EXCLUSIVE: Stephanie Beatriz Dishes on Her Hit Show Brooklyn Nine-Nine!

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She plays a major badass (Detective Rosa Diaz) on FOXs hit comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Stephanie Beatriz is just as cool and laid-back in real life! We caught up with the talented and proud Latina to talk about her hit show (which airs tonight at 8:30/7:30c); what its like working with Golden-Globe winner Andy Samberg and the #1 thing she wants for Christmas this year!

First of all, congratulations on the success of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Its such a great show!

Thank you very much!

Tell us about your character, Rosa Diaz!    

Rosa can be described using one word: Badass! Shes very strong and she believes in justice whether or not {she} follows the prescribed rules {Laughs}. But shes really dedicated to her work its probably the main focus of her life and her personal life is sort of {put} off to the side. And even though shes tough, if you look at the story lines the writers have given her, shes {also} a really supportive person she supports her friends 100 percent and goes out of her way to make people understand that shes got their back.

Can you relate to Rosas obsession with work and career? Are you obsessive about acting and the arts?

The other day I was talking about religion with a friend and I was like, I guess art is my religion. I feel very dedicated to theater first, because in the timeline of my life, theater is where I started out. But yeah, I guess I can get a little obsessive about work—I always want to make sure that Im doing my best and make what Im doing the best it can be. And Im always trying to learn more about what Im doing Im either reading something or watching something or I’m constantly trying to fill my brain with stuff that will make me better at what I want to do.

Stephanie BeatrizOne of the really cool things about Brooklyn Nine-Nine is that it features TWO Latinas you and {Cuban-American actress} Melissa Fumero in lead roles, as well as Eva Longoria as a guest star. Is there a sense of Latina empowerment and girl power on the set? 

I definitely think it’s a feminist show! I think a lot of the writing and characters are definitely feminists. I mean, Andy Samberg himself is a definite feminist. So, it’s such a pleasure and honor working with somebody when you just know that that’s a core part of their beliefs. And I feel really proud to be a part of the show because there are two Latinas that are part of the ensemble — I personally cant remember ever watching a show where that was the case. Its a huge move forward in television and I am so lucky and thankful to NBC Universal and FOX and Dan Goor and Michael Schur for creating that.

Eva Longoria and Andy Samberg

I think its incredible and not just for myself its super awesome for people watching it. I remember being 12 or 13 and watching television and wondering where I was where do I belong? And you take so much information from television, even if you dont realize it. So to know that there are young women watching the show, looking at it and going, oh ok, I can be those things, too Im not just {limited} to these roles that Ive seen before and the possibilities are expanding for all ethnicities its an exciting time in television.

You called Andy a feminist (and thats awesome!). Why do you say that?

Well, essentially a feminist is someone who believes that both men and women should have equal rights and Andy is that. You know, he just is that way in his day to day life and also in the way he sculpts and shapes story lines. I remember doing a scene with him and I said something off the cuff like, what if we tried blah blah blah, this chick, and immediately he sort of responded to me calling someone a chick and said you know, I wonder if we shouldnt try saying this girl or this woman because it seems like youre throwing away the relationship that you have with that woman. And I thought, oh, thats so smart! Its so simple, but it does send a message to the audience. Every word that you choose sends a little message

A lot of fans love the friendship between Detective Jake Peralta (Samberg) and your character, Rosa. Do you love that friendship as well?

I absolutely love that! I love seeing platonic relationships between men and women on television, because it is such a huge part of our lives. I have so many male friends that I would never…that our friendship is the most important thing. There’s nothing else there, because thats what they are in my life. And I love those relationships on television — like the Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope friendship on Parks and Recreation they have such an amazing friendship. I love that exploration.

Stephanie Beatriz

Prior to joining Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you starred in the critically acclaimed film, Short Term 12. Now that youre on a hit TV show, is there any chance youll head back to the big screen? 

I love the opportunity to tell stories as long as I live. I would be so, so happy to do films. Ive always dreamt of having a very diverse career. I was lucky enough to do a film called Youre Not You with Emmy Rossum and Hilary Swank last year and that was a really great experience for me, because it was the second thing Id ever done Short Term 12 was the first. So I would love to do more film and I think the kinds of stories I want to tell, some of them can probably only be told through film because theres that intimacy that you get in film that you dont get in the theater. At the same time, there’s an electricity that you only feel in the moment when youre on stage with an audience. It doesnt happen very often during a performance if youre lucky it happens once a performance but its that moment when you know the whole audience is with you. Everybody is with you all at once and its like oh sh**, its happening! {Laughs}.

Do you see yourself producing your own projects like Swank and fellow Latina Eva Longoria? 

Im not sure because I dont know what the future holds. I do think that one of the most exciting things to do as an artist is to choose your projects and get done stories you believe in and stories you want to tell like, Evas produced some amazing documentaries. Those are the stories that she knows she wants to tell she sees them and goes, I want to share that with people. So that part of being a producer is incredible!

Youre back home in Texas for the holidays this week. Do you get to visit your parents often with your super busy schedule or is this a treat for you?
It’s a treat. I don’t see my parents nearly as often as Id like to — so it’s definitely fun to spend time with them and just be around them. Today our big outing was going to the grocery store! And, you know, the best part is just being with them. Last night the four of us watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine together and that was really nice because we never have. It was really special to just sit on the couch and have my mom behind me and my dad and sister next to me on the couch and all of us just chilling and watching the show.

Youve had a great year professionally! What is the #1 thing you want for Christmas this year? 
I think the #1 thing is I want to wake up Christmas morning at my family’s house with my family. I definitely want that. And #2 would be some kind of miracle, delicious, gluten-free panettone — it’s this traditional Italian bread thats so yeasty and eggy and its got little bits of raisin and lemon-peel in it. It’s so good and my mom gets it every christmas. I found out a few years ago that I cant have flower and that Im really allergic to it, so I wish Santa would bring me a gluten-free panettone. That would be a Christmas miracle!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs tonight at 8:30/7:30c on FOX. 

Images courtesy of FOX 

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site PEOPLE.com; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine, AOL.com, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.