singing Nina Sky’s “Oye Mi Canto,” it got real – East Los High style. Check out our conversation below.

“We’re also creating something that’s being done for the very first time, not only for us [as actors], but for our people…”

The actors on bonding

Remezcla: Did you guys bond on set?

Gabe: We didn’t know each other beforehand.

Danielle: Most of us met on set, which says a lot about our skillz. [laughs]

Vannessa: We’re also creating something that’s being done for the very first time, not only for us [as actors], but for our people, so it’s almost like we’re all bonding together. We’re being heroes for everyone that’s to come. The more we can collaborate and build something strong together, then we know that that can open more doors for people in the entertainment industry. Not just for the entertainment industry, but for the whole nation. It’s putting us out there in a better light.

Vannessa Vasquez. Photo by: Todd Williamson/Hulu
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“Sometimes as an actor, when you’re first starting out, you wonder if you’re doing things right.”

On the Emmy nominations

Vannessa: I think it was a “pinch me” moment. I was actually kind of sad, because I’d broken up with my boyfriend at the time [imitates crying]. Then I got the Emmy nom and I was like, “Yeah! Who was I dating?”

Danielle: I was at home by myself and ran around the house screaming. I was like, [excitedly] “Oh my God!”

On the show’s writers having their backs and vice versa

Vannessa: For the most part, [the writers] really take care of what’s in the script. There are about 50 non-profit organizations that influence the script, so they are very particular about what we say and what we do. They take care of that and the image of the whole show.

Gabe: Our creators trust us in our characters, so they know that if something’s not right –

Vannessa: – that we’ll let ‘em know.

Gabe Chavarria
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“We all think we’re in high school still.”

Danielle on portraying a woman in an abusive relationship

I think with [my character] Ceci, she depends so much on Pedro [her physically abusive fiancé], that she needs to say yes [to him] to take care of herself. For me, that was kind of a struggle because you want her to say yes, you want her her to be able to change him and make him a better person, but ultimately, you have to realize that no one’s going to change unless they absolutely want to.

Vannessa on working with JD Pardo and Christina Milian

They’re both super talented. I learned so much. Sometimes as an actor, when you’re first starting out, you wonder if you’re doing things right. Then you see somebody else [with experience] and you’re doing the same thing. You’re all vibing with the same energy. There’s magic happening. For me, it was a huge learning experience. I was so thankful to have them there.

Danielle Vega. Photo by: Laura Ann/Hulu
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Danielle on table reads

Anytime the characters have a huge makeout scene, everyone’s like, [in unison] “Ooooh!” It goes back to high school. We all think we’re in high school still.

East Los High’s third season premieres July 15, 2015 on Hulu.