Actress Leslie Lopez Talks Bad Girls, Dark Days and Power [ULx Exclusive]

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Photo courtesy of Starz

Photo courtesy of Starz

By: Dove

If you’re a fan of Starz’ hit show Power, then you know all about the beautifully lethal assassin Pink Shoes. Played by Leslie Lopez, the character became a ganster-stabbing scene stealer in season one, and a prime target in season two. But what do we know about this captivating Columbian-born, New York-based actress?

Here’s a start: Lopez has a B.A. in Political Science and a Minor in Film Studies from The University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is touted as being bilingual, but you could make that multi-lingual since she also studied French at The University of Paris-Sorbonne. She also has a Masters of Fine Arts from Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, and is a part of the Intensive Ensemble at the Labyrinth Theater Company.

Ok, brains and beauty – check!

Now with over a decade of experience working in indie film and television, Lopez has found a hit with Power. Next year she will be appearing in the new Sci-Fi series Dystopia, currently in production, alongside Eric Roberts and Michael Madsen.

In this exclusive interview, Leslie Lopez tells us about working with the likes of Omari Hardwick and 50 Cent in Power, her thoughts on being typecast as a bad girl, the importance of repping for her culture, and why dark days have often been a source of inspiration in her career. Read on…

How does it feel to be recognized everywhere you go?

Leslie Lopez: I’m not sure I’m getting recognized everywhere I go, but the show is certainly a major hit, and anywhere you go people love talking about it and love the character. They’re really relating to the story and to these complex characters. Being a part of this show I’m speechless, because I’ve never done anything on this level and it’s been an amazing experience.

At the end of the day, I have to say that I’ve been spoiled working with this cast and crew because they are the most talented and so supportive and welcoming to someone like me who hasn’t had a lot of experience, and really just embraced me coming onto their team. It’s just something I’m always going to be grateful for. This is an amazing group of people, and of course it all comes from [Power creator] Courtney Kemp Agboh, it all trickles down from her. This is all her mastery at work.

Do you worry about just getting offered bad girl roles because you do it so well? Or is that something you welcome?

LL: Definitely something I welcome. I’ve been grinding it out in this business for about 10 years now, and work is work. You want to put your best effort and craft to any role that you are given. Like they say, there are no small roles, just small actors or performances.

I count my blessings. This is a blessing, and I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity, and what I’m going to do is bring all of my experience, education, training and passion to this role and do the best that I can and go with it. Everything’s an opportunity. If I’m given a bad girl role, then I’m gonna try to be the best bad girl that has ever come, that my job as an actress and that’s why I’m doing this.

It’s also to bring my perspective, my experience, my background, my culture… what I know and what my experience has been to this bad girl. It’s an opportunity to bring forth your unique self through any character. I have been working on a few projects where I play the villain again, and I love it. It’s fun, I get to work, I’m on set and it’s the happiest place on earth for me.

I’m a film buff. I love movies, television, and plays so it’s fun to learn about weapons and stunts and being the villain. It’s exciting, and I grew up watching so many movies like that, so it’s really an amazing opportunity to play that. I love people like Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and all these amazing drama, suspense, thriller actresses that just kill it in these parts. I would love to continue doing that. If that’s what I’m given right now, then I’m gonna be very happy to take it.

What are some things you’d like to do to break the mold of what people think a Latina woman would be capable of in Hollywood, transcending stereotypes, etc.?

LL: I take this very seriously, because Latinos are such a huge market and yet we still have yet to really break through on a major level as far as meeting roles for us. I hope to become one of those people that are breaking those barriers, become the leading ladies and just not in this small niche. There’s so much more to us and so many stories and experiences to tell. Even within the Latino community there is so much diversity that hasn’t been exposed, discussed, or seen on the big screen or small screen.

It’s real important to have more Latinos coming out there and taking on these leading roles, and bringing forth their specific experiences. We’re at a very crucial moment right now, because the Latino population has grown so drastically in this country that it’s time for our stories to be told. It’s a great time, and hopefully more Latino actors and actresses are coming up and we’re going to have more opportunities just to show what real America looks like.

You mentioned that you’re a movie buff… If there is one movie you could remake, what would it be and what role would you play?

LL: Two of my favorite movies are Braveheart and True Romance. I would love to do a period piece on the Latino culture, like the Incas or something like that. Kind of like Braveheart, but the Latino version of it. I’m Colombian, so my people are the [native]people from the Amazon, so what’s their story? Something to talk about the amazing histories, cultures and civilizations that existed in the past. That would be amazing. Something like Braveheart, but a South American version.

Then True Romance being one of my favorite movies of all time, written by Quentin Tarantino. He’s one of my favorite directors. I love that movie and playing Patricia Arquette’s character would have been so amazing. I love that movie so much!

What are some things that you learned after you graduated that school never taught you?

LL: I already learned the hard way in L.A. living as a struggling actress… and that is the grind, the hustle. You are a walking business, and you have to have all of your tools. The training, the hustle, the business, being business savvy, all of that is so important. Roles aren’t gonna come knock on your door. No one is gonna come to your house and say “I want you to be in my movie”. You have to make the opportunities for yourself.

That I learned before, and certainly while I was in school and shared that with my classmates. Whoever wanted to hear, I would say “Listen, you gotta keep the grind going. You gotta keep the hustle and never stop. Whatever you do, you take a small opportunity and you run with it. Opportunities are very hard to come by in this business and you have to create them for yourself.”

That’s what I tried to do on Power. My role originally was only supposed to be for a few episodes, and I was just cast mostly as a stunt woman/actress. I took that opportunity that I am so grateful to have been given by Courtney and tried to bring the most that I could. Thankfully, they opened their doors to me and I was able to grow the character with Courtney.

Now Season 2 is all from hustling, and it’s so great because I’m working on show executive produced by 50 Cent, and there is no bigger hustler and opportunity maker than him. I don’t believe in coincidences. It’s just perfect that I’m working on a show of his, because that’s who I look up to. I look up to 50 Cent and I look up to Courtney Kemp Agboh. They’re making these big changes in the game and I admire that very much so.

Were there any points in your career where you gave up on having a shot like this, or did you always know that it would come?

LL: There are definitely ups and downs in this journey as an actor. I’m not gonna lie and say there haven’t been days where I say, “Am I doing the right thing? Is this ridiculous of me to think that this could happen?” I certainly have days like that, and I think all actors do. You can be an A-lister and finish a project and think “Now what?”

But I truly believe that if you have a Plan B, then Plan A will never work. I certainly feel that way so there is no option B for me. This is going to work, it has to work and I’m not looking back. I didn’t go this far to turn back now, there is no way. Yeah, there are days that I have my low moments, but those low moments are also an opportunity for you to pick yourself up and keep going even harder.

Those low moments are what also feed you in your craft too. Those dark days that you have, well when I’m working on a project and a character that’s going through those moments, I reflect on those moments that I’ve had personally and those moments of defeat. It’s part of life, and I’m grateful for the low and high moments. There is no turning back, there is no option B.

What do you want people to know most about you as a woman and as an artist at this stage of your life?

LL: I would like for people to know that I feel that I have a lot to bring to the table. I feel with all humility and gratefulness that I’m a force to be reckoned with, and it’s just starting. I want to be able to get out there and share my story, because at the end of the day we’re storytellers and I want to tell my story.

I have a lot to say and I’m bring my whole self into anything I do and I’m gonna bring my 100% to it. I’m gonna use everything that God has given me. Anything that God has blessed me with, I’m gonna bring that forth. Whether it’s my culture, my look, being from New York, being bilingual, all of it. I’m gonna bring that forth. So now, what’s next? Let’s go!

Follow Leslie Lopez on Twitter @TheLopezLopez and Instagram @LeslieLopezLopez

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