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Emily Rios Talks About Quinceanera


Emily Rios Talks About Quinceanera

Emily Rios as Magdalena in Quinceanera.

© Sony Pictures Classics

Emily Rios was just shopping at a mall when a talent scout approached her about acting/modeling. From there she landed a manager, took a few classes to prepare for auditions, and impressed an agent with a monologue she delivered during the course.

In what might be this year’s best Cinderella story, newcomer Rios was then cast as the lead in Quinceanera, a movie that’s getting a lot of positive buzz. The acclaim she’s receiving for her performance means her back-up plan to play professional basketball may have to be put off for a while.

Developing Her Acting Skills: “It took me a year to get comfortable in front of a camera,” confessed Rios. “It took me a good year to finally not be nervous or shy and portray that shyness on camera. It took me a while to get comfortable in front of it. As far as acting, I don't know how long that took.”

Rios says she honed her skills during the audition process. “The audition process, you always have to be in front of a camera. Even in the audition process, I would be so shy just going out there for commercials or print work. I’d get a little shy or nervous taking a picture or something. After doing it for about a year and auditioning and stuff, I was a little bit more comfortable and at ease just stating my name or taking pictures and what not.”

Emily Rios on the Reaction to Her Performance in Quinceanera: “It’s overwhelming just because it happened so fast and the buzz is going around. We started off as this little indie film that nobody really wanted to be a part of. Now the buzz is going around everywhere. I’m extremely excited. I’m glad it’s getting the attention it deserves, or I hoped it deserved, and I hoped it would get because we finally have a Latin-based cast in a film. It’s something we rarely see in cinema today, so it’s an honor to be a part of it, obviously. I just hope it gets elevated from here.”

Her Personality Versus Her Character Magdalena’s: “It’s pretty much dead-on in a lot of different ways and a lot of different levels. I could relate to her in the religious thing. I grew up very religious. I know how strict that could be and what a big social responsibility it is to present yourself a certain way since you’re claiming to be a certain way. I’m first generation here so I know about the comparisons when you try to compare yourself to the upper class, when you know you’re only middle class. You kind of take the materialistic route and you want the materialistic things even though you can’t afford it. I know my parents are very traditional so I know how that can be.

She seemed like a very independent, mature character and on the exterior she would portray a lot of toughness and maturity and independence. She has a lot of pride and she wouldn’t swallow it and show that anybody has any control or power over her. That’s how I feel I am sometimes. But when it comes to me and private times, which I think Magdalena was a very private, reserved type of girl which I am as well, the emotions that eventually let loose in her own personal time. There’s a lot of different levels that we could go into.”

Rios continued, “I think those are the qualities when I read the script, I thought the characters was me on a lot of different levels. That’s what I had read and that’s what I was going to try and portray. If the directors had wanted otherwise, I would have been more than happy to give it to them. But it looks like that’s what they wanted.”

Did Starring in Quinceanera Make Her Wish She Had One?: “Initially, yes. Initially, prior to shooting the film, I had [gone] to two of my friends’ Quinceaneras and then I kind of wanted one. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this whole day revolves around her and blah blah blah.’ After shooting the film, it was kind of like I did have my own one, so there wasn’t too much that I missed out on.”

Up Next – Vicious Circle with Paul Rodriguez Jr.: Rios describes her character in her next film as very intense. “She’s pretty cool. She’s a lead singer of a rock band and she’s epileptic and a drug user, so she’s completely different from Magdalena.”

Rios will have to sharpen her vocal skills for the part but admits she hasn’t begun working on that yet. “I told the director, ‘Trust me, I cannot sing worth a lick. That little bit in Quinceanera, I’m not even singing it because I wouldn’t sing it.’ He really wants to use my voice so we’re going to go into a studio. If it doesn’t work out, then we’ll do voiceovers, but he really wants to use me own voice. We’ll see how that goes.”

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