EXCLUSIVE: Paula Garces Talks Murder, Harold and Kumar Animated Series, and Latinas in Hollywood

Paula Garces (Photo: Jair Public Relations)

It’s been ten years since Paula Garces first played Maria in the comedy “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle,” and the Colombian star hasn’t slowed down one bit. Xfinity Latino spoke to Garces during the Miami leg of her press trip promoting her latest project, “The Maid’s Room,” which hits theaters in limited release as well as Xfinity Comcast Video On Demand today.

Shooting this film was relatively fast. What was your experience working on a film on such a tight schedule?

“Yes, the movie took 18 days to finish. I loved the experience because I had to bring my A game every day. The writer/director Michael Walker had an exact plan. The actors, producers, crew and everyone involved in this film had to work as a team every day to fulfill our mission: there was no time to waste.

We had a certain amount of scenes to shoot in very little time, so he promised that if we trusted his direction and his writing— we could do it! If we had doubts and wasted time, there would be no movie. I fully trusted him and his vision. The finished product proves how right he was!”

Tell us about the character of Drina, the maid you play in “The Maid’s Room.”

“Drina is a very humble and intelligent young woman that has big dreams and isn’t afraid to go for it. Like many immigrants in this country, she leaves all of her friends and family behind in her native Colombia to come to this country. She is in search of the American dream to better her life and that of her family by educating herself.

Unfortunately she doesn’t have many job options because she doesn’t have a visa to legally work in the country. So she humbly took on a job cleaning a beautiful mansion in the Hamptons. She doesn’t mind the nature of the job, she does it with dignity and pride; always looking at the bright side of things.”

Why is her story important?

“She very much represents many women in my personal life and I think her story is important for the Latin community because it honestly represents the majority of immigrants in this country as hard working, humble, honest, intelligent people with big dreams that are willing to leave everything that is loved in their life and make incredible sacrifices to better the life of their families children community.

In this film she is the hero and very quickly we are impressed by her morality, loyalty, honesty and sense of justice and of what’s right or wrong no matter the consequences. It’s a refreshing representation of how strong, beautiful and intelligent Latinas are.”

Drina’s murder in the film is a lot more brutal than the one your character suffered on season one of “Devious Maids.” What was it like shooting it?

“It’s so tough to shoot a murder scene. Any scene thats is violent is hard for all parties involved. Emotions and adrenaline are at their highest and it’s always very emotional for me. I always take it very personal and it takes me a while to recover. We didn’t have a lot of time, but again, thanks to Michael Walker and of course Bill Camp, I think they all helped me die a good death.

The audience reactions at a recent screening, which included loud gasps, crying and even yelling at the screen, have been so gratifying to me. It’s wonderful that my performance can bring out those reactions from total strangers. It’s the reason I do what I do, to entertain even with my death.”

You just celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the release of “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.” How did you celebrate?

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since the first ‘Harold & Kumar’ film. To celebrate, we invited our fans to to White Castle for some burgers. It’s always so much fun to get to meet everyone personally and talk about their favorite moments. John Cho, Kal Penn and I have already started recording the animated series and I really can’t wait to see how I Maria will look animated! Fans can expect to see it in 2015 on Adult Swim.”

You’ve been working on TV for 20 years — and paved the way for so many stars of Latin descent. What does that mean to you and what advice do you have for them?

“When I first started I honestly didn’t think of myself as someone that was paving the way for anyone else. But if I did, that’s a bonus! I always felt like I could be a Hollywood Actress. I never saw my background or my current situation as an obstacle. Even when I was a pregnant teenaged girl on welfare living in Spanish Harlem in NYC and many people told me I was crazy or delusional. I always knew it possible to reach my dream no matter how big.

That’s the advice I’d like to give: if you’re passionate about anything and it’s something you just can’t breathe without, then don’t let anyone or anything stop you from reaching that goal. As long as you aren’t intentionality hurting anyone else, go for it!

If you have dreams to be in the entertainment industry, you should know it’s extremely hard to succeed if you’re not committed, disciplined, educated and prepared because you only get a couple of breaks and when you do you better deliver no matter what. It’s an exciting time in the industry and there are a lot of very talented Latinas on both TV and film and a lot of these women are producing and providing new opportunities for others.”

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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