To watch one episode of CW’s breakout hit Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is to get hooked. It’s not only the Golden Globe-winning performance by actress/co-creator Rachel Bloom, it’s the entire multicultural, talented cast.
The basic (not so basic) premise of the comedy is: Rebecca (played by Bloom) leaves a high-powered law firm in New York City for a medicore firm in West Covina, CA to try to rekindle her relationship with her high school ex-boyfriend, Josh (played by Vincet Rodriguez III). Hilarity and dance numbers ensue. As Josh's current girlfriend, Valencia, Broadway vet Gabrielle Ruiz is the girl you love to hate — aka Rebecca's nemesis with Shakira-like dance moves and daggers for eyes.
The Texas native gave us the scoop on one of the most unique comedies on network TV. Read it all in our exclusive interview below:
What can we expect from your character, Valencia, for the rest of the season?
Well, as we know, Valencia’s story is: she trusted Rebecca and she was pretty hurt by finding out the truth, What I love most about her is that ever since then, she calls Rebecca out on her truth. So there is more of that coming out, where she is trying not to trust Rebecca, although much less with Josh. She tries to keep it that way and she is making it very clear of her opinion of Rebecca. There is a moment in one of the next episodes where I say, “I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you because you eat bagels after 9pm.”
How has it been working with co-creators, Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna?
When it comes to primetime television, this is my biggest stretch of experience and my longest experience. Working with Rachel Boom and Aline Brosh McKenna has been a privilege to really learn from, when it comes to television. My mentors are top-notch and their willingness to make me free up in what I do best as well, and what I’ve done more of, which is musical talent, improvisation and not spiting into the stereotypical Latina role. They [the creators] are encouraging us to not just do that. Do we prey, make fun of and poke at things that are stereotypical? Probably [laughs] but that is not all Valencia is about. It has been really fun to discover her as a woman in Rebecca’s centered life.
The show is has an exceptional multicultural cast. They even have an Asian man as the lead love interest, which has probably never happened on network TV.
Having a multicultural cast, who is a very diverse cast of talent, has been very stimulating and exciting to work with. Again, Rachel and Aline are the trailblazers of developing these characters and what makes them tick. We’re able to discover these characters through that and then slash on to the reasons why they’re ethnic or why they’re not and spin those angles upside down to what you have never seen before. Valencia, the yoga instructor, is intimidating but she is all about chakras and vegan food. She is not all about being addressed as a Latina and those jokes are just happening. Everyone is very game for creating these characters that way, but it’s very positive and fun to see what they come up with whenever we do a table read and how it develops into shooting it. For my character, there is this one tiny, little joke that I caught and I am not sure if other people did on the last episode, “Textmergency,” when Rebecca accidentally sent the wrong text message to Josh, so the whole episode she is trying to delete the text message to Josh. Rebecca breaks into Valencia and Josh’s house, and she is trying to break into his phone and she is guessing out loud what his code is to his smartphone. “Okay, 1235, no…1234…okay what is Valencia’s birthday…5588.” And that is Cinco de Mayo. Those kind of elusive, if you don’t catch it, or if you’re a fan and watch it for the 10th time and that’s when you will get it, that’s what I am enjoying when it comes to jokes regarding diversity.
You have an extensive Broadway background. Are you going through a little FOMO with all the great shows involving Latinos currently running?
It’s the first time I am not working long-term in New York, in my career. I went to New York for my career and that’s where my career has been built off, but moving over here in the land of Los Angeles has been exciting. I don’t know if you know this, actually but Lin-Manuel Miranda referred me to this show and they reached out to a few people in New York. We have this really great role, and we’re trying to cast a Latina to do Valencia and I was on his list of names. Seeing where we are now, the moment when he told me backstage that he was doing this new patriotic Hamilton musical, he was writing it five years ago, and I was like, “What is that?” I feel as though I am able to represent Latinas in the entertainment business over here as well.
Broadway right now is what film and TV should be — multicultural casts kicking ass.
To add on to what you’re saying though, shows that are happening on Broadway [which is the root of my career], like Hamilton, On your Feet and what Lupita is doing, it just proves that it’s not just success but long-term success in that entertainment industry specifically. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is wrapping and there are opportunities for all of us to switch places and rotate what we’re doing. I look forward to visiting all of my friends in On your Feet because we all did In the Heights together, as well as a lot of people In the Heights are doing Hamilton.
Outside of Ex-Girlfriend, what’s next on your plate?
There are some irons in the fire for sure, but nothing can be announced at the moment but on a personal level, I am getting married this year. He’s been very involved and we’re excited and we’re doing something really small in the Caribbean. I also love teaching master classes and giving back to the next generation of Latinos that want to do the arts. Si se puede and not only when it comes to the arts industry but just to inspire them. I’ve done many, many projects with my hometown’s housing authorities, and the expansion within the valley of South Texas and that is something that I am equally passionate about.