For three seasons, Apple TV Plus’ For All Mankind has tackled the question: What if the global space race never ended? Among the ensemble cast is Coral Peña’s NASA engineer Aleida Rosales. Ahead of the show’s season 3 finish, LA Confidential caught up with Peña about the finale, Aleida’s future and her first Comic-Con experience.
What can fans look forward to from the season finale of For All Mankind?
Structurally, the show is simultaneously a puzzle box and a powerful character study. The writers and producers craft each moment so carefully across the season before paying each of them off in surprising ways. Their ability to do this is, in my opinion, pretty unique in the entire medium at the moment. Every character matters, every thread counts. And that relies on a lot of faith from the viewer, but they repay that faith every time. That’s more true than ever with this one. I think this finale is going to sit with people for a while. It’s pretty incredible.
Also it includes the best, and my favorite, performance by an actor that I’ve seen on television in years. Maybe ever.
Have you learned anything about space that particularly surprised you during your time on For All Mankind?
There are some great space facts that we’re able to learn about from our creatives and the advisors that word on the show—like Denise Okuda, Michael Okuda, and Garrett Reisman. But I feel on the whole, the greatest thing I’ve come to appreciate is how the vast unknown of space can both entrance and ensnare people. Space is, quite literally, the void. It calls some, it terrifies some.
For All Mankind Season 3 Episode 10
What excited you most about Aleida’s journey during season 3?
I think of the first three seasons of For All Mankind as the prequel to Aleida’s real story. And we’re reaching the final chapter of that. This season will have lasting effects on her, but I think the glimpses of love and happiness we get to see this year are what I’m most excited about moving forward.
As a person or actor, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from playing Aleida?
People don’t have as much empathy for—or extend as much sympathy to—Aleida as they would if she were not a woman of color. But I know she’s deserving of it, so I continue to play her, flaws and all, and I don’t worry about how those flaws might be weaponized by certain people. Taking ownership of that and forgetting the rest isn’t just empowering; it’s essential.
In July, you attend your first Comic-Con. What was it like to see the fan impact of For All Mankind in person?
I remember speaking to Jodi and Krys before Comic-Con, and we expected—and were preparing—to burst into tears after each day from the anxiety and exhaustion of it all. But by the end of each day, we were just so happy and energized; we had no idea how many people watched and enjoyed the show.
It can be difficult to grasp the impact of the work you’re doing. That’s basically the core nature of acting— that it’s all pretty elusive. And that was multiplied for us given how much of the show has been filmed and released during the pandemic. So finally meeting the fans in person was one of the first times I could share their joy. It was a great experience and I hope we return next year.
You’ve said that you hope to do something different with every part you play. Is there a particular kind of role or genre you want to tackle next?
I like to keep myself open to all possibilities, but I’ve recently been watching a lot of Michael Mann films, and it would be so cool to do a classic cops and robbers movie. And of course I’d want to be a robber. On the other end of the spectrum, I like the idea of bringing humor to whatever I do next. I miss being a clown—I’m always so damn serious! I want to make a fool of myself and make people laugh again.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Courtesy Apple TV Plus