When all the television broadcast networks introduced their new wares for the fall season at this summer’s meeting of the Television Critics Association (TCA), NBC was by far the least Latino-friendly. Out of eight new series announced, only two feature a Latino as a series regular—The Mysteries of Laura (Laz Alonso) and Constantine (Angélica Celaya)—and neither is the central focus of the action.
Laz Alonso Det. Billy Soto Lends Contrast to Messings Character
The Mysteries of Laura, which spotlights Debra Messing as working mom and NYPD homicide detective Laura Diamond, actually has a Latino pedigree. It is adapted from the Spanish television series Los misterios de Laura by Carlos Vila and Javier Holgado. The American version was developed by Jeff Rake with Vila and Holgado. It is scheduled to debut Wednesday, Sep 24 (8pm), but NBC is offering a sneak preview on Sep 17, following the season finale of America’s Got Talent.
“I am definitely Debra’s backup in this series,” stated Laz Alonso, who is of Afro-Cuban heritage. “My character, Detective Billy Soto, is meant to be a sharp contrast to his partner Laura. Billy is totally together and by-the-book in his approach to the job, while Laura is one big mess…but she gets the job done,” Alonso adds. “Audiences will slowly get to know more about Billy as the season moves on; but most of the attention will always be on the many sides of Laura. And that’s the way it should be. Debra is a true star. It is such a pleasure being on this series with her.” Alonso’s Cuban roots do show themselves in the series. He actually speaks Spanish in the pilot episode.
Alonso, who was born in Washinton, DC and is a graduate of Howard University, actually began his career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in Manhattan before finding his way into acting. Breakout roles included Felix Calderon in the film, Fast & Furious, and as the Na’vi warrior, Tsu’tey, in James Cameron‘s science fiction adventure film, Avatar.
The Many Sides of Laura also stars Josh Lucas, Janina Gavankar and Max Jenkins. Executive producers are Jeff Rake, McG, Jeff Berlanti and Aaron Kaplan.
Angelica Celaya Plays DC Comic Character in Constantine
Constantine, developed by Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, is based on the DC Comics series Hellblazer, offering a star turn for British actor Matt Ryan as supernatural detective John Constantine. Series regular Angélica Celaya is not in the original pilot for the show and did not appear at the TCA conference. Her role of Zed— based on an actual DC Comics character — has been written in and will be introduced when the series debuts on Friday, October 24 (10p). One thing for sure, Celaya’s Zed will have super powers. Goyer explains, “She’s someone who can go toe-to-toe with John (Constantine), and that’s something, ultimately, we felt we needed.”
Born in Tucson, Celaya most recently recurred as Lucia Treviño on TNT’s Dallas. Constantine also stars Charles Halford and Harold Perrineau.