Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Detective Rosa Diaz in NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, has no shortage of praise for her co-stars. Talking with Remezcla during this year’s Winter Television Critics Association (TCA) about the sitcom’s upcoming seventh season, she immediately lights up when discussing her fellow actors. Considering she’s been working alongside the likes of Terry Crews and Andy Samberg for close to a decade, it’s hard not to see in her words a reminder of how truly funny this underrated ensemble remains.
And while Beatriz is eager to see where Rosa’s storylines go this season (don’t expect many more tidbits about her personal life this time around, she cautions), she admits that she’s most excited about audiences getting to see new facets of her co-stars. She’s particularly tickled about audiences seeing a different side of Andre Braugher’s recently demoted captain Holt. Where Braugher’s pitch-perfect comedy has long come from being a stone-faced straight man to the kooky 9-9 fam, Beatriz promises we’ll see him loosen up more as he tries to regain his stature. But it’s Melissa Fumero for whom Beatriz reserves her warmest admiration. “She’s absolutely brilliant,” she gushes. “She is like a Latina Lucille Ball. And her face! It’s like she has a beautiful rubber mask, almost.”
The actress most recently guest starred alongside Fumero on an episode of One Day at a Time all about the various ways queer Latinas decide to present themselves to the world. Beatriz beams when I mention how much that episode has touched audiences. To her, the ability to play someone like Rosa, who came out as bisexual and got a love interest played by Gina Rodriguez, and to then play a lesbian cousin on One Day at a Time, is a reminder of how far conversations about visibility and representation have come. Far from seeing “diversity” as some sort of empty buzzword, Beatriz stresses how such portrayals expand our own notions of what characters and what stories take center stage.
“In this industry,” she notes, “who the hero is is changing and shifting rapidly. It’s like a kaleidoscope lens: it used to be this certain thing and now we’ve flipped and turned it, and now it’s so many versions of what maybe was once only one thing.”
She goes even further by quoting the musical Mame (“Life is a banquet and most poor bastards are starving to death!”) pointing out that the last decade does feel like, finally, the queer and Latinx communities are starting to find more shows and movies that nourish them. Up ahead, of course, is what promises to be one of the most lavish examples of such progress, the big-screen adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights musical, where Beatriz plays Carla, one of the girls who works at Daniela’s salon.
When I tell Beatriz that — much like everyone else on the planet — I was floored by the film’s first trailer and that I truly had not been ready for just how fabulous it looked, she smiles.
“I think you’re not ready. I mean, I wasn’t ready! I wasn’t ready to get swept up in a project that felt like I have new family members now. I wasn’t ready to meet Daphne Rubin-Vega on the first day of rehearsal. I was sure as hell not ready for that. I wasn’t ready for how much Dascha Polanco would ultimately make me laugh and then have something so brilliant to say about her place in the world as a black and Latina woman. I wasn’t ready for the talent that Corey Hawkins and Leslie Grace and Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera have. I wasn’t ready.”
For her it was a beautiful whirlwind of a ride that she’ll treasure forever. Knowing how much audiences around the world love the stage musical made wading into it a challenge. (As was the grueling choreography she had to learn.) But when they wrapped and she flew back home, she knew that she’d given it all.
“I left it all out there,” she adds. “Like, I did everything that I could to make it the best that I thought it could be. I think that every single cast member feels that way. It’s something that we’ll never forget.” And yes, she can’t wait for everyone to see the finished film this summer.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns February 6, 2020, at 8 p.m. on NBC.