Near the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert sits Torreón, Mexico, the birthplace of up-and-coming actress Cristina Rodlo. In a little over a decade, Rodlo has covered everything from comedy to crime thrillers as she made her U.S. debut early this year. Through her work in Sony’s Miss Bala, Amazon Prime’s Too Old to Die Young and AMC’s The Terror: Infamy, Rodlo often finds herself playing roles with strong female characters and complex stories of the Latinx experience. She’s booked, she’s busy, but she’s just getting started — be on the lookout for her latest role in Paramount’s comedic drama 68 Whiskey, where she’ll which set to be out next year.
Let’s talk about your crime thriller film “Miss Bala.” What was your experience like as you launched your U.S. debut?
It was an amazing experience. I remember when I was thirteen the movie “THIRTEEN” directed by Catherine Hardwicke came out, and I just absolutely loved it. By that time, I already knew I wanted to be an actress; it was a movie that stuck with me through all my adolescence. To be in a movie directed by Catherine was a dream come true for me, and then you add the fact that this was my first project in the U.S. with a big studio behind it and an amazing cast — I had to pinch myself everyday just to make sure that this wasn’t a dream.
You have twenty-six acting credits, three of which — Sony’s “Miss Bala,” Amazon Prime’s “Too Old to Die Young” and AMC’s “The Terror: Infamy” — are big Hollywood films. What advice would you give to aspiring actresses of color currently doing smaller roles, but hoping to get their big Hollywood break?
The best advice I could give is to be patient. Keep working hard, keep preparing yourselves every day. Be nice to everyone, make eye contact with the casting directors, directors, producers. When you go to a casting, enjoy it and then let go, don’t over think about the job you just did. Most importantly, don’t give up, because at the end it’s all worth it.
Is there a role that was particularly hard to say goodbye to?
Yaritza from “Too Old to Die Young” has been the hardest one to let go. Every day even when I wasn’t shooting, I would be thinking about her or talking like her or walking like her. It was very tough to get her out of me.
Your character, Yaritza, in “Too Old to Die Young” is such a strong, fearless character. What was it like preparing for the role, especially with all the very exciting and badass action scenes like the motel shooting?
It was superb. Exhausting. Crazy. Fun. I truly went through all the emotions while playing Yaritza. It was hard to prepare because Nic our director would change pretty much everything every day. He would have a new idea, and we would do that instead of what we were supposed to do originally. But it was amazing, I would have to be prepared for everything. Most importantly, it was about trusting our director, completely believing in what he was asking for and work hand-in-hand with him.
What have you learned about yourself as you perform in these roles, all of which are very different from one another?
I think I haven’t had time to really digest everything that I’ve learned. I’ve been very, very lucky to have played such powerful female characters, with great storytelling and a very powerful voice. All my characters have something to say and something they stand for, which to me is very important. I’m truly grateful to have played every one of them and each of them has a piece of me. They’ve taught me to keep fighting for what I believe in. To raise my voice. To be patient. To be fearless.
On the subject of powerful voices, you played the role of Luz Ojeda in “The Terror: Infamy,” a story about identity and forbidden love in American internment camps during WWII. Considering the history and context of the TV series, do you see any parallels to our current history?
Definitely. We are repeating history, that’s why this story is so important to be told. We need to know what we’ve done before, and we need to acknowledge it, so we can stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
You’re currently working on Paramount’s “68 Whiskey,” a comedic drama based on the Israeli TV show Charlie Golf One. Tell us more about your character Rosa Alvarez, and what you’re most excited about the TV series.
Alvarez is a combat medic in the U.S. Army. She is a very tough girl, but is also very sensitive. She is going through a lot of problems back home because her family is being deported, and she is fighting for that country that just deported her family.
I’m so excited about everything on this show. It’s so well written, very humorous; it also touches on a lot of the political situations that are happening right now. I think people are going to find the show very enjoyable and at the same time make them do some self-reflection.
With all the immigration policies and behavior of this current political administration, what conversation do you hope your character brings to the table?
I truly hope that people watch this show and understand that we come to this country to work, to dream of a better life, to have a better present and an even brighter future for us and our families. I hope all immigrants find hope with my character, and that North Americans (because all of us in the Western hemisphere are Americans) realize that we’re here to help; we’re here to unite ourselves.
With Hispanic Heritage Month coming to a close, I wanted to ask about your experience as a Latina in the film industry. From an actress’ perspective, how does inclusion and diversity affect storytelling?
I think storytelling benefits with diversity. Look at our society — we all come from different backgrounds, different cultures, we all look different. How boring would it be if we all looked the same? That’s why we need to stop discriminating. We need to stop labeling each other. We are one race: Human. We need to come together; that’s the only way change is going to happen.