Mishel Prada admits that she had a certain amount of fear about returning to the role of Emma in the second season of the Starz series “Vida.” After a six-episode first season, which was expanded to 10 episodes in Season 2, Prada says, “I was a little scared going into season two that she just wouldn’t be there anymore.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Vida” is set against the backdrop of gentrification in a predominately Latinx neighborhood in Los Angeles. Prada’s Emma reunites with her sister (Melissa Barrera) after the death of their mother. The series is her first regular series role, a fact that provided a unique challenge when returning for a second season. “I’ve never had to go back to a character,” Prada explains. “Going into Season 2, with the extra episodes, it was great to push yourself to those limits. Emma has a hard time in Season 1, but Season 2 takes a stronger toll on her.”
The character of Emma is multifaceted. She is a buttoned up businesswoman who is also struggling with her own sexuality while trying to connect with her estranged sister. But at the heart of the character is her complicated relationship with her late mother. Prada explains how she tapped into Emma’s internal conflict. “We hold our parents accountable for everything; God forbid they ever had a bad day,” Prada says. She latched onto Emma’s feelings of abandonment, shame and “believing that love isn’t a safe place.”
While the show makes a number of dramatic demands on its actors, particularly in terms of the show’s frank depiction of queer sexuality, Prada was not daunted by such challenges. “I think you really connect with what the characters are revealing in their sexuality, or fighting, or running from” Prada explains. “And then it becomes less about revealing skin and more about revealing intimacy, revealing emotion.” Prada says that those scenes are easier to film thanks to the crew that the show’s creator Tanya Saracho has assembled, which includes a large number of women. “With so many women on set,” Prada says, “the sexual stuff is a lot easier when you feel you are being portrayed from a female gaze.”
Prada admits that there is a certain difficulty to the constant discussion of the issues of representation on television. “‘It’s Latinx people telling their own story…what’s the big deal?’ But it is a big deal right now,” Prada adds. “It’s important for that representation to be at the forefront, and for us to task ourselves in telling these stories and letting ourselves express the way that we see the world.”
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