There are few Hollywood stars that are as grounded and real as Aimee Garcia.
Garcia, who has starred in numerous TV shows including the “George Lopez” show and “Trauma,” is now working with the award-winning cast of Showtime’s Dexter.
Garcia plays Jamie, the younger sister of Dexter’s coworker Angel Batista, in season sixth of the show. The show was recently nominated for a SAG award.
VOXXI interviewed Garcia on her new role and asked her about Latinos in Hollywood. The star says that her family heritage, Puerto Rican and Mexican, helps keep her grounded and focused on the positive side of life, despite the obstacles that may come her way.
Through her work on and off camera, this stunning Latina has stayed true to her values by mentoring kids and participating in educational events for the Latino community.
Garcia grew up in Chicago and before heading to Hollywood she studied journalism, French and economics at Northwestern University.
Q: Since you were a journalism major in college, what are your thoughts on Latinos in the media?
As much as I would love to see the news cover a spelling bee or tutoring programs, that’s not going to get newscast ratings. So I feel like whether you’re black, white, Latino – if it’s a crime and it’s grisly, and the grislier the better, for ratings, they’re going to run it first. It’s really unfortunate, but I don’t like watching the news because it’s depressing and it paints the world as a very dangerous and dire and uneducated place.
I think that journalists have a responsibility to balance out the negative with the positive. I would love to see a scholarship story for every gang banger story out there.
I hope that the content shifts to a more balanced perspective of the real world. Because it’s a great world out there! There is a lot of evil as well, but if you just watch the news it’s really hard to keep trekking in a positive direction.
Q: Is it challenging to be a Latina in Hollywood?
I always felt that being Latino in Hollywood has been an asset. For instance, I just got offered a role where I have to speak fluent Spanish. And if I wasn’t Latina and didn’t grow up speaking Spanish with my mother, I wouldn’t have qualified for that job.
I’ve also been fortunate to play roles that aren’t Latino. I think it’s more that I can bring to the table. I honestly feel that the networks, producers and studios are starting to realize that Latinos are the fastest growing minority and their incredible purchasing power. We really are crucial to the backbone of this economy. And I think that everybody wants a Latino or Latina in their project.
On “Dexter” I wouldn’t have been able to play a Cuban American who’s a graduate student – if I wasn’t Puerto Rican. And I wouldn’t have been able to work with amazing actors in “Friday Night Lights” if I wasn’t fluent in Spanish. I really think that it’s been an asset, not a hindrance, and I think it’s only going to get better and better.
Q: How has your Latino heritage influenced you in film?
I think your background makes you who you are. I think the Puerto Rican people are passionate people. Someone who doesn’t speak Spanish may think they are fighting when they are discussing. So, they are very vibrant. I think I carry with me that fire and passion.
On the Mexican side, the incredible work ethic and loyalty has really served me as a human being and as an actor in Hollywood. You don’t get anywhere without working hard and working smart.
I feel very lucky to be a part of three cultures instead of just one. I think that all of those cultures melted together make me who I am. I’m very happy with who I am and it’s all participated in my success. My passion, my zest for life and my work ethic have really come into play as an actor in Hollywood and it all stems from my Mexican-Puerto Rican heritage.
Q: Who has been your greatest influence in your life?
My parents. My parents had nothing and came to the United States with the dream of having a better life. I have to thank them. They always showed me how to work hard instead of telling me to work hard. They always taught me to treat everyone with respect and there are no shortcuts. And most importantly they showed me and taught me that education is crucial to success.
I could‘ve just gone to Hollywood after high school. I was getting a lot of traction from high profile films. I could’ve gone as a teenager and have been lucky and successful and rolled the dice, but it didn’t even cross my mind. I knew since I was 4 years old that I was going to this thing called college.
I didn’t know if college was a country, or if it was a restaurant, I didn’t know if it was my cousin. All I knew was that I was going to this place called college.
When your parents instill in you from an early age that college is not an option, but a requirement, you don’t even think about dropping out of high school, or not doing well in junior high, because you know you’re going to college. They are really my inspiration and I feel lucky to have them as parents.
I know that a lot of Latinos don’t have that role model in their homes, so I try to the best of my abilities to be a role model. I try to represent Latinos as educated and hard working.
Q: Do you consider yourself a role model?
(Garcia’s parents went to college. Her mother is an orthodontists who works in the Mexican community in Chicago. Her father works with underprivileged Latinos.)
I feel like other people work just as hard. They are role models – like teachers, doctors, nurses, parents. The real heroes, to be totally honest, are the soldiers that are allowing us to have this interview right now, or the parents that sacrifice and work three jobs to put their kids through school because they have no other choice.
Q: You’re a part of “Dexter,” a hugely successful show. Was there ever a moment where you felt you achieved the American Dream? How do your parents feel about your success?
I still feel like I’m working on my dream. I have a long way to go. I felt so lucky to be nominated by my colleagues. [My parents] are really proud of me and they are happy. I am glad I have them, but I think they would be happy if I was getting more minors here and there. They are really supportive parents. They just want me to be happy. It’s not about the awards.
Q: What do you like most about working on Dexter and your character Jamie?
Working with Michael (Michael Hall plays Dexter on the show). He is raw talent. He comes from broadway and he’s really left his mark. Acting is like tennis, you can’t act alone; it takes two. And you’re only as good as the person you’re working with. He really ups the game. He is a true professional. When the cameras are rolling, he is 100 percent present. I feel so lucky to go to work every day with someone who is that talented.
As far as Jamie, I love that she is a college graduate, and she is in grad school studying child psychology. I love that she’s not the stereotypical one thing. She’s not tough girl Latina, sexy girl Latina, smart nerdy girl Latina, or the ghetto Latina. She is a little bit of everything. Sometimes she’s smart, sometimes she’s sassy, sometimes she can go toe to toe with Jennifer Carpenter’s character if she feels like Harrison is being threatened. She’s sexy and smart. I love that she is multidimensional. And hopefully a Latina that people can relate to.
As Latinas we are not only one thing. I hope to represent that in Jamie’s character and future roles that I play.
Garcia leaves fans with this message:
“It’s never easy and life is too short. What are you waiting for?”