Stephanie Beatriz spoke with Webster students virtually on April 12. The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star talked about representing LGBTQ+ and Latina communities in entertainment.
On April 12, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Stephanie Beatriz joined Webster University for the Spring 2021 Virtual Headliner Series. The event was moderated by Marcella Arguello, who is the host and booker of “Women Crush Wednesdays,” an improv show based in Los Angeles.
Beatriz is a bisexual Latina woman who advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and queer representation in the entertainment industry. She helped shape her character’s story on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Detective Rosa Diaz, because of the close reflection of her own. In the show, Diaz identifies as a bisexual woman.
“The episode is the thing that allowed that parent to have that discussion with me. It gave them the words, they said the words in the episode back to me, ‘We love you no matter what.’ If that’s my parent, what’s happening in other places?” Beatriz said during the event.
Along with the LGBTQ+ representation, Beatriz also represents Latinas on screen. During the event, she talked about her new film “In the Heights” which is set to release in the summer. The film includes a cast of Latinx actors.
“It was totally a reflection of what the actual fabric of Latinidad is in the United States. We are not a monolith. We’re not one culture. We’re not one anything. We come from so many different places and have had so many different experiences. The thing that this film does really well is reflect that community,” Beatriz said during the event.
At the end of the session, Arguello turned to the crowd for questions for Beatriz.
“Being a Hispanic actor major, I’m torn between only performing and working on Latinx pieces. What would you say is better, to brand out or try to represent people like me?” Webster student Nate Ayala asked.
Beatriz said, “Some of the most incredibly written things ever in the English language were not written with people like me playing those roles in mind. When I think about one of the greatest roles I’ve ever played, Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” Tennessee Williams didn’t write that role thinking about me playing it. But I sure as hell played the f- out of it.”
With events like the Spring Headliner Series, the Student Event Coordinators in Campus Activities and Jennifer Stewart, the director of the Office of Student Engagement, make the decision on who to invite to speak at the school. There is a middle agent who works with direct contact with the speaker’s agencies. The agency starts with the school’s topic, dates, and budget and goes from there.
“We look for speakers who are recognizable and interesting but often also have other things that they are passionate about besides just the thing they might be most known for,” Stewart said.
While COVID-19 has had an impact on the face-to-face events the university has been able to host, Stewart explained the virtual events will continue to be implemented. This is due to the accessibility it has created for students and because of the flexibility it provides to the speakers.