Mexican-American actress and leading role on Hulu’s East Los High, talks to us about her character “Camila” on the TV Latino teen drama.
Vannessa Vasquez shared with us a flashback to her ‘niñez’ and gives advice to our soon-to-be quinceaneras!
Q: How did acting become a part of your life?
A: It was something I started doing as a little girl in front of my grandma. I grew up with a single mother until I was 10 years old so I was left at home with my grandma and cousins. I’d put on little shows.
My tíos, tías, my cousins and whoever was there would be a part of my show. I was about 6 or 7 years old. Then in middle school I took theater classes, but college was when I made my decision that this is something I wanted to do.
Q: How did you hear about the role on East Los High?
A: You know it’s funny, Jesse Garcia now the leading role in From Dusk Til Dawn told me about it. Then I saw the casting director at FedEx. I was printing out my head shots and I went up to her like:
“Hi, my name is Vannessa Vasquez. I heard about your show. Here’s my head shot. If you have any roles, call me. (laughs)”
It’s weird cause you hear about actors doing that but who really does it? She even remembers this story.
Q: Your character “Camila” deals with a lot of issues that young girls go through today, has that opened up your eyes to anything?
A: My most favorite thing about the show itself is that we’re telling our Latin American stories and the culture. I love that they’ve given me the freedom to bring some of my own personal experiences and the way I grew up talking.
The first season was a lot about sexual violence in the home and that’s not something that’s talked about. It’s a sensitive subject and East Los High really pushed for it.
Doing my research, I realized how much these things happen and no one talks about it because our community is very family-oriented.
Q: Having been the first college graduate in your family and living out your dreams, do you consider yourself a role model?
A: I never really thought about it like that. I always felt like if I could do it with all these obstacles, then anyone can. I never had someone to look up to. I followed that feeling in my heart that there’s something bigger out there, a dream. Everyone has that dream no matter what circumstances, what social class, nationality or race. Follow your heart!
Q: Did you have a Quinceanera?
A: Yes! I was just talking to my cousins about this. My parents specifically put on my invitations “Formal attire” because they didn’t want anyone coming with baggy pants you know, cholos but they still came through and that’s when the party started (laughs). I had mariachi!
Q: What advice do you have for our stressed out Quinceaneras?
A: Try to remember the Quinceanera is for everyone. It’s a family thing that’s why we have padrinos, embrace that. I know sometimes everyone wants to pull and wants it their way but be happy and be in the moment. Don’t let the stress get to you, because more than anything you want to remember it being happy.
Q: Our Quinceaneras are going from girls to young ladies, any advice for that scary transition?
A: As young ladies, we have to take care of ourselves and set boundaries. You’re a teenager but you’re also becoming an adult. There’s young girls around you getting pregnant. Things are happening but your family is counting on you. It’s not just a party.
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