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Baker And The Beauty’s Belissa Escobedo On The ABC Rom-Com And Her Career

LRM Online recently had a chance to sit down at a roundtable for the upcoming ABC romantic comedy Baker and the Beauty. We had a chance to speak with Belissa Escobedo, who plays the younger sister of Daniel in the show, who is taken away on a whirlwind of a romantic experience. 

Below is the official synopsis for The Baker and the Beauty:

“Daniel Garcia is working in the family bakery and doing everything that his loving Cuban parents and siblings expect him to do. But on a wild Miami night he meets Noa Hamilton, an international superstar and fashion mogul, and his life moves into the spotlight. Will this unlikely couple upend their lives to be together and pull their families into a culture clash?”

The Baker and the Beauty premieres on April 13, 2020!

Press: You’re a teenager on the—

Escobedo: On the show. Yes.

Press: And you’re a teenager in real life too.

Escobedo: No, I’m 21.

Press: No, you’re not.

Escobedo: Yes I am.

Press: Oh my God. You’re the one getting older, right? Well you played a teenager that’s going through some angst.

Escobedo: Yes, yes.

Press: How’s that been? What’s your role?

Escobedo: It’s been really funny, it’s kind of trippy going back and you know, playing your high school self. I really, even when my mom was visiting me on set, seeing me in costume and everything, we both were just like, this was me in high school, same exact clothes. Just the way I was talking, the way I was so melodramatic, Oh my God. Like we make jokes. We were making jokes throughout shooting where it felt like almost every episode I stormed off out of a scene at least twice. Just like angry and like, Oh my parents. So it’s fun going back to that.

Not all these years later, but you know, I’ve grown up a bit since I was 15 I think, I like to think. It’s been nice going back to that with a new perspective and it gives me a lot of sympathy for Natalie and I feel like I, we have a great friendship, her and I. Yeah.

Press: So you, I wonder if you have sympathy for your mom?

Escobedo: Definitely. Oh my gosh. Yeah. I myself am pansexual. That’s how I identify. And coming out in general is a huge thing. You know, it’s a journey you have to get to. You don’t just wake up one morning and you’re like, okay, I’m going to tell everyone I’m gay. That’s it. But I felt growing up in a Latino family, it was a bit harder, a bit more like I really did not know how to navigate it with my parents and how do I bring it up.

And I remember when I brought it up, I just like uttered it out after dinner in the car on the ride home. I was just like, just so you guys know I’m gay so you can’t not like gay people. And my parents just kind of like, okay, this is the first time we’re hearing about this. But I think they were just as confused as I was. And that’s what I realized in that moment. And that’s what I realized coming out to all my family is they were, luckily for me, my family was very much like, we still love you, just tell us what you need from us. And I felt like that is the place that Maria is coming from. My mom on the show, she just has a very passionate way of going about it. But I think at the heart of it, it’s just showing you how it’s amazing that we’re living in a time when our kids at this age are feeling so confident in themselves and who they are, that they’re open to coming out.

But at the same time, the parents grew up in a different time when it was very different. And I like that this show touches on both sides and where you sympathize with both sides because you see where they’re coming from and it’s just a very natural way of communication between a mom and her daughter and how communication can lead to understanding. And I think that’s the biggest thing.

Press: Do you have siblings?

Escobedo: I do. I have an older brother.

Press: Okay I want to know how do you feel victor is an older brother.

Escobedo: Oh my gosh. Victor is an amazing older brother. He really takes on the role of brother on and offset and sometimes I’m like, okay, but we’re not actually siblings, but he’ll just be like, yeah. But no, he’s great. Everyone in that cast, but especially Victor, I think he really zoned in on me and was like, I’m going to take care of you.

It was my first big project, we were living in Puerto Rico for five months, so he really did a great job of making me feel supported.

Press: Yes. He mentioned about him and a younger sister and the way he felt towards you too.

Escobedo: Yeah, he would always say it. Him and David both were just like, this reminds me so much of when we would finish the scene, he was like, this reminds me so much of my sister and I bickering or whatever. That was really nice.

Press: You mentioned this outside, but I like to get it on the record. You mentioned that, Casa 0101 was a big part of you showcasing.

Escobedo: Yes. When I went to New York for school, for about a year and then came back and immediately my favorite play ever is Real Women have Curves by Josefina López.

I’ve loved that since I was really young. At that time I saw that Josefina was casting for a new showcase of hers, a collection of plays. I went and I got in and then from there, I did about three more projects with them just over the months. I was there a lot for almost a good year. At this time they introduced me to some people at the ABC diversity showcase when they were doing these diversity workshops. From there I booked a showcase, got my team and booked this show. But, without Gasa and the connections that they gave me, the people they introduced me to, and the strength that they gave me as an actor. I don’t think I would be sitting here across from you guys.

Press: I know Josefina and she saw something in you.

Escobedo: She’s amazing. Oh my gosh. When I met her, my mom was there and I was like shaking and just like, Oh my God. Like I love you. But it’s an absolute honor to even say that I worked with her.

Press: Casa 0101 is a wonderful place.

Escobedo: It is. It’s amazing. Yeah.

Press: Good for you.

Press: For those don’t know, It’s a theater founded by Josefina Lopez, the playwright. It’s from Boyle Heights and Josefina actually graduated from LACHSA, which is where I went to high school. That’s when I first found out about her. They do amazing outreach within the community of Boyle Heights and they’re always putting like art first as well as education. They’re all about that. They’re a really great program.

Press: It’s a 99-seat theater and has the gallery also.

Escobedo: Yeah. They’re always featuring local artists. They’re always having new things.

Press: It’s totally as a restaurant.

Escobedo: We love it. Oh my gosh. Yeah. My mom really loved when I was doing shows there, she was like, I’m just going to go, order some Sangria and then I’ll go see you, every weekend. But yeah, it’s an amazing place.

Press: As a young actor in the game, as it said, this being a big project so early in your career, want to know how you feel that depth falls on you as a person. And then so far as the responsibility of carrying yourself appropriately, “in the media industry”. Do you feel like you got to keep a low profile? Victor says he likes to keep a low profile. How do you feel?

Press: I don’t know. I think it’s still so new to me, but what I’ve always said, even before I ever thought that I would be in the game, but I always told myself that I never wanted to change myself for the media or anything and I was just going to be who I was and people kind of take it or leave it. I think that’s what I’m carrying into this also. But there is definitely a big responsibility just because there aren’t many people on TV who are shaped the way I am, who looked the way I do. That is scary, I know that when I was growing up all like desperately wished for was to see someone on TV who looked like me. I did get America Ferrera in real women have curves. But, all my life I’ve been hearing that I look like America Ferrera and there’s so many more of us. There’s just so many more looks that people have. I want to be part of that representation, I want to show my little girl cousins at home that we don’t have to look like all these Instagram models it’s about, I don’t know, just being the best you that you can be. As cheesy as that is.

Press: Being a real person.

Escobedo: Yeah. There’re no enhancements that you need.

Press: Oh maybe you guys get picked up for a second season. How are you hoping your image kind of storyline plays out?

Escobedo: I’m hoping that we see more of Natalie navigating school life. Hopefully there’s some more conflict within the school and I really want Natalie and Louis to meet. I think they would be a great duo. I don’t really have any expectations because I’ve been loving where they’re taking Natalie so far and I think they’re not putting so much on her, it’s just a genuine, like this is a 15 year old girl figuring it out and that’s it. And I like that. So I hope it stays along those lines.

Press: Are you also into math the way she is?

Escobedo: That’s funny you asked that because I failed math three years in a row in high school. I was not scholarly, so it’s fun playing Natalie because she’s just, I remember in the pilot they had me reading like a Russian textbook. I was like, who takes Russian at 15? And also who’s just like casually studying on her bed, but, so I was definitely not like Natalie in that. She’s teaching me a lot, that’s for sure. Sometimes they put some vocab words in there where I’m okay. Never heard that one before, but I’ll go with it. But yeah.

Press: Are the writers willing to take any of your input?

Escobedo: Yeah. I think as much as they can. Otherwise, I think we’d have like eight different shows going on, if they were taking everyone’s bits. But I think they do a great job of listening as well as kind of giving.

Press: Right.

Escobedo: And that’s been nice.] Good. Yeah.

Press: Do you have any skills in the kitchen? Victor says that BlueApron and HelloFresh count. We kind of roll our eyes a little bit.

Escobedo: I actually love baking, so I love this show so much. I love to bake. I grew up baking. My mom always grew up cooking, so I love the kitchen. That’s a very big part. I’d like to think that I’m pretty okay at cooking. I know my baking is good, but we’ll see.

Press: You won’t starve them, that’s what you’re saying.

Escobedo: Exactly. If I need to make some cereal, I can whip it up in a second. Yeah.

Press: What do you like to bake?

Escobedo: I love to bake these vegan chocolate chip cookies and then I have this chocolate coffee cake that I love baking. I love pies. They’re really time consuming, but I do love making them when I can. Yeah.

Press: Well you do like math. Because for baking you have to be really precise.

Escobedo: But it’s just written right there. I don’t have to like figure out proportions or anything. I just get the cookie cutter and I’m like, yeah.

Press: Okay, fine.

Press: Well, you being from California, how was it dealing with the earthquake? South in Puerto Rico. Were you like whatever about it?

Escobedo: Oh yeah. At first, I think everyone expected me to be whatever about it because they were like, well you get them all the time in Los Angeles. But the thing is in Puerto Rico, since they never get them, the structures aren’t built for them. So you know how in LA some of us have the rolling thing so you don’t really feel the quake as much. But I was in the tall tower on like the eighth floor. My God, it woke me up at like 4:00 AM I called my mom and was like, it’s over like mum like sobbing. Those were scary. But thankfully, you know where we were, it didn’t hit as hard. The Island definitely wasn’t prepared and it was rough.

Press: You’re also on an Island and so the topography is completely different.

Escobedo: And then immediately when there’s an earthquake, they have to put a tsunami warning out because they just don’t know. Then I was like, Oh my gosh, tsunamis are my biggest fear. I think it shook things up, got our energy back up after the holiday break. I think we got a bit lazy, everything else was great.

Press: You said that you lived in New York for about a year?

Escobedo: I did, yeah.

Press: Would you say that was a great life experience and preparation to being away from home for five months on production?

Escobedo: Oh yeah. You know in New York there are a lot more, they’re a lot more cutthroat, so like if you can make it a year in New York, you can make it like at least five, ten years in LA. But so that was nice. And theater in New York, which is where I started stage do, that’s my roots is so alive there. They’re so vibrant there and I wish it were more like that in LA, but I loved being there for that reason. I was always seeing theater, always going to my friends. Weird experimental pieces. Yeah.

Press: Is that something that you are looking to pursue?

Escobedo: Definitely. I would always love to go back to theater anytime. Yeah. I would always be willing to do that.

Press: Would you say it’s a fair assessment that as far as theater culture, it’s LA it’s not that strong.

Press: It’s getting better

Escobedo: I think it’s getting better. I think there’s definitely been a resurgence, but it’s still has a bit more to go of just making it more. For me it’s all about accessibility, visibility and I mean theater knowledge is pretty pricy still, and there’s not, there are those like grassroots companies that are putting on productions all the time but they’re not as visible because you know LA is just overcrowded with billboards everywhere. So it’s hard to get the word out here, we’re so spread out, which is a lot different from New York. You know, you can get on the subway. Yeah, pretty much.

Press: Are you still doing stuff with Casa? Cause they’re always having productions.

Escobedo: I haven’t been recently just because this is super busy but I really want to get back in touch with them. I want to see if I can have, cause you know the show is going to premiere soon. I’m hoping I can have maybe a screening there, that would be the perfect place. Start calling. I know we have to get on that.

Press: We’ll help you.

Escobedo: Thank you. Yeah. And you guys can all come and we’ll get catered. It’s Perfect. Yeah.

Press: They gave away tacos when they had their grand opening.

Escobedo: Oh yeah. They’re so good. It’s amazing food.

Press: It’s so good, and the art inside is beautiful.

Escobedo: Yeah and it’s all for sale too. It’s amazing.

Press: So I love Real Women have Curves too and identify with that rule a lot. I love Josefina too. I wanted to ask you, do you identify with that role or is there a role that you identify now or that you like to create in the future?

Escobedo: I definitely identify with Ana for sure. I see myself in her a lot and I think the biggest thing that I took away from that production was how she walked away loving herself and that was such a powerful message, you know then and now, but definitely one that I needed growing up.

And I’m glad that I had that and I think I want to provide something very similar to that. And yeah, a big thing for me is mental health, especially with eating disorders. I struggled with an eating disorder all throughout high school for a very long time. That kind of representation is really hard to find, especially for people of color Latinos and that’s what I want to be for people. I want to bring that character for people to have on screen to know that it’s okay, that people go through this.

Press: I think that’s very powerful though because there’s growing up a lot of teenagers, there’s nobody that they feel, they don’t feel relatable.

Escobedo: Exactly. Yeah.

Press: I think that’s a real testament to you and your character on the show.

Escobedo: Yeah. And I think Natalie does on the show, a lot of people I hope will feel seen by her. I definitely, my 15 year old self was like, that’s me. So I’m hoping.

Press: To that point we had a very heartfelt one with Carlos saying that this is very much his parents’ story, his story after so many years in this country as an immigrant. And Lisa says that she sees herself in mighty Victor also sees his parents in the show. You know Michelle as well, her parents were immigrants in this country building from the ground up. I want to know if you see your parents in Carlos send Lisa’s characters.

Escobedo: kind of. Yeah, I’d say there’s definitely some similarities there. I think the way the family handles themselves as a whole reminds me a lot of mine, I see kind of so many of my family members. Like I see my tías in Mati and I see my tíos and Carlos, and my abuelito I see him so much. I see him so much. I think that’s the biggest one. He reminds me a lot of my grandpa. But yeah, I think that parent relationship is such a healthy one and it’s nice to see that on screen, especially in families of color, Latin families, a happy, thriving parent, parent unit is something that we don’t see a lot. And I’m glad that it’s going to be represented. Yeah.

Press: Go ahead.

Press: Going back to the loving family. Yeah. Because that’s the whole thing. I mean family, but, but showing the love. Yeah, it’s there. Yeah. That’s very important.

Press: Another thing that’s been expressed, this is a very much a relief that this is not a family that with a criminal element or, to put it mildly, it’s very much, as Lisa was saying, very much a family going through ordinary things. We just happen to be Latino.

Escobedo: Exactly. And I love the way that Lisa talks about it that way because it’s true. We’re just a romcom family, and my favorite genres is romantic comedies and I mean it’s always white people, in those romantic comedies like falling in love and getting these dream fairy tales and this one it’s not. There is no like, Oh my God, suddenly they’re traffickers and running away. They’re just living their lives and they’re Brown and they speak Spanish. You know?

Press: What’s your favorite romcom?

Escobedo: I think Bridget Jones’ Diary. I do love that romcom. Yeah. It’s so funny.

Press: It’s a strong choice.

Press: Top three.

Escobedo: Yeah what are they?

Press: As Good As It Gets, Something’s Gotta Give and Bridget Jones. Yeah. I’m a sucker for love.

Escobedo: Also Maid in Manhattan J-Lo, The Wedding Planner also J-Lo. She was great.

Press: Did you ever have to run interference for your brother dealing with a psycho ex-girlfriend that may or may not have thrown soup at him.

Escobedo: That would’ve been so much more entertaining, but no, not to that extent. Yeah. It’s wild. Vanessa is my favorite character, hands-down. Yeah. She’s my favorite character. That, and you guys don’t even know. Have you guys seen the pilot? Yeah. Okay. So her singing, that was amazing. Yeah. Yeah. Cracked me up every time.

The Baker and the Beauty premieres on ABC on April 13, 2020!

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