In 2018 Love, Simon broke new ground as the first major studio film to focus on a gay teen romance. It created a buzz all around Hollywood and the United States as a story that most people were ready to see. Now Hulu has brought the sequel to Love, Simon to a new original series title Love, Victor. The series follows a teenager named Victor who is on a journey of self-discovery during which he faces challenges at home, adjusts to a new city and a new high school and struggles with his sexual orientation.
I was able to discuss the new Hulu series with actress Ana Ortiz who plays Isabel in the new series.
Nancy Tapia: Hi! People would think this show is just for teenagers. However, from watching it, it’s for all ages.
Ana Ortiz: Thank you. I think so too. I think they did a really good job of sort of making the family life an essential part of the show, because I think growing up Latina, questioning who you are and worrying about not being accepted by your family is a very real thing in our community. I’m so excited to be able to start the conversation, hopefully if a kid out there is struggling and doesn’t know how to have this conversation with their parents, particularly a Latinx kid, that they can sit down and watch this with their parents. Maybe that would start a conversation, and that would really be such a huge thing for our show.
Nancy Tapia: What attracted you to playing the role of Isabel? As an adult character in the show, your character is put into quite some predicaments with the relationship with her kids.
Ana Ortiz: Yeah. This role for me, it’s sort of like one of those, it comes along, it’s like a dream, because I’m working with such an exciting group of newcomers. I was so turned on by the story and so excited to tell this story, and that’s just the kids. Then to come into the family set and to have that same dynamic of people who are really, really wanting to work to make this authentic and real. So for me, it was sort of a no brainer, and the creators of the show said, we really need the family to be an essential part of the show.
Listen, representation does matter, and I think in our culture, machismo is still such a huge part of what it means to be Latin, for better or worse. I think that’s a brilliant part of us, but there’s room for more, and I think, like I said, to be able to start opening the minds and to start seeing other sides of things, and Isabel’s struggle was real. I know so many mothers go through that, I know in my own family when you believe so fervently and so righteously in your God and what has been told to you through your whole life, that being gay is a sin and that you might go to hell, and to worry so much for your kids that that’s going to happen. To have that belief challenged, it was an exciting and really provocative role to play, there’s so many layers there, and I just think it’s a really important conversation to start having. I think it’s a really important conversation to start having within the Latino community. We need this show right now, and I’m just so excited.
Nancy Tapia: Love, Victor covers kids struggleto be accepted. But there’s also a hidden message about accepting their parents regardless of their faults, because regardless, they are the parents.
Ana Ortiz: Right. That’s right, my kids are young right now, they’re eight and 10, so they’re not quite teenagers, and it was a real insight into sort of what my future might hold, for better or for worse. So it was really fun, and the young actress who plays my daughter, her name is Pilar, she is one to watch. She is the most soulful, incredibly deep young girl, and my scenes with her when we were fighting were so informative to me as a mom. Isabel is struggling with so many things. She’s struggling with her marriage, she’s struggling with how to raise her kids in what she considers the right way. She’s struggling because she wants to work. I think Isabel has some real feministic qualities that she can’t acknowledge within herself, because that’s sort of antithesis for her, and I think the fact that she’s ready to start maybe branching out on her own, she has more in common with Victor then than maybe she knows.
Nancy Tapia: Well, obviously I can’t really spoil it, but I did not expect that ending for Isabel.
Ana Ortiz: I know.
Nancy Tapia: I hope it works out.
Ana Ortiz: It’s so funny, because James Martinez is this incredible, wonderful, remarkable, deep, compelling actor who plays Armando. When we got this, we were like, “No! I don’t want this! I want us to be together.” So it was heartbreaking. Doing those scenes and having those conversations, they were real for us. We really became so close, all of us, as a family, and that’s such an important part when you’re acting is to really have that connection. Thank God that they cast this show so beautifully. So we really became so attached to each other, and it was almost like the cameras were rolling and we didn’t even really have to act, we were just in that moment. Yeah, I’m praying for a second season, because I just want to know where it goes.
Nancy Tapia: I agree. On another note, there was a scene where you sing a Selena song. Was that improvised? Did you get to pick a song? Or was that already in the script? I found it to be a nice detail.
Ana Ortiz: Oh, thanks. We wanted the Selena song, for sure, and we were so excited that the family let us, and they don’t give permission for their music, and rightly so. I would hate to think of that being sort of exploited for an insurance commercial and what have you. So we felt really blessed, and all of us being such huge Selena fans, it was a really emotional, tender moment, and one of my favorites, and I love to get a chance to sing anytime I can. It was really emotional, I have to give a shout out and say thank you so much to Selena’s estate and the family for giving us that special moment. It was really kind and generous of them, and it was really the only song we wanted.
Nancy Tapia: What scene would you say was the most challenging for you? You did have some intense scenes. Especially with Pilar, who plays your daughter.
Ana Ortiz: It’s hard for me to remember the particular episode each scene was in, but I will say the scene where we had to sit down at the table with them and explain to them the truth about why we had moved. It was such an emotional scene, and when you shoot these emotional scenes, you’re shooting them for hours, so to maintain that level of emotion and to really keep it real and to stay in that moment, it’s difficult to express what it was that we were expressing, and I’m just so in awe of my fellow actors, particularly the young ones, because they never relented, they never didn’t bring their all to every take. Even when the camera wasn’t on them, they were so present.
When I tell you that these kids, these young actors, all of them, even the ones who played the school scenes, when they would come to set, they didn’t bring their phones, they weren’t taking selfies, they weren’t on Insta. They were focused, they were in the moment, they were talking about the scenes, we were talking about what’s happening in the world. These kids are super involved. It was so cleansing to be around them, because you think so much, you think of young people in one way, and then it’s proven to you a complete opposite, and I think that will really shine through in this show. These kids are ready to change the world, and if it’s one thing at a time, this one little show can start a conversation, I’m here for it.
Nancy Tapia: So to finalize, playing the role of a parent, Isabel. What do you hope parents take away from watching this series?
Ana Ortiz: I hope what they take away is the need, and I’m at fault myself at this as a parent, a lot of times, is to just listen, to stop talking, to stop sermonizing and to just listen to your kids, because it’s hard, let me tell you. It’s hard to not have to constantly turn everything into a teachable moment, but I think parents have to accept that they can have teachable moments too. What I hope people gain from this, what I hope is that families sit down to watch the show together, and what I hope is that it opens a lot of different conversations for whatever struggle anybody’s going through. How do you speak to your kids? How do you speak to your parents? Especially for, I’m going to say it, for Latinx families, we can start having these more provocative conversations, we can start questioning, and we don’t have to sort of blindly believe one thing that we’ve been told our whole life.
Nancy Tapia: Well, that’s great. I’m sure that it will touch a lot of families out there. Especially for Latin families that need to discuss these issues. Thank you so much Ana for your time.
Ana Ortiz: Thank you, Nancy. This was fun.
Love,Victor will debut on Hulu Wednesday June, 17.
Continue the LRM Online conversation on Discord by CLICKING HERE!
Have you checked out LRM Online’s official podcast feed yet The LRM Online Podcast Network? This includes our flagship podcast Los Fanboys, our premiere podcast Breaking Geek Radio: The Podcast, GeekScholars Movie News, and our morning show LRMornings. Check it out by listening below. It’s also available on all your favorite podcast apps!