Parents and mentors of teens and tweens: this is an interview you don’t want to miss. Vivian Lamolli, the singing and dancing star of Hulu’s East Los High, has pushed through all the uncertainties of youth and arrived on the other side, confident and ready to empower the next generation behind her. This National Spanish History month, the vivacious Latina starlet shares what she’s learned about the struggles of youth, both through her own coming-of-age and through her return to high school life in East Los High. For this former Gator, the solution to teenage angst is simple, but still in high demand: “support, support, support!”
How did you get started in acting?
Ever since I was little I’ve always been a performer. Singing, dancing acting – I fell into all of it at a really young age. I was always putting on little shows for my family and their friends. It’s weird though, because then I went to high school and suddenly decided I wanted to be a lawyer! So going into college I kind of followed that path, but then I realized where my heart and dreams were. At the end of the day I switched majors and continued on that track. That’s when I started consistently studying at the conservatory at the University of Florida.
Not every performer goes to college before pursuing their Hollywood dreams. What do you think has your degree done for you?
I’ve actually been reflecting on that a lot recently. I find that you go back to those studies often when you’re working on projects. I learned a lot while I studied at UF. They’re were certain professors who changed the way I view performing arts and the way I view acting. Because with acting, you’re basically just breathing life into another character, another human being. So I think it made a huge impact on my life to have that time to really study and hone my skill – time to take dance classes and just know that I had it all right and tight!
Tell me about East Los High.
We’re now filming the 3rd season and I’m super excited to be jumping right into it. I go to East Los High, and it’s awesome! I love all of my cast mates. We’re all really able to step into a high schooler’s shoes and go through all the things that high schoolers deal with every day. Tough things: like bullying, going through difficult studies, having issues with our sexuality and our age and what’s appropriate and just how you feel.
It’s all about just finding out who you are, and I think that’s the most important thing for youth – empowering them and letting them know that we’re always willing to let them be who they are in high school.
What’s it like working on an all Latino cast?
Having an all Latino cast makes it pretty feisty on the set, I’m not going to lie! All of us have those big personalities! It’s an awesome thing though because we’re all speaking English and people can really relate to us and what we go through.
That’s had such a huge impact on my life, because I am Puerto Rican, and Cuban and Italian. It’s so beautiful to be able to play my own nationality on camera. I feel really proud of my background – who I am and where I come from. It just lifts you that much more in confidence letting
everyone know, I am Latina, and I am a strong woman!
Tell me about your move from Florida to Los Angeles. What’s that been like?
I grew up in Miami. I was actually bornon Coconut Grove, and my mom loves telling that story. Her water broke around the ritziest area and she’s always like, “You were born in the nice area!” It’s cool because I feel like I’ve always had that taste of Florida, even when we moved around (and we’re a military family so that happened quite a bit). I lived in central Florida for a lot of my life. Now that I’m in LA, I still really exude being a Floridian! Everyone’s always like “you’re definitely not from here!” And it’s really nice to have that East Coast vibe.
How do you see yourself influencing young women and young Latinos, both through your social media presence and your role on the show?
I think just being able to let everyone know who I am and where I come from is the biggest part of it all. Because once they found that out, they’re more comfortable being themselves as well – to embrace their nationality and their culture. I think that it gives them an even stronger voice in the Latino community – to let them know that we do have a presence in the media industry and it’s only getting bigger, only getting better! Right now, it’s wonderful to be able to put out that Cuba is having better relations with the U.S. and that politically, it’s okay to let everyone know I’m proud to be Latina!
I have always looked up to J-Lo. She’s Puerto Rican as well, and she’s been able to be a successful business woman, and been so successful in building her craft. I hope the young girls will look up to me in just the same way!
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the acting industry and how have you overcome them?
There are always going to be ups and downs; it’s a huge roller coaster ride. The challenge for me is to know that when you’re on those lows, that’s when you learn the biggest lessons. Those challenges you face on your lows only lift you up higher when you get to those highs. And then you’re able to differentiate: okay, I’m at my high, and okay, I’m in a low. You struggle, but you work harder to do better. So I think it would just be knowing that when I am at a low point, it’s ok!
Having performed as a teenager for some time now, what advice would you give the parents of high school teens?
I would just say be patient. I feel like as a high school student, there are so many influences, so many things in our lives that are shaping us into the people we’re going to be. So I would say patience is a virtue because we’re chameleons: we’re going to transform and wear different things and do different things and experiment, but that doesn’t say that’s who they’re going to be at the end of the day. To parents, I’d just remind them not to lose the faith. And support, support, support! Whatever it is, whatever dream it is that your daughter or your son has.
What are some of your goals for the future?
I love, love, love where I’m at right now, but getting to that silver screen is a huge goal of mine. I know I can see it now and it’s getting nearer and nearer, so definitely transitioning into a successful film career is where my head is now