In Her Prime: Actress Alex Meneses On Conquering Self-Doubt
Before her divorce was finalized, Alex Meneses' ex-husband had some parting words for her.
He told me, "You're 50 years old, you have a kid, no one is going to date you and no one is going to hire you. I thought to myself, maybe he's right? Maybe there is nothing more for me. It was a moment that hit me hard."
Actress and producer Alex Meneses began her TV career playing Teresa Morales in "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" and Stefania Fogagnolo, Brad Garrett’s luscious Italian girlfriend on "Everybody Loves Raymond". She retired from acting after getting married and subsequently becoming a mother to her daughter, Stella (now 5). But a tough divorce offered her a new chapter in life and she decided to get back in the game. Three months after those soul-crushing words from her ex, Meneses landed a series regular role on NBC's "Telenovela" alongside longtime friend Eva Longoria.
Not only is Meneses back in the game, but she's hotter than ever and in the prime of her life and career. MBG spoke with the ALMA and Imagen Award nominated actress, whose beauty and kindness were evident.
You thought your ex-husband was right when he told you that no one would want to date or hire you again. How did you overcome those thoughts of negativity?
I will always find strength through my family and also knowing that there's more to my life than Hollywood. My daughter, Stella, forces me to go beyond myself. I have no choice, I have to be present for her. I can't let negativity hinder me. If I don't feel good, I still have to show up. It would be easy for me to drink and party and bury my feelings, but I can't because Stella is up at 6:00 am every day and she's ready to go! I work my life around her when I can.
Your first job after stepping out of retirement was "Telenovela" as the over-the-top diva Isabela Santamaria. Tell us about that experience.
It was wonderful! All the stars were aligned and I got "Telenovela" right off the bat. I love Eva [Longoria] desperately. People will notice her beauty first, but what most people don't know is that she is a savvy businesswoman and very generous. A lot of business people are really protective about what they'll give, but Eva is extremely selfless. She will do anything to make a project work. She puts her ego aside for the good of the project. Everyone on set got along really well and we all love each other. Even though the show got canceled, we still support each other and communicate often.
You're now recurring on the CW's "Jane The Virgin" as Katherine Cortez. How are Katherine and Isabela similar?
They're both older women who desperately want to hold on to what they have. You know, they were losing their "umph". However, Katherine is a bit more intact as a person than Isabella and has better social skills! She does fall in love with Raphael, who's using her to get the hotel back, so there is a betrayal there, but they are both strong women. I can understand that. I can relate to that, but not as extreme. I have a strong family, a big crew. I have a great life! I really love my life.
You've got amazing comedy timing. You really shine in comedy roles. I was surprised to learn that you studied at the famed Second City in Chicago.
Yes! I grew up on Chicago's southwest side and I took 2 buses to get to class at Second City. I was really determined when I was younger. I had a great time there and I learned a lot. I've spent a lot of my career playing leading ladies or ingénues, but I also love playing character parts. I actually find them more interesting, creating a backstory that gives the character depth.
You look amazing and sound really happy. How do you stay mentally and physically strong?
Well, I'm a runner and that helps me get all my frustration out and it helps with endorphins and all that. I also try to keep as healthy as possible. I try not to eat too much sugar and I'm just not a big partier or drinker. You know, everything in moderation. I knew girls from college and when I was younger who partied hard and drank in excess. Seeing them now, they just look tired and haggard. Living a clean life is important, for your health and mind.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I'm in talks to work on a film set in Mexico, but it's still early and nothing has been decided upon yet. I'll let you know! My character in "Jane The Virgin" may return (from jail), so we'll see. I'm auditioning, working on my other projects (Alex serves on the Boards for United Hope for Animals and The Chicago Symphony and is a member of The Chicago Historical Society) and I'm in full mommy mode. I'm just having a great time and enjoying life!
Keep up with Alex on Instagram & stream "Telenovela" through On Demand, and catch "Jane The Virgin" Fridays on the CW.
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Images Courtesy of: Richard Reinsdorf (feature) & David Lust PR