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Tracy Perez Is The Great Dame Of The Hit Hulu Television Series "East Los High"

Updated on July 28, 2015
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Meeting With Tracy From Coast To Coast

Talent is a rare and sacred breed that is a diamond waiting to be discovered no matter where one goes. Fame and stardom are also in that category because many are blessed with great talents to do what they do best and well time and time again. To show flare and passion which transcends into something magical. The same can be said about the lovely Tracy Perez.

Starting Off-Broadway like many talented and waiting to be discovered talents, Tracy's passions took her to side of country to the one place that her talents will shine: Hollywood. As part of the great ensemble cast of Hulu's hit original exclusive series, East Los High which has garnered critical acclaim now in its third season and gaining a stronger and stronger fan base with each season. Tracy plays a pivotal role on the show as the feisty and sassy Vanessa De La Cruz, who has a major storyline in this upcoming season on the show which will shock and thrill fans of the series.

Tracy's talents continue to grow and there's no doubt that we will be hearing great things from her in wherever her talents are utilized to the best of her abilities and so far, East Los High has really put her on the way to stardom. For this very special interview with Tracy, we talk about her role on the series and what to expect from her character during this upcoming season on East Los High as well as past working in New York and her thoughts and passions on being an actress. So enjoy our nice little Q & A session. Enjoy!

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Q & A With Tracy

Hi Tracy, It’s truly an honor to meet you both and I admire your work. I hope everything is well you today. I really appreciate it! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.Before we begin talking about your show "EAST LOST HIGH”, can you please tell the readers about what inspired you to become an actress.

TP:I was an asthmatic kid therefore a homebody, with very little experience in sports and the arts, even though I was book smart. I got to a point where I was very depressed about it in high school. I felt like I had a lot brewing inside with no outlet and it was the constant limitations being imposed on me, whether health, socioeconomic or personal fears of failure that propelled me into acting. Cuz you had to be fearless, feel limitless. Use words. And I came across it by mistake, really. I found a flyer in homeroom for the schooI play and since I was a new kid as a transfer, I thought it would be cool to learn how to work the lights. I thought I should learn a skill. But the director wanted me to read a monologue from Antony and Cleopatra and after, thought I should act. I had no idea what she was talking about but I asked her to promise that if I acted in this one, I could learn how to work the lights in the next show. She never kept her end of the deal though! I had to fight to keep acting in my life after school, though. Eventually, I fell in love with telling stories that mattered. I come from the experience of being changed by art. It helped me exist in a type of freedom. I loved hearing about those who overcame obstacles and succeeded. My family’s stories and struggles inspired me to become aware of other people’s stories and become a storyteller.

Let’s talk about your show, "East Los High" that is currently on HULU which has received a lot of critical acclaim and you play a very feisty and sassy character named Vanessa De La Cruz who's a major part of the shows' storyline. How did you get cast in the role?

TP: I was wavering between NYC and LA at that time and I self-submitted many times. They were still searching for Vanessa and I thought that was weird, y’know with all this Latino talent in LA. I was unknown and my reel had all this NY work, but I was really hungry to get into that room and give it a shot. I wanted to know why she was so tough to cast.

When you learned that the role was about a fun, tough girl who contracted the HIV virus, what were the thoughts that were running through your head at that moment?

TP: I didn’t know about the news of being HIV + until I read the script for Season 1. Even while shooting the pilot I didn’t really know. I think I physically bowed my head down and gave a sigh of relief. I was seeking a juicy role like this and I was intrigued that her story hadn’t been told yet.

Did you have any doubts or reservations about doing a tough part such as this?

TP: The doubts came prior to getting the role, the waiting time. I think it was the ballsiest I had been about pursuing a role. Sometimes you have to see yourself through a fight to know what you’re capable of. Once I had it, I knew it was just a matter of working hard and getting into her mind and body.

Did you bring anything personal from your own life to give your character the personality that she has? Did the directors encourage you to do something unique?

TP: Vanessa has had to be stronger than she herself knows to survive and dust herself off from some hard knocks. She’s independent and self-reliant. She’s ambitious. I love to dance but she’s on some other level! That’s probably where the similarities end. I love working with Carlos [director of ELH] because he is so in tune with the musicality of Vanessa. She has this rhythm that he gets so well and he trusted me with her. He encouraged me to trust myself and I think that’s where you saw her strength become my own.

You dance on the show. How difficult is that to do doing take after take?

TP: Similar to acting. When you love something, I’m not sure you’re aware of how exhausting or difficult it could really be. I would’ve probably needed more carbs if we did more takes!

What was your experience like, portraying the top dancer of the school?

TP: I wish I would’ve danced more! That’s just what Season 1 was. I was just so grateful to have been given the chance to live it through Vanessa. And it’s cool cuz that’s where Season 3 is going. That was important to me, that the dance element have its time to shine. I always admired dancers. I just think they are beautiful and have always been the sweetest people to me. But again, because I didn’t grow up with it and was so body conscious, I was always in the position to watch in awe and support. That element of the role was so breakthrough for me because I could say I love to dance and call it day. Get rid of the expectation! And that’s for everything right? Bigger lessons are all over East Los!

I learned to not be so insecure about it. But when you’re playing someone who’s life revolves around it, you better be scared! And now I am getting into others forms of dance and really want to keep doing it.

During those scenes, do you try to do your best and get it right away or do you and the directors on the show, try to do different versions of dances and then go with the best take?

TP: I can only speak for Season 1. I had a solo that yeah, I absolutely was a little scared that I’d mess up and delay the next scene, so I made sure to get out of my head and into my body. But we had a limited time to shoot those scenes, so they were aware of how the editing would go< I trusted that we kept it moving. Season 3 is on some other level, though! I can’t wait to see my ELH familia fulfill that potential that was there with the Bomb Squad.

When you're away from the show. Do you think about your character and think about the things you like and hate about her?

TP: I think about the situations I want to see her in. And I tend to think about it when ELH addicts (super fans of the show) remind me of the things they liked/hated about her. Cuz it’s usually that way – people have very strong reactions to her that I was surprised by.

What should we expect from Vanessa De La Cruz in the upcoming season?

TP: Well, now you get to see her grow up a little. She’s a resilient young woman who’s figuring it out. She’s still very much her own but now she’s in another ballgame having to be honest with who she is and what she’s about. She doesn’t take being HIV+ lightly. She’s responsible but still falls into some trouble and that was really great to experience.

You've also starred in several films such as "Devil May Call", "The Stockroom" and of course, your debut film, "An Ornament of Faith". What were your experiences like working on these films, especially your first one?

TP: Ornament was my first lead, it was back home and it was tough, in a good way. It was offered to me after so many no’s on other films the casting directors worked on. It was at a point in my life where I felt defeated. I was stripped of a lot of things I loved prior to going into that world, so in a sense, it was the experience that brought me back to the actor I wanted to be. It was also truly independent and raw. I gained so much strength and hope in that transformation that still carries through to my choices to this day.

You also acted off- Broadway. Can you tell us more about your experiences working there.

TP: Well, it more like off-off! I was earning my street cred when I got into it, so to speak. Getting Backstage and getting out there. Educating myself from the ground up because all the actors I admired had a theater background. I knew I would be competing with people who had done it since they were kids or JulIiard/NYU folks or were just lucky to be among family in the biz. I had no plans of moving to LA so theater was where it was at for me.

Was being in an off-Broadway play helped you with your confidence when you get in front of the camera and having to do tough scenes in East Los High?

TP: It’s the spine that dictates everything else. I swear I could’ve been off- Bway but then I left! It’s funny, when I started acting on camera, it was strange for me to be in an actual true to life set because I really got a kick out of imagining a lot of details on a stage. It maximized my sense memory. I did some really bare bones work that really trained my imagination in a way that’s still very useful when things have to change on the fly or props are missing or yes, actors go missing! The show must always go on and it was a lesson on being adaptable.

Do you find it harder or easier to work on television than a movie or a Broadway show?

TP: One of my dreams is to work on Broadway. It’s some serious love that I’m craving to experience. The content on TV is so complex now and welcoming to women that I can see how working on a TV show can be as equal or more difficult. Depends on the material and I am definitely down to get dirty. Film has its own quality. I study film as well, so I know it can definitely be hard. I think when it’s easy, it’s boring. They each have their challenges and that’s why I’m eager to work in all of them.

You also did some voiceover work for various commercials as well. Do you feel that working on those has given you more experience of being more mentally prepared for when you're in front of the camera and also working with directors?

TP: It’s the closest I’ve been to feeling like a musician, where I can feel my instrument and not have to worry about camera angles, wardrobe fitting too tight, location, etc…external elements. I also love the focus on the voice telling a complete story. I especially like when directors can pull unexpected things from me in that setting. It feels very intimate.

If there was an actor or actress that you would like to work with, who would it be?

TP: So many! Daniel Day Lewis, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz in Spanish! Tina Fey, Michael Fassbender, Denzel, Cate Blanchet, Viola Davis, Julianne Moore, I mean Taraji Henson! De Niro cuz come on, NY! And invite Louie CK. I need to laugh.

Is there a person that you confide in for personal advice while you're doing your show or working on a movie when something isn't quite right and need a confidence boost?

TP: My manager knows the deal. She is also a hard-working woman who makes me laugh and in turn, I laugh at myself, the end.

In looking back at your work so far, what would be the biggest goal that you both would love to accomplish as an actress?

TP: I’m fortunate to be here at a time when Latinos are showing up more than ever. I would love to portray characters that haven’t been seen before, tap into some history. Do some sci-fi on some Ray Bradbury tip. I would love to work with Alfonso Cuaron, Scorcese, Christopher Nolan, etc. there are great male directors, sure. But to be part of a production with a great female director by amazing female producers with a script by a breakthrough female writer….you get my drift. Material that really pushes through on all fronts. To contribute to the culture and change the landscape. And on a side note, I really need to make something my nieces and nephews can see and be proud of. I’m talking Pixar.

Do you want to write and direct your own movie one day?

TP: Right now, I want to collaborate and learn from more talented people. I’m not sure if I want to do a vanity project when there are very talented people out there I want to work with. We’ll see!

There many aspiring actors in this world and I’m still personally growing as one, what advice would you give to those trying to succeed?

TP: Plan to not have a plan and keep learning and studying. Take chances. There’s constant discouragement, so keep people around you that lift you up. Listen. Most of all don’t try. Do.

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Very special thanks to Tracy Perez for being so gracious with her time and for the great interview. Very special thanks to Brenda Camperos for all your support and her invaluable help.

Watch the excellent Tracy Perez on Hulu's hit original exclusive series, East Los High in the upcoming Third Season which is now streaming.

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Tracy Perez's Bio

"Tracy Perez is a compassionate, outgoing, and talented actress, lighting up the screen with her inspiring performances. Her career has been bolstered by her impressive work on Devil May Call (2013) and An Ornament of Faith (2013), in which she played a rebel working a suicide hotline and starred as a homosexual sociopath trapped in the stark fringes of Newark, New Jersey respectively.

Perez is best known for her role as Vanessa De La Cruz, the vengeful Queen Bee dance captain on the hit Hulu original series East Los High. In the upcoming season 3, Perez will explore new dimensions of her character, as Vanessa struggles with life after being diagnosed HIV+. East Los High was recently nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding New Approaches Drama Series category.

Since her lauded series performance, Perez has performed in the ensemble comedy shot in the Spanish Harlem, The Stockroom (2015), the short film Los (2015), which was written by three juvenile inmates, and recently wrapped the Fe Bandana teaser for the feature film The Junkie (2015), the true story of a young couple fighting to save a marriage overpowered by addiction.

In addition to her acting career, Tracy also aspires to write and produce, and has worked as a bilingual voice-over artist. Tracy is represented by TCA/Jed Root, and The Management."

© 2015 DANNY GONZALEZ

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