EXCLUSIVE: Heather Hemmens: "I Have This Skin Tone That's Kind of Unidentifiable But It's Great"

Scene-stealer Heather Hemmens stars as Alice Verdura, a Latina cheerleader, on the CW’s hit series, Hellcats. But despite the fact that her character is a favorite among the show’s fans — not even Heather knows what kind of Latina Alice is. “They haven’t said [what nationality she is] — we’ve met her father and stuff, so hopefully we’ll get more into her background," explains Hemmens, whose own mother is Costa Rican.

So, does Hemmens have thoughts on what nationality her character should be? “I would love it if she was Costa Rican, too!” she says proudly. “It’s my culture and my heritage and I think my family is so beautiful."

Hemmens added that she's open to playing any kind of Latina. "But if they wanted to make her from Colombia or something, that’d be nice too—or Spain,” she said.“Maybe Mexican," she adds, "because she’s so fiery! I’m trying to think, out of all the fiery Latinas which one has the most fire? Mexican, for sure!”

Something else producers haven’t told Hemmens is whether her Latina character knows Spanish. “I’ve been curious to know if she’s bilingual or not," Hemmens says. "They haven’t incorporated that yet." And although Hemmens says she wants her character to speak español, she admits that she isn’t completely fluent in the language herself. “I do speak it because I took it in school for a couple of years," she says, “but it’s very broken” {Laughs}. She adds: “Usually if it’s scripted I’m a lot better. But I could definitely use some work on  that — I think I need to go to Costa Rica two or three more times and just immerse myself.”

When we told Hemmens that Selena Gomez learned the mother tongue by using Rosetta Stone, she seemed to like the idea. “That’s totally what I need to do!” she says. “Because I see it as kind of like being a black belt — it’s the difference between being one and saying you’re one." 

Growing up, Hemmens tried learning Spanish but it was difficult. “When my mom was raising us, she was learning English,” she explains, “so it wasn’t really a priority for her to teach us Spanish.”

Still, even though she doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, Hemmens says she feels so proud to be Latina. “Being Latina really describes so many things about me — I’m passionate, I’m emotional, I’m brave, I’m outspoken, and I’m kind of sassy. I think that’s all the wonderful things that come along with being a Latina woman," she says.

It’s a pride she feels even though she says people are often surprised to learn about her Latin background.  

“[People don't immediately think of me as Latina] because of my name, and also because my mother is a black Costa Rican, so I have this skin tone that's kind of unidentifiable,” explains Hemmens. “But it’s great because as an actress, it gives me a versatility to play a black woman or play a Latina woman. I've even played Egyptian and Indian American. With the right hair and makeup, I've actually got a pretty good road going here where I can play a lot of things,” she says.