Fall Season Latinas on ABC: Two Law Students and a Detective


Latina Trend at ABC This Fall

At-the-TCAIt seems ABC Television has not forgotten the four-season success of its Latina-driven series Ugly Betty (2006-2010), even though the ratings dropped by season four. This fall ABC has three shows they hope they will be as successful or more.

ABC is introducing Cristela, a half-hour sitcom created by and starring standup comedienne Cristela Alonzo, premiering Friday, Oct 10 (8:30 EP/PT).  Adding further strength to its Latino-friendly airwaves, ABC is introducing two drama series that are imbued with Latin flavor—Forever, featuring Alana De La Garza, premiering Tuesday, Sep 23 at 10p (ET/PT) and How To Get Away With Murder, with Karla Souza, beginning Thursday, Sep 25 at 10p (ET/PT).   All this emerging talent, gathered at the recent summer gathering of the Television Critics Association (TCA), were only too happy to discuss what they hope to be spectacular debuts.

Cristela Cast
(L-R) Gabriel Iglesias, Terri Hoyos, Cristela Alonzo, Carlos Ponce & Maria Canals-Barrera

The Comedic Law Student

“It’s really weird,” Cristela Alonzo admitted. “Every step as we move towards it, I keep thinking I can’t believe I’m here, I can’t believe I’m here.” Cristela, which Alonzo is also exec producing along with co-creator Kevin Hench, Marty Adelstein, Shawn Levy and Becky Clements, chronicles the familial, social and professional misadventures of a Mexican-American law school graduatewho has yet to live the American dream.Series regulars include Carlos Ponce, Terri Hoyos, Maria Canals-Barrera, Sam McMurray and Andrew Leeds.

Alonzo added, “When it comes to expectations, I really try to never have any. It’s something that mom always told me. She always said, ‘Don’t expect anything or else you’ll be disappointed.’ So for me, I expected that whatever the outcome was, that was the outcome it was supposed to be. I don’t try to put any expectation on this show except that I want the show to portray me as me. The name of the show is Cristela. The character in the show is very much who I am in person, and I just want to show people the real me because, when you try to pretend that you’re someone else, people can tell.”

HowTo Murder

The Dramatic Law Student

Mexico City-born Karla Souza (Instructions Not Included) is making the small screen jump from Spanish-language telenovelas to the legal drama series, How to Get Away with Murder, the latest ABC effort from executive producer Shonda Rhimes, created by ShondaLand writer Peter Nowalk, starring Viola Davis as a law professor who believes the best way to teach the law is to entwine her most promising students in an actual murder case. Souza revealed, “I play one of the law students and my name is Laura Wilding. So I better be able to speak English very well.”

When asked if she is playing a non Latina, Souza responded, “At this point, I don’t really know. Pete (Nowalk) actually asked me if I wanted to have my character’s last name changed to be Latin. I was so surprised that he would even ask. And I loved it that the producers were so caring. So I remember Pete saying, ‘The fact that you actually speak French and you’re Mexican, but you lived in Colorado, is very useful. We want to bring all these things into the character.’ So I was very honored and very grateful about that. So I don’t know if it’s going to be the Latina you’re used to seeing on TV, because I feel like there’s a very strong stereotype out there, and I’m happy to kind of show a different side to that.”

How To Get Away With Murder has a large ensemble of regulars, including Viola Davis, Karla Souza, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Katie Findlay, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, Karla Souza, Charlie Weber and Liza Weil. Executive producers include Pete Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, and Bill D’Elia.                                   

Alana De La Garza & Judd Hirsch

The Fun Detective

Forever, which is a police procedural with a medical twist, stars Welsh-born Ioan Gruffield as Dr. Henry Morgan, a top flight medical examiner, with a profound secret—he’s immortal. His new partner is Detective Jo Martinez, played by Mexican American Alana De La Garza, who is no stranger to procedural dramas. She played assistant DA Connie Rubirosa in the Law & Order franchise from 2006 to 2011.

“This is a different thing altogether, Garza proclaimed. “I guess my Law & Order experience helps in the fact of the interrogations and dealing with the perps, but the way this show is written is so much fun and such a different experience. Jo is such a full person.  She’s got a history and a backstory and feelings. It’s so wonderfully written on the page. I just have to open my mouth and make it come alive.”

One of the aspects that really has Garza excited is the fantasy aspects of the series. “It’s funny. I always play a very serious strong woman, and I’m a goober. I’m a total dork. So doing something that is more fantastical and adventurous in the way this show develops, it appeals to me, and it’s fun. From day one, I felt like I’d known the people on this show my whole life. And it’s lovely. It’s beautiful when that comes together.

Forever, which also stars Judd Hirsch, is created and produced by Matt Miller

Upcoming are TeleVision spotlights on the fall programming of CBS-CW, NBC, FOX, PBS and Cable.

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