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Stephanie Beatriz on That Time She Unleashed Her Inner Rosa on Some On-Set Sexism

Rosa Stephanie Beatriz

We know that Stephanie Beatriz and Rosa Diaz are two different people. We know that one is real, and the other is a fictional character. We know this, factually, to be true. But sometimes Stephanie Beatriz reveals her inner Rosa, and it is such a joy to see. A kick-ass, no-f*cks-given, putting-jerks-in-their-place joy.

In a recent interview with Vulture, Beatriz was talking about working to be an advocate, both for others as well as herself. She says that on set, she’s “very direct.” She shared a story of a guest star (whom she wouldn’t name), who came onto the show and was calling all the women diminishing terms like “baby,” “honey,” or “babe.” Beatriz says that she “jokingly” told someone “‘Oh, I wish he would call me babe.’ Let’s see what happens.”

“And then sure enough,” she says, “once we hit set, he did speak to me that way, and I said, I’d really prefer it if you called me by my name. And he was like, ‘All right, sweetie.’ And then I stopped and said, ‘No. I am actually serious. I am not sweetie. My name is Stephanie, and I’d like you to call me by my actual name.’ And he was a little bit of an older guy, and I don’t think he was used to anybody talking to him that way, especially not a young woman.”

That “sweetheart” stuff is the kind of casually denigrating language that is entirely normalized within certain cultures and communities. I’ve worked with and otherwise known plenty of say that stuff, and write it off as a product of being older/Southern/what have you. A lot of those men genuinely don’t know why a woman would be offended by it. But to many women, it is offensive. It can feel belittling or just plain creepy. And if a woman says as much, and the man continues to use those terms, there’s no excusing that level of disrespect. “It’s just how I talk” or “I didn’t mean anything by it” are no longer valid excuses (if they ever were).

Beatriz says of the incident, “But that was our show. It’s our house, and I wasn’t going to let him come into our house and disrespect the crew, the other actors, myself. It was really great that I felt really supported in that. Everyone around me, the director that day, the crew, our creators, rallied around me and said, ‘Yeah. You did the right thing. Thank you for speaking up and making sure that you felt comfortable in your work environment.’ In that way, I’m a really good advocate for myself. At this point in my life, I’m not afraid to lose a job because I feel like I’m not being treated equally or fairly on a set.”

There’s a lot of other really great stuff in that Vulture interview, including Beatriz talking about her own sexuality, as well as Rosa’s. She talks about how seriously everyone took Rosa’s coming out story, and how involved she was in that development. Here’s a great excerpt:

Last year, before we started season five, [co-creator] Dan Goor had some separate meetings with all the actors, asking them, “What do you want to see yourself do this season?” He called me and said, “I just want to be very sensitive about this, and I really want to hear your honest answer. Would you be open to us exploring a story where Rosa comes out as bisexual?” and I was like, “Absolutely. Yes. I’m so excited! Yes! Yes! Yes!” So it was like, “Tens, tens, tens across the board.” As we got closer, he decided that it was not only going to be one episode, but two, and it was going to be the 99th and 100th episodes, which is like, “You sneaky, brilliant bastard.” Because Fox was going to publicize those episodes anyway. So here was this Very Special Episode that was going to get all this attention, and guess what, one of the characters is going to come out to one of her co-workers as bi.

“There were multiple rewrites,” she says, “but the main thing for me was that the character said ‘bisexual’ and that she said it so many times. She names her sexuality, versus many bisexual characters that you see in television in the past that have just happened to date men and women, and they’re just fluid and sexy, and sometimes they’re a fucking villain.”

In the season finale, Rosa meets Gina Rodriguez’ character, and the two clearly have sparks, but it doesn’t go further than that. We can be extra glad the show was picked up by NBC after being cancelled by Fox because Beatriz has a specific goal for Rosa’s development as a character: “I would like to see her kiss a girl on that screen.”

(via Vulture, image: Robert Trachtenberg/FOX)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.