We recently chatted with Lily Santiago who plays Veronica Castillo in NBC’s La Brea. The drama television series premiered on September 28, 2021, and has been officially picked up for a second season. “A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a desperate group of strangers.” We ask Lily about her character, filming the series, her acting career, and lots more. Check it out below!
When did you decide that storytelling and acting was something you wanted to do?
LS: I grew up watching my incredible father make a life as an actor/ director/ writer, and so I always just thought of it as “Dad’s job” and not something I could do. Then, during the extensive NYC high school application process, I decided to apply and audition for Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, thinking that it would be very fun to spend half of my educational day in drama classes. And I was right. I found my passion for performing at that school, and after my freshman year, I was absolutely sure that I wanted to pursue a career in acting and storytelling.
What’s it like being part of a show like La Brea?
LS: La Brea is a truly wild ride. Every character is always going THROUGH it, the drama never ends. So in between takes we had to find levity, which was easy to do because the La Brea team is the most fun. Many of us were far from home and we were filming in some difficult conditions (Covid, winter-time rain, etc), which I think united us and created an environment of support. Every member of the cast and crew is an absolute pleasure to work with and every day was full of laughter and dancing and hugs and slipping through the mud.
What can you tell us about your character?
LS: I love Veronica. She is so complex and there’s always ten layers of emotion, confliction, secrets and trauma bubbling within her. She is a survivor, she is a protector. It is very difficult to earn her trust. She has so much pain in her past, and it’s been a wonderful challenge trying to incorporate all of her problematic history into each moment, while figuring out who she has the potential to be, how she can try to get past it all and shift her own life and gain some positive control.
What was the reaction like from your family and friends when it was announced that the show was picked up for season 2?
LS: Everyone is so excited, getting to do two seasons of this show is such an incredible opportunity. My parents were hooting and hollering! Dad said he’s gonna retire (never gonna happen), then it was a lot of “oh I miss you already!” And my twin brother Trey was in disbelief, he’s very proud. My family are my greatest cheerleaders.
What advice would you give to people pursuing acting?
LS: I would advise people to keep their minds and hearts open and give it their all. Always. Our job can be immensely fun, but it’s exhausting hard work, and so many aspects of this business can get you down. We have to remind ourselves why we’re doing this in the first place. And when you’re dedicated and embracing the newness of each moment, you’re able to remain grounded in who you are and hopefully know that you’re doing your best.
What was your first acting role?
LS: I was first in my father’s autobiographical film Lackawanna Blues very briefly at the age of 7. However, I don’t think I processed my time there as acting… so I’d consider my first acting role to be Gaston in a production of Beauty and the Beast at a summer day camp I attended in middle school. I felt like such a stud.
What do you enjoy the most about acting?
LS: I am afraid of vulnerability which is crazy because acting calls for me to be vulnerable in every moment of performance and in many moments of my personal life. What I enjoy most about acting is the opportunity to relate to another person’s story and make it my own, find the connection to myself. Whether it’s a familiar feeling, person, or experience, I love the vulnerability and connection required. And that it can unite humans all over the world.
Follow Lily Santiago: Instagram
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