The Cuban American actress speaks about her roles in the horror spoof, A Haunted House and TNT’s hit show, Dallas.
Tell us about your character in A Haunted House.
Rosa’s crazy. She’s been taking care of Malcolm (Marlon Wayans’ character) for a long time but I think she loves him for the wrong reasons. In my career I’ve played a lot of moms and a lot of housekeepers but never quite have I played someone like Rosa. This Rosa is purely from the mind of Marlon.
Is it your first time doing a spoof comedy?
It’s my first time working on a spoof comedy but it’s not my first time working with the Wayans. I worked with Damon years ago when I first started my acting career on his show, My Wife and Kids. It’s funny I also played the housekeeper named Rosa (laughs).
What can you tell us about your character, Carmen Ramos, on the new season of Dallas?
I have a son who’s coming back from the war. He’s portrayed by Kuno Becker. There are some interesting twists that are happening with the Ewing legacy—you’ll see.
How was it working with the late Larry Hagman?
On the first season I got to work with him two or three times and I cannot tell you the light that shined through his eyes, even going through chemo. He was so happy to be working. He was such a professional.
You portray a housekeeper on Dallas. How is this role different from your past housekeeper roles?
This person that Cynthia has created is the person who runs the household for these very rich people. And that’s a very big difference. They feed you; they clean your clothes, and watch over your kids. So that person has to be trusted. Carmen is trusted. She doesn’t have any pelos en la lengua. I’m playing my mother. My mother has helped me make a lot of money in my career. I think because it’s written by a Latina she understands the details of that character. Even if it just a look or a small scene you know it’s Carmen who runs this house. There’s no servitude to Carmen. She’s not a servant. She’s the CEO of that house.
Dallas has a bunch of Latino actors.
There’s a lot of Latinos on Dallas. I make a joke saying it’s the hottest Latino show on television. We are woven into the fabric into the show just like the fabric of this country. We marry white people, black people, and Chinese people. We are lawyers, doctors, and yes the person who parks your car. We’re in Congress, in the Supreme Court now. There is this beautiful symphony of Latinos on my show that it’s just a matter of fact and it’s not an issue. That’s the breath of fresh air on this show.
What’s your advice to young actors?
My biggest advice is that this is not a horse race. I waited tables, I ran a video store, I’ve taught, I’ve sold things—all of which is tools for my tool chest. Young actors get impatient. Every single moment that you have is a chance to experience something to put in your work. That’s all we have. You need to experience something to be able to access it later on in your work.
Watch Marlene Forte in A Haunted House, in theaters now, and on the season premiere of Dallas on Jan. 28 on TNT.