Latina Strong: Get To Know Actress Allison Strong of Netflix's "The Week Of"
As a child, Allison Strong was so shy that her concerned mother enrolled her in musical theater classes to boost her confidence. Little did she know that her daughter was overflowing with talent. Strong became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s chorus, appeared in Broadway shows, released an album, and is now starring in her first feature film alongside comedic heavyweights Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Rachel Dratch.
In her debut film, "The Week Of" Strong plays opposite Adam Sandler as his altar-bound daughter. The Netflix film takes place the week leading up to the wedding of Strong's character and Chris Rock’s character’s son. The movie is directed by veteran “Saturday Night Live” writer and producer Robert Smigel and was co-written by Smigel and Sandler. MBG talked with Strong about her experiences on set, lessons she's learned along the way, and the importance of Latino diversity in Hollywood.
What was it like working on your first feature film with Adam Sandler?
Adam keeps a very happy set. His family is there along with the other producer's family. There are ice cream trucks and amazing food. I was incredibly spoiled. Adam and his team had to cast two families that were coming together, so there were a lot of New York actors from the improv and comedy scene. We all just couldn't believe how lucky we were to be on a Happy Madison production. The film is so funny and heartfelt and I had such a memorable time on set.
What did you learn about yourself, if anything, during filming?
I learned to stop being so precious with my acting. By that I mean perfectionism. We have to let go of that, especially as young women and Latinas. I feel that we [Latinas] have to work twice as hard to get half as far. I learned to do the work, but then to let myself go and open up. At the end of the day, you can't be so precious. Also, I've played a lot of comedic roles in my career, but being surrounded by so many talented comedians, I was definitely the "straight man." Everyone was encouraged to say things that weren't in the script and I was constantly surprised by new lines and trying my best not to laugh. Also, what I thought was wonderful was that if Adam ever dropped a line, he would just stop for a second and just continue. You would never know that there was a line break. He wouldn't break a scene just because he felt he made a mistake. I learned a lot from him.
It's so wonderful that a Latina was cast as Adam Sandler's daughter! Tell me your thoughts on that.
For me, I've always been told that I'm ambiguous. My parents were immigrants from Colombia, my grandmother was part native American, and my great-grandmother was Afro-native Colombian. And of course, I have a lot of European blood in my family. I know that I'm not stereotypical of what a Latina is supposed to look like, according to the media. I feel like there is not enough representation for the European looking Latinos or the Afro-Latinos. We're not all the same color or have the same hair texture or possess the same attributes.
Do you feel like there is enough representation overall?
There needs to be an acknowledgment that there are different types of Latinos in the U.S. -- not everyone is an immigrant crossing the border or the sexy Latina that dances on tables or the maid. Yes, that does exist. And there is nothing wrong with it, however, it's not the complete narrative. It wasn't until I saw "Jane the Virgin" and Gina Rodriguez that I saw a Latina that was close to what I grew up with. The reality is that so many Latinos in the U.S. now second or third generation. We have to realize that not everyone just immigrated here and not everyone speaks Spanish. I personally do [speak Spanish] and I'm blessed. Latinos also come from a wide variety of backgrounds. We possess every bloodline within us, the native blood, the slave blood, the conquistador blood. That's the beauty of being Latino!
Watch Allison Strong in Netflix's "The Week Of" streaming now.
Images Courtesy of: Jill Fritzo Public Relations