Stephanie Beatriz Breaks Down Directing ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’

Image Courtesy of Variety

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” made its move from Fox to NBC this month, marking the sixth season Stephanie Beatriz is portraying the gruff but lovable Det. Rosa Diaz. It is her longest-running role, and it may just be the one most close to her, as she personally inspired Rosa’s coming out storyline on the show last season. But Beatriz is not a one-character wonder, also grabbing attention for her portrayal of Gloria’s sister on “Modern Family,” her vocal performances in the animated “Danger & Eggs” and “BoJack Horseman,” and starring in and exec producing indie feature “The Light of the Moon” in 2017.

What keeps “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” fresh for you, this far in and knowing Rosa inside and out?

What struck me when you just said that is “Oh no, I don’t!” This woman is someone who keeps so many secrets, and I think she’s one of those women that keeps secrets from herself, really. And what’s been exciting about the development of the character over the course of now six seasons is that the writers continue to surprise me — especially in the way that they’re able to find a really funny balance between who Rosa wants to be in the world and who Rosa surprises herself with who she is. I think a lot of women that are ambitious and driven and good at their jobs can often be surprised by their capacity for being good in other realms. … And the way they’ve developed Rosa’s love life is surprising to me because she’s finding that she kind of wants to be in love and that’s not necessarily something you might think about from such a loner character.

You’re making your directorial debut this season with a topical #MeToo episode. What made this time, and this story, right for you to step behind the camera?

Well, first I’ve finally actually done over 100 episodes of television, where before I had really only done guest stars, and that was a huge part of it — logging these educational hours and watching our writers and everyone on our crew create. In the beginning I really didn’t know how long this show would last, so I was just doing everything I could to learn as much as I could in the chunk of time, and then it was two seasons and then it was three, and every time we got extended, an alarm went off in my brain that said, “OK buckle down and study even more. Watch, watch, watch what everyone is doing.” I finally wanted to ask, but I thought, “Is anyone going to trust me? I didn’t go to school for this.” I don’t have the background in this, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible, so it was very scary to ask Dan Goor and our producers if I could take on an episode, but I finally felt brave enough and I asked and they granted it.

Going forward, how heavily do you want to incorporate producing and directing into the work you put out?

The only way any of this work happens is someone has to direct it, so in the words of one of my favorites, Mindy Kaling, why not me? I have a viewpoint; I have things to say; I have a very specific worldview. And in specificity, it is universal, and that’s why watching what got nominated and won at the Globes was thrilling [this year]. There are stories from groups that have traditionally been marginalized and set to the side, “No one cares about your story, no one cares about what you have to say.” But that’s not true, and we’re seeing it more and more. We’re seeing it at the box office and we’re seeing it in the work that’s becoming applauded for its artistry, and I want to be a part of that.

Read the full interview: www.variety.com

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