Isabella Gomez went from playing a teenager – Elena Alvarez in One Day at a Time – to playing a teacher – Alicia Gomez in Head of the Class – in what feels like the blink of an eye. And though the two characters aren’t exactly the same, there’s a vibe to both of them that is purely Isabella Gomez.
Remezcla had a chance to talk to the actress about Head of the Class, this new wave of projects from our communities, and what she’d like to do next. And one thing was obvious right away: for Gomez, the transition from Elena to Alicia felt as abrupt as it did for us. But just like we settled into watching Alicia, Gomez settled into playing her very easily.
Particularly because, as the actress shared with us, Alicia and Elena are actually pretty similar in many ways. For Gomez, however, Alicia feels like a great next step and a character that she had a lot of fun playing. “Alicia has a really pure soul,” she told us. “She’s really excitable, and she wants to pretend like she doesn’t care, like she’s just passing through.” But Alicia “was just kind of engineered to care.”
As Alicia is a teacher, that means caring for her students, and also, perhaps, relating to them in a way older teachers can’t. “We had a lot of fun playing with the idea of a really young teacher,” she told us, particularly because Gomez herself is blessed with what she herself described as a babyface. According to her, if she’s not wearing makeup, she can look really young.
But the show uses that, not just as a way to introduce comedy, but also as a way to give Alicia’s character an in with the kids she’s trying to win over – a group that looks much more diverse than the original did, something that, for Gomez, should be the norm.
Just as movies like Encanto, West Side Story, and In the Heights should be one of many. But though Gomez would have loved to be involved with any of them – if any fancy people are reading this interview, she’ll take a call about any project like those – she was very clear that “more than anything we need to learn how to lift each other up and understand when it’s other’s people’s moment and when it’s your own.”
She’s more than happy to throw support at all stories centering our communities.
And, as for what she’d like to do next, Gomez has a clear answer: more drama. “I love comedy, it feels like home, and I think I’ll always kind of come back to that, but I want to show range.”
If you ask us, both One Day at A Time and Head of the Class have allowed her to showcase different sides of her acting, but we’re still happy to support her in whatever she wants to do next, even if her next project ends up making us cry more than laugh. More Isabella Gomez is always a good thing.
You can watch Isabella Gomez in Head of the Class, which is available to stream on HBO Max.