We are so proud to feature the ever enchanting Eiza Gonzalez. We spoke with Eiza about honing her intuition and her new film I Care A Lot, which examines the standard givens in terms of the prescribed roles we are used to, both in life and on the big screen. Read on about Eiza’s own journey of evolution and surviving and even thriving in crazy times, and how she always finds the courage to write her own rules and her own story. Read on below…
BY ERIN WALSH
PHOTO CHRISTIAN HOGSTEDT
MAKEUP Chanel Beauté @welovecoco #welovecoco
Erin Walsh HELLO DARLING EIZA! We are so excited to feature you here at SBJCT Journal. I would love to start at the beginning- can you tell us a bit about growing up in Mexico and how you got started in the industry?
Eiza Gonzalez Growing up in Mexico was so special and unique. I grew up in Mexico City, but I would spend my summers in Sonora with my large family (my mom is one of 8 children!). When home, we would also leave to our house in the woods every weekend. In essence, I grew up in an explosive city but was able to balance this out by appreciating the deserted beauty of the border, and I was the wild child who was able to run alone through the woods at 5-6 years old. This is collectively a summary of who I am. I was raised fully in Mexican soil and couldn’t be prouder of it.
EW Were you born as a performer? You obviously started at a young age- was it you who wanted to get into acting, did your parents support/ push you? With child actors, I know it varies from family to family…
EG I fell in love with singing first at around 8-years-old and took it pretty seriously, but my health, even at a young age, was always complicated. I’ve had terrible allergies since I was born, so at one-years-old I had my adenoids and tonsils removed. I was (and I still am) always sick and losing my voice, so that dimmed the light on that dream. I kept doing it and sadly when my father passed away when I was 12, my mom wanted to find anything for me to do to distract me from the void his death left. I was in every extracurricular class, including musical theatre. It just happened immediately on my first day. I just knew at 12 that this is what I was meant to do for the rest if my life. I never looked back.
EW What was it like being in the spotlight at a young age? Did you feel safe?
EG It was brutal. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am not trying to sound dramatic, but it’s a lot for a kid. I think of how innocent my desire was because I just felt so immersed in the possibilities of not being me. At that time, it was the best thing I could do. Escape myself. The public eye had a different plan for me. From the day I became a public figure, I always caused some kind of morbidity to the Latin press. Now you find yourself as a young child trying to fulfill everyone’s exceptions, which is unrealistic, versus focusing on what you actually want to create as an artist. There is not a lot of freedom in a world where anything you do you is possibly letting your audience down. Let alone the complexity that comes with growing up and everyone having a say on anything you do. It was brutal.
DRESS St John RINGS Bulgari NECKLACE Bulgari EARRINGS Melissa Kaye, Cartier, Anita Ko
EW After many successful years as a working actor in Mexico, you eventually relocated to LA- was that always in the cards? What was the transition like for you?
EG It was wild. The reason why it happened was completely just kismet. I was coming out of a hard public experience with a partner and I just wanted to hide under a rock. I was so devastated, so I rented a room in LA at some this lady’s house who was landscaper. I hid in there sad for weeks. Then, my mother who is always pro-actively looking for ways to cheer me up said, “Oh I’ve heard about this thing called IMDBPro through a friend. I heard you have a profile. I’m going to update it maybe you will get an audition.” Of course the first thing I thought was “SURE MOM. People spends years trying to get managers and agents and you are going get me an audition.” Hollywood was never a reality for me. It was like such a wild dream I didn’t even like to think of it. So I didn’t pay much attention. The next week, she rang me telling me I had to get ready for an audition. It didn’t have a title you had to just show up. I had no idea how even to audition here (it’s much, much different in Latin America). So, I did it and I was terrified because I’d never worked in English in my life. Then shockingly I got a call back. And then another. And then it turned out I was reading for a huge film, I was so shocked. Ultimately, I didn’t get it and flew back to Mexico keeping that experience in my heart. A week later, a casting director calls my shitty flip phone I had bought in a 7/11 to tell me a director wanted me to audition for him. I put myself on tape on the spot and the next day I was flying to LA. Two auditions later, Robert Rodriguez was casting me for the lead of his new show, and I moved the next week to Austin, Texas. Since then, well here I am. Hahaha crazy!
DRESS Ralph and Russo
EW Tell me about your relationship with this town. What do you love/ hate about it?
EG I always had a connection with LA and would use every excuse I could to visit. Dreaming of Hollywood, that smell of old hotels in LA, was something that I idolized. It is engulfing and always inspires me. I recharged in LA for a long period of time before actually having a career here. I grew up saving money with my friends and paying for a Motel 8 room next to the In-N-Out on Sunset to see the warp tour. We would all sleep in a shitty room and have more fun than ever. It’s funny how 15 years later I live here. My love for LA changed. I hate to say it, but we’ve heard it before…there’s the city and then there’s some of the people. This city attracts a lot people that are here for the wrong reasons. The longer I’ve been here, the more I stay to my close group of friends. I don’t do anything but go to friends’ houses or go surfing and enjoy what I didn’t have in my city growing up. Which is natural. There’s a lot of temptation in this city and I try to stay as far as possible from it and keep my head in the game.
I am truly lucky I got my mom’s intuition
EW Who helped you navigate the industry when you were starting here? And how did and do you keep track of yourself while growing in the public eye and with so many opinions (agents, the public, the internet, endorsements, etc.) to be aware of?
EG I have always been close to my family. It’s only been my mom, my brother and me. I always call them to cry or to share something special. They are the only people I truly care about. Growing up and not having a stage mom was such a blessing because I could always be me and honest around my mother. She was always honest with no horse in the race (even though I am her baby). She is such a good-hearted woman and she never wanted anything from me. She has always been really smart with her advice. She also knows she came from zero money and built her own business alone. So, she knows I’ve always been the same girl. I know it sounds conceited to say, but nothing has changed about my thoughts of myself from when I was doing soap operas to now. If anything, I think about the worst now a lot more than I did when I was younger; I guess we become harder on ourselves. I learned that at a young age by seeing what was written about me, it could not be further from who I was, so I learned not to care. I was heartbroken when I was younger because I was so innocent, and I truly wanted to just do my job and live a normal life. Now I just feel confident with the person I am in that sense. I am truly lucky I got my mom’s intuition in the business world so no one ever thinks they can screw me over.
RINGS Ana Khouri, Cartier, Melissa Kaye
DRESS Ralph and Russo
DRESS David Koma
EW Let’s talk I CARE A LOT. I love how it is so many things at once, all multilayered and multidimensional. Tell us about the film and your role in it.
EG I love watching movies with chaotic characters. It makes me feel like we are normalizing people being imperfect. So I CARE A LOT felt just right. When I read it, I was already picturing Rosamund saying that opening monologue and it gave me chills. It’s important to portray women trying to succeed in a world that isn’t set up for us to do so, and how sometimes we can be devoid of shame and that it is ok. I think there are numerous subtle subjects that this movie normalizes on screen. From people who have seen it, I think their reaction is so interning because they a lot of the times feel uncomfortable. That to me is a success because it’s makes you revalue certain subject matters. Fran is a multifaceted woman who does a fucked up job but still somehow battles with morality and is passionate lover. Marla inspires her but also drives her crazy. It’s a complex relationship that I loved.
Don’t be fooled, even sadistic and immoral assholes turn old.
EW What do you hope people take from the film?
EG I’d hope people revalue home care facilities. I have nothing against care takers, they can be wonderful. However, people forget their loved ones in there and not everyone out there is a good person. Also, I love that this movie puts a halt on certain predisposed ideas we have about things. I love this line that Marla says: “Don’t be fooled, even sadistic and immoral assholes turn old.” And it’s true, not everything that shines is gold.
EW Tell us more about Fran. What excited you about playing her? And what really helped you in terms of preparation and finding her?
EG I loved the energetic and visual juxtaposition she is to Marla. Fran is the perfect foil for her ice queen immoral go getter. She is her anchor and the emotional anchor of the movie. In a film that crosses genres like ours, it’s important to keep in mind what your role is bringing to the story. It was a huge opportunity for me to get out of the box of what people think of me in casting and a chance to really act with some of the best in the game.
BATHING SUIT AND BELT Chanel PANTS Schiaparelli
EW I love when films deign to tell stories outside of the stereotypes, like this film has managed to do. In terms of picking your projects, how does that work? Are there certain boxes you are looking to check or…
EG I mean, I’d love to say I sit in a place where I can pick, but I don’t. Don’t forget, I am still a Mexican woman and the industry still struggles to find a decent place for women like me and give us the chance to have longevity intertwined with credibility. I try my absolute best within the circumstances and try to chase the unconventional jobs. I do not always get them. If I want to keep working, sometimes there are only some jobs open, and they’re not necessarily leading ladies. Those come once in a blue moon. Everyone wants to discover someone new so it becomes harder. That’s why I’m focusing on producing my own material. I am a bit tired of the industry dictating me what I can and cannot be.
EW You have many years as a working actor under your belt. The industry has evolved and quaked in the past few years, from Me Too to a new Covid landscape to navigate. What are some changes you have been happy to see embraced in this evolution?
EG It has changed a lot from the actual time I moved here to now. I feel like it is all thanks to the audiences. The audience is very vocally dictating what they want to see onscreen and the industry had no other option than to adapt. I am more grateful than anything for the people raising their voices about what they want to see onscreen and backing it up. Social media truly has helped a lot, especially for minorities that get shunned in a predominantly white male driven industry. It is changing and again, the business had no other choice but to progress and adapt because that is how the world looks.
EW What do you think still needs major addressing in the industry?
EG I think that they have to allow more minorities to lead and get their chance. We do get more jobs, but I feel like half of them feel as a racial card versus an organic choice. Most of the time, they are supporting roles if it’s not intertwined with a special Latinx/Asian/Black story. I feel like the revolution that happened in 2020 has woken people up to understand that it has been enough. Also, the industry needs to realize that it has favored men for ages now. There are a lot of talented women in every realm. The fact that this is the first time we see more than one woman getting nominated for best director is wild to me. I hope people realize that it has had nothing to do with talent, but lack of opportunities provided to women to prove themselves. It’s changing. But verrrryy slowly. Let’s get it moving people. We ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.
SHOE Christian Louboutin
EW How do you change the systemic issues of Hollywood with your role in it- from say typecasting to sexism to racism, all of it- do you feel like you spend much time trying to shift the current paradigm or shape of things? I realize this is a heady question, but I know what a brave, badass woman you are and I think our readers would be curious to know how you get what you want when current conditions and a current landscape perhaps isn’t ideal?
EG Well, this an interesting question. For instance, the fact that I go into rooms sometimes for auditions and come out and think things like, “Oh, they already casted another Latin in the movie so I don’t stand a chance” (because how is there going to be more than two Mexicans in a story if it’s not directly correlated to a Latin story). I also think of things that have nothing to do with my performance, which can sometimes be overwhelming. I’ve read other colleagues’ interviews and they talk about how they feel like they don’t stand a chance because we have really limited opportunities. That being said I try my best to stay away from playing stereotypes and go for characters that have nothing to do with my ethnicity. Not because I don’t feel proud of being Latin, I am as Mexican as it comes. I’m just tired of excusing my presence in projects. If the role or the movie has no reference to where I am from, I try to avoid playing into any stereotype. At the same time, I don’t write every project so sometimes the number of jobs out there are limited. If you don’t do some, you won’t work sometimes. I think we have to elevate the writing in that sense.
EW What keeps you centered these days?
EG Man, it’s hard these days. Just like for everyone else. It’s day by day pushing through. Some days I can’t even pick myself up from bed and other days I feel like Wonder Woman. Creating is something that keeps me lasered focus. Being able to work and film while in a pandemic and focus on things I want to produce have kept me full of endorphins when I’m slipping. I struggle with quieting my mind sometimes, so I have to discipline myself. It takes effort and consistency.
EW What are you most hopeful for, career-wise, going forward?
EG That I get to open more opportunities for others. When I got a real chance to have the Hollywood experience, I realized that my life goal was not going to be about me, but to be of service to others. I am trying to use the small amount of things I’ve garnished to create for others and use my name at one point to produce for my fellow women and actresses that want a different story to be told. I’d love to move more and more towards producing and directing.
I realized that my life goal was not going to be about me, but to be of service to others.
TOP Balmain SKIRT Chanel
EW What makes you hopeful outside of your career?
EG My family and friends. Nature. The way that society is uniting more than ever. Seeing young people feeling empowered to raise their voice for what they want. Seeing a mixed-race woman as a Vice President. Seeing AOC at the Congress being vocal about important subject matters. Seeing a clear progression for generations to come and the open mentality that is being forged. I’m proud to be alive in this time in history as a proud Mexican immigrant.
EW You obviously have a huge audience and many eyeballs concerned about what you do. How do you use your platform to bring attention to causes you care about? What are some of your favorite causes and charities to support?
EG I love bringing awareness and information to people about what really is happening at the borders. The way the news relays information is always muddled with some kind of agenda. I love helping people learn what the Latin experience is, what it is like to grow up in a third world country, and how some parents will do anything to help and save their families. Making them see they are real people and not just some face they see on a newspaper. I believe in immigration laws, but I also believe in the need of a better life and how humans are capable to do anything to protect and save their families. I like to bring awareness to animal rights and the importance of adopting not buying.
EW Do you keep anything in the way of 5 or 10 year plans?
EG No, I never plan that ahead. I believe in thinking too much of the past and future only brings anxiety. I live very present. Life shook me at a very young age to live in that state and it was possibly a blessing in disguise. I’m here today grateful for every second. Tomorrow who knows.
CORSET LBV PANTS Schiaparelli
EW What keeps you sane during these uncertain times?
EG No one is staying sane. And it’s ok. We are all losing it. I can’t even indulge in this knowing that there are people out there really struggling who are losing everything. I’m not allowed to complain. I’m blessed and all I want to do is to stay healthy. That’s all I ask for.
EW Favorite place in the world?
EG Mexico. No place like it. And maybe Italy and Hawaii.
EW Anything in the way of a mantra?
EG I always go back to “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It encapsulates how I feel about my life.
EW What must we read?
EG I don’t know hahaha I think that’s for the reader to decide. Maybe I’m just as predictable as they think I am.
EW What must we SEE?
EG Hmmm the Criterion Channel. It’s great to see movies from around the world and learn from different artistic expressions. I love documentaries as well.
EW What do you hope to leave behind in terms of your legacy?
EG Omg I could never think of myself as leaving a legacy. I only try to make efforts to bring awareness to certain subjects throughout my career.
EW Eiza Gonzalez, What’s Your SBJCT? What really moves and motivates you?
EG I think the answers to this whole interview really answers that question hahaha.
No one is staying sane. And it’s ok. We are all losing it.