LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 27: Roberta Colindrez at 2019 Outfest Legacy Awards Gala: Unveiling of a New Era at Vibiana on October 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Outfest)
  • Interviews

Roberta Colindrez, from “Vida” and ‘The Deuce’ to “Mrs. America”

Roberta Colindrez is the charismatic actress who was introduced in season two of Vida, the Latinx series set in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. She plays Nico, the mixologist hired to create the drinks at Vida, the bar named in honor of Vidalia, mother of two sisters, Lyn (Melissa Barrera) and Emma (Mishel Prada), who have come home after her death. Nico returns in season three, as the love interest of Emma, a helpful and positive presence in a complex situation. Colindrez had her breakout role as Devon in I Love Dick (2017) starring Kathryn Hahn, the Amazon series created by Jill Soloway from the novel by Chris Kraus.  She plays Jules in Mrs. America (2020) starring Cate Blanchett, the FX series about the fight against the ratification of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment).  She also played Irene in The Deuce (2018-2019) starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, the HBO series about the life of sex workers in New York City during the 1970s and 80s.  We spoke to her about her work from her New York apartment.

How would you describe the character of Nico, the bartender you play in Vida, her issues and her relationship with Emma?

Nico came into the world of Vida and into Emma’s life at a really specific moment and what she brings is an idea of optimism and potential, not only for the bar, but for the way that Emma can improve the relationships that she has with her family and with her neighborhood.  Nico is there to take care of things, not only to manage the bar, but to make sure that everybody is working in the best kind of way. And it wouldn’t be a character in a Tanya Saracho’s world if this person was perfect, so Nico has a lot of secrets in her past that she needs to work through, and maybe she has been suppressing. When we meet Nico, she’s such an easy-going person, but, as we get to know her better, we see that it’s not all flowers with her.

How does meeting Jules, the photographer that you play in Mrs. America, change the mindset of Brenda Feigen (Ari Gaynior), Vice President of NOW (National Organization of Women) in 1970?

Knowing that this was a true story, that Brenda Feigen did have this experience and wrote about it actually in her 2000 memoir Not One of the Boys: Living Life as a Feminist, was really powerful for me.  In Brenda’s life Jules was a person who was proud of who they were and really comfortable with who they were, while Brenda hadn’t fully experienced all of herself yet.  Her case is special because she was married to a feminist man, Marc Fasteau, who was really open to the idea of her having a lover and experimenting, doing the things that she thought were true for herself. 

What role did you play as Irene in the world of pornography and prostitution depicted in the series The Deuce?

Irene is a woman that manages our fictionalized version of Playland,  the peep show that used to be by the Port Authority bus terminal, which is a real place. The Deuce is about what was going on around 42nd Street in the 70s and 80s, when sex work was rampant, especially in that area of town.  This was an age when the pimps were really treating their girls quite brutally, police were constantly cracking down on people, and it was a really rough time to be a woman, especially a sex worker.  Irene has a lot of empathy and love for these girls, she takes care of them, she makes sure that they’re healthy, that they are paid, that they are safe at work.

How have you been handling the lockdown life that we have been forced into, trying to avoid the spread of coronavirus?

My sister lives in Milan, Italy, so I was aware of what was going on, and she was very much on top of me, warning me that New York was next, that I had to be careful, she was really insistent about me being prepared for this.  That’s why I moved into the stage of lockdown much earlier than a lot of my friends and peers.  And I live alone, but fortunately my best friend is the most loving person on Earth, and early on she told me, “You can’t quarantine alone, we don’t know how long this is going to be, why don’t you come over?”  I thought it was only going to be for three weeks or so, but I have been able to go between my apartment and her apartment quite freely, and we have a car, so I am super fortunate that I have the possibility of transportation, a best friend to be around when I want to and my own place when I need to be by myself. I’ve been reading a lot of books, I started watching The Sopranos, and I spend a lot of time talking to people on my phone.

What books have you been reading?

I read the book by Sally Rooney Normal People and the book she wrote before that, Conversations with Friends.  I’ve just finished reading an incredible book by Rachel Cusk, Coventry, that I really loved. It’s very insightful about being a woman and being a writer and being a mother.