Just who is this güerita beauty? A rising star.
Recently seen on Netflix’s horror/thriller series, Hemlock Grove
By Elia Esparza
In April, Netflix premiered their 13-episode horror series Hemlock Grove where CEO Reed Hastings boasted to analysts that the show was “getting viewed by even more subscribers in its first couple of days” than House of Cards last February. This peeked my curiosity and as I dug into the series, I discovered a young and talented actress, blond and blue-eyed, Emilia McCarthy who appears in eight of the 13 shows as the sheriff’s teenage daughter, Alyssa Sworn.
As I dug into Emilia’s background, I discovered she is Latina of Mexican background who also speaks fluent Spanish.
In Hemlock Grove, is a series that revolves around the mysterious murder of a young girl named Brooke Bluebell. Emilia’s role appears to be just another teenager but this girl has a big secret that affects the inhabitants of the fictional Pennsylvania town of Hemlock Grove.
As I got to know Emilia better, I found out that she began her acting career playing Laura in several TV movies: Booky, Secret Santa and Booky’s Crush. She also shared a role with Elle Fanning in the 2006 Oscar nominated film Babel. A young lady with international appeal – she is fluent in English, French, and Spanish. Has traveled the world and lived in Europe. And while she was still a child, she authored a book… Baby’s Wish! I mean, who is this girl? I just had to track her down!
I caught up with the young starlet and was delighted to find her well-grounded and older than her young 15- years. Before I spoke with Emilia, I thought she would be like a younger version of Cameron Diaz. But the only thing these two have in common is the blond hair. No offense, Cameron but Emilia has one extra endearing quality and that is how proud she is of her Latina roots. Her mother is from Mexico City (D.F.) and frequent visits to the grandparents have given her a foundation that keeps her Spanish fluent and heritage fresh in her mind and heart.
Latin Heat: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. I find your background interesting… a little Canadian, part Mexican, part Irish güerita actress. How old were you when you started acting?
Emilia McCarthy: I was around 7, I literally just woke up and said, ‘mom and dad, I want to be an actress.’ First job was the film Babel, with super huge movie stars! It was an incredible experience. I turned 8 on set – this role jump started started my career. I didn’t really know what was going on but I got to work with Gael Garcia Bernal and shared a role with Elle Fanning – we split the role in accordance to number of hours a minor can work… we were the same height and our roles mushed well together.
LH: You are multicultural: Irish, Canadian, German, Spanish, Mexican, Mayan… tell us about your Latino side.
EM: My mom is Mexican originally from Mexico City… so that makes me half Latina. It’s weird because I have blond hair, blue eyes—typical white girl is what everyone thinks. But, I have my Latina side… I speak the language and am close to our culture because my mom speaks to me in Spanish all the time. I attend French emergence school, go to Mexico twice a year because grandparents live in Cancun… refreshing… it’s my second home. My Irish side comes from my dad.
LH: Where did you grow up and/or live and when you’re working, do you spend lots of time in L.A. or NY?
EM: I grew up in London, Ontario two hours from Toronto, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams town. Eventually my parents and I will road trip to NY and LA, go where the work is because that’s a crucial and necessary part of being an actor. For pilot season we didn’t come to L.A. but we did send in a lot of tapes.
LH: What’s next after Hemlock Grove?
EM: Unlikely Heroes, Kids Town – which I recently started filming. Storyline is lighter and more fun and family friendly than Hemlock Grove.
LH: You’re in the 10th grade, has it been hard for you as you start to gain popularity? I mean Christina Aguilera has said that when she started to gain fame, high school was painful with so much mean-spirited acts and remarks against her and was home schooled as a result.
EM: No, all my friends are supportive… really nice kind of cool. No jealousy. I’m so lucky.
EM: No comment [chuckles].
LH: How did you getting cast in Hemlock Grove come about?
EM: I got called to audition for Eli Roth and pretty much got the role immediately, but I did have to have a chemistry test for fraternal twin on show [played by Eliana Jones]… Sometimes it’s like a six-month process to get cast, but this one was real simple, only took two weeks.
LH: As a young teen working in her first horror series… was it scary for you?
EM: Experience has been amazing being that it is my first time working in this horror genre. I love it! Really enjoyed getting down and bloody. Acting in it is like working in a horror movie… it definitely puts things perspective as an actor. For my last scene, my death scene, it got pretty intense and get into that emotional state. And, by now everyone knows that I die. The twins die.
LH: I read that you wrote your first book (inspired by a dream)… as a child. How old were you and what is the book about?
EM: I was 8. My dad is a writer and he helped but it was my idea… kind of like spur of the moment kind of thing. My ‘Baby’s Wish’ was published and it felt kind of like an out of body experience. Story is based on a dream I had… it’s about a baby in the womb wondering about what his/her parents will be like. In my dream I see a baby sitting in front of a laptop and is typing a description of what parents it wants: ‘I want my dad to have a lot of hair,’ etc. It’s the baby in the womb point of view… baby drives the story… and moral of the story is that no matter what their parents end up looking like, baby is born and it’s a happily ever after.
LH: That is sweet! It’s not just the parents wondering what their child will look like… the unborn baby too has a point of view. There are many kids who want to act. What advise do you give about forging a career at such a young age?
EM: Lots of people say acting is glamorous but it isn’t. It’s hard work! You have to really love it in order to endure the hard work that comes with it: filming all night, not sleeping, up early the next morning for more of the same hard work… while getting in your schoolwork, is not easy! But if you still love it after all this, then it’s your passion and you were made for it. It has to be a passion. It has to to be your calling… because it is hard work!
There are good parts to being an actor and then there is the rejection, which is not good. Definitely if you’re going to dozens of auditions and not getting called, you just have to accept it and keep going forward. If it really is what you want to do, then you just have to press on. A lot in getting cast is timing and luck. It could simply be the way you look, color of eyes, height, a bunch of little things combined that make you stand out [in front of that particular casting people for that particular audition]. Again, timing and luck.
Thank you, Emilia! Welcome to Hollywood aka Latinowood!
We won’t know if Hemlock Grove will continue since Netflix won’t be reviewing the impact their six or seven original shows will have on subscriptions until 2014… but meanwhile, they gave a young rising star named Emilia McCarthy another opportunity to display her amazing talent, and for that, thank you Netflix!
Follow Emilia on Twitter: @EmiliaaMcCarthy
The series revolves around the mysterious murder of a young girl named Brooke Bluebell. The town’s scarier side emerges as the investigation into her case gets deeper and deeper. Among the more normal inhabitants of Netflick’s Hemlock Grove is Alyssa Sworn (Emilia McCarthy), the daughter of the town sheriff, Tom (Aaron Douglas). While she appears to be just another teenager, Alyssa had a big secret that dramatically altered the dynamic of many inhabitants of the fictional Pennsylvania town.