'How to Get Away With Murder' Star Amirah Vann Feels Blessed to Work on a Series That Honors Her Afro-Latinidad

Photo Credit: ABC/Mitch Haaseth

Amirah Vann is a tough nut to crack when discussing upcoming plot points on How to Get Away With Murder, but she does have a whole lot to say about working with a showrunner and production company that values her Afro-Latinidad.

And we should be applauding those who are doing things right in Hollywood. Like Peter Nowalk, who opened his door to Vann to discuss her character Tegan Price on the ABC hit series, airing Thursday nights at 10pm.

"Before we started, Pete said he had these general meetings so we could come in and chat," Vann told Latina.com. "Considering that I was pretty new to the team, it was great that he was so open to discussing the character and my personal background. He didn’t know a lot about me so I explained to him what it means to be Afro-Latina.

I told him that my mom was born in Puerto Rico and my dad is African-American; as well as why representation is so important. This is someone who is very compassionate in storytelling. He’s covered so many things on the show that are important and relevant to today’s times. But with this, he didn’t have the experience.

So when I was explaining colorism and the importance in seeing people of all shades, he was like, ‘Wow.’ He didn’t know how big of a thing it was. He was aware of it but he didn’t realize it on the level that you live it and breathe it. It was so important for us to have that conversation. He was very receptive and told me that they were going to continue to write for the character and that I could come to him if I ever wanted to add anything."

Taking full advantage of his offer, Tegan was really able to come to life in season five. Not only did we learn that the tough-as-nails attorney loves to dance, but also that she can be sassy in two languages.

"I told Pete how much I love going salsa dancing and that I've been doing it since I was a kid," she explained. "I didn’t know what he was going to do with it and then he wrote that scene where I invite Annalise [Viola Davis] to go dancing and I screamed when I read it. I was hoping to get her on the dance floor but even though that didn't happen, I was so happy that was written into the story. 

There's also the time when I said, 'No me digas" during a scene that was added to the script because I spoke up while on set. They loved it and told me to throw it in. Things like that are just in us and that’s with any language. We have all those things that make what we say so rich and so beautiful. That was just so specific to us.

I’m so grateful to be a part of a show that really embraces that. Shondaland really wants authenticity."

While Vann feels fortunate to work on a show that embraces cultural differences, she knows this isn't the case in the industy as a whole just yet. She hopes that other shows follow the example set by How to Get Away With Murder, a series that not only has true diversity but also puts women in powerful positions.

“Representation is so important," she said emphatically. "One of my favorite scenes from last season had me, Viola, Aja Naomi King, and Luna Lauren Velez working together.

When we were all in the room together, we could all feel the greatness of the moment. We are all on one show and we’re not pitted against each other--- instead we’re supporting each othe. This what I want to see of more of in the world. It’s so important that this generation and the next see women lifting each other up. We’re all on the same side, there’s room for all of us at the table. Let’s embrace our differences more.

Between “Action” and “Take” I look around and can’t believe I’m working with these women. Aja is my peer and I’ve come up with her in the industry and I’m just so proud of who she is as an artist. Viola is truly the best in my eyes. And then Ms. Velez, who I know from NY Undercover--- we sang songs from In The Heights together during breaks!

Sometimes I wonder, ‘What is my life right now?’ It’s all been such a blessing."

This interview was edited and condensced for length and clarity.