Teresa Ruiz (‘Mo’): ‘People who watch it one time, they laugh, they watch it a second time, they cry’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“It was just him and me riffing, kind of like music,” reveals Teresa Ruiz about how improvising on set forced her out of her comfort zone on the Netflix comedy “Mo.” For our recent webchat she adds, “I gained weight, even though nobody asked me. I cut my hair really short. I dyed it. It was all this stuff that nobody asked me to do, and I just felt it would be something, or it would add something. So, it was a big leap of faith. That whole character is a leap of faith and it was uncomfortable,” she says. “I just let it go and I didn’t care where the camera was and I didn’t care to be beautiful.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

SEE Exclusive Video Interview: Mo Amer (‘Mo’)

“Mo” was created by comedian and actor Mo Amer and Emmy nominee Ramy Youssef, loosely based on Amer’s life as a Palestinian immigrant living in Houston, Texas. It follows the Najjar family, undocumented refugees from Palestine who fled the Middle East for a better life in America. Without papers, Mo Najjar (Amer) is always hustling with creative ways to make a dollar, avoiding the specter of deportation, particularly because like many Palestinians, he remains stateless. Ruiz, best known for her role as a cartel power-player on the Netflix drama “Narcos: Mexico,” co-stars as Maria, Mo’s sassy but supportive girlfriend Maria.

Ruiz welcomes comparisons between her character and Mona Lisa Vito from “My Cousin Vinny,” the iconic character that won Marisa Tomei an Oscar in 1992. “She’s one of my greatest idols. I’m very happy that that came through. It’s always beautiful to bring back those little ‘hey, remember this incredible artist?'” she says. “When I was going to acting school, it was Marisa Tomei that I would watch over and over again, so I’m pretty sure that has an impact on you as an artist,” the actress admits.

Looking back on the show’s first season, Ruiz says that she most valued how the show’s funniest moments, many of them improvised, often brought out the best of the show’s cast and crew when telling a meaningful story honestly and sincerely. “This show really helped me understand the power and the importance of comedy,” she explains, adding, “a lot of the comments that I get is from people who watch it one time, they laugh, they watch it a second time, they cry. I think that’s pretty incredible.”

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