Images and Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
Video interview adapted from Jean-Luc Godard’s
“Dialogue avec un produit de consommation”
Masculin - Féminin (1966)
Actor Stephanie Beatriz is best known of her role as Rosa Diaz on the Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-2017). Beatriz also plays recurring character Sonia on Modern Family (2009-2017) and starred in the critically acclaimed indie film Short Term 12 (2013). Her newest endeavor is her podcast, Reality Bytes.
Born in Argentina and raised in Webster, Texas, actor Stephanie Beatriz is best known for playing Rosa Diaz on the Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Her most recent indie film In The Light of the Moon sees Beatriz in the lead as Bonnie, a woman coming to terms with life after suffering sexual assault. Fans also recognize her from the indie film Short Term 12 as well as her role as Sofia Vergara’s sister on Modern Family. A jack of all trades, she recently launched her own podcast entitled Reality Bites.
I was born in Neuquén, Argentina. I grew up in Webster, Texas.
To buy my parents a home, to reach as many people as I can with the stories I choose to tell.
How did you get involved in this line of work?
I took a drama class in 8th grade and was cast as a male villain. I had the time of my life.
Your idea of heaven:
I’m suddenly not gluten intolerant and can endlessly eat deep dish pizza
What was your first break?
Well I moved to New York to do theater and booked a children’s theater tour which was how I got my actor’s equity card, which is the beginning of making money as an actor. That was hellish. It was like 9 of us driving around in a van performing children’s theater at like 9 a.m. every morning. And children are the worst critics. They’ll tell you right away if they hate something.
What have you been in?
Right now I play Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Fox. I also have a recurring role on Modern Family, as Sofia Vergara’s little sister. You can see me in the latest Pee-wee movie, Pee-wee’s Big holiday on Netflix. And I’m going to be in this beautiful independent film coming out soon called In The Light of the Moon.
How do you feel about this career?
I love it. I get to play pretend for a living and at the same time help other people express feelings they might not be able to express in their regular, everyday life.
How did you decide to become an actor?
It seemed to be the only thing that I was really kind of good at. Other skills were like maybe not my forte. I just wasn’t able to do anything as well as I could slip into somebody else’s life.
“Fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine often get kind of confused and sometimes angry that I’m not exactly like I am on TV. In real life I’m what the kids call ‘cinnamon roll,’ and on TV I’m kind of a bad bitch.”
— Stephanie Beatriz
How would you describe your specialty or type?
I’m not sure that I have a type right now, which is kind of cool. In real life, I’m very different than the main character that I play. Fans of Brooklyn Nine-Nine often get kind of confused and sometimes angry that I’m not exactly like I am on TV. In real life I’m what the kids call “cinnamon roll,” and on TV I’m kind of a bad bitch.
Who is your favorite actor who you look up to?
There’s quite a few that I really, really love, but I would love to emulate Bryan Cranston’s career. He did so many ridiculous sitcom-y comedies for a long time and then turned right around and did this incredible performance in Breaking Bad. He sort of spans both ends of what I would like to be able to do someday.
What would your ideal job be?
I have it! So something like Brooklyn-Nine-Nine. Thanks, Universe.
“[My parents] are immigrants and they came to the United States with an idea of what they wanted their kids to do, which was succeed. When I told them I wanted to be an artist, I think they were afraid because they weren’t sure how that was going to pan out financially….But they sort of said ‘fuck it’ and believed in me, and I’m very, very lucky that I had that.”
— Stephanie Beatriz
What advantages do you have?
I have the advantage of parents who really believed that I knew what was best for me and believed me when I told them I wanted to pursue a career in the arts. They’re immigrants and they came to the United States with an idea of what they wanted their kids to do, which was succeed. When I told them I wanted to be an artist, I think they were afraid because they weren’t sure how that was going to pan out financially. Was I going to be okay? Was I going to be safe? But they sort of said “fuck it” and believed in me, and I’m very, very lucky that I had that.
What would you rather have; a car or a diploma?
A diploma. I’ve got along without a car for a really long time. I was 30 when I learned to drive.
What do you think about the need for instinct gratification?
Sometimes it’s great. When that ping goes off when you get a text message it sets off a dopamine receptor in your brain. But like anything good, it can go too far. You can have too much of a good thing.
“When I came out as bi on social media there was a large response from young women, many of them Latina and women of color who never had representation before that they recognized. I felt so alone when I was going through that in high school. Now someone can just get on Twitter and feel like, ‘Oh, I’m not alone.’”
— Stephanie Beatriz
How do you feel about how interconnected the world is becoming?
It’s kind of wonderful. I know a lot of people say that there are lots of downfalls to it. But for example, when I came out as bi on social media there was a large response from young women, many of them Latina and women of color who never had representation before that they recognized. I felt so alone when I was going through that in high school. Now someone can just get on Twitter and feel like, “Oh, I’m not alone. It’s wonderful.”
What does the future look like to you?
Pretty bright. When I imagine all the things that are possible and that human beings have already done for each other, it looks good.
What challenges do you feel the world is facing today?
Racism, homophobia, misogyny. Those are some of the biggies that I try to sort of battle in my everyday life.
What are you most grateful for?
A very strong support group of friends who care about me. Parents who love me very much. A sister who loves me very much. The ability to pursue an art form and feel like I can.
What is your favorite way to communicate?
Talking in person is my favorite, but also on the phone.
What is your favorite book, film, and music right now?
Well, I’m listening to a lot of vintage Dolly Parton. I’m sure if you said that to her face she would be like, “Ooh!” I can think of my favorite play, which is Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. And my favorite movie is going to be a really hard three-way tie between Amelie, Spirited Away and Bullets Over Broadway.
In the Light of the Moon, a film I shot in Brooklyn this summer. It tells the story of a sexual assault from the victim’s point of view. Not a revenge fantasy, not a film about the court system. Just about her and the real story: who do you get to be when something devastating happens to you?