Lela Loren is best known for playing Angela Valdes, an intelligent and ambitious federal prosecutor, who is also the love interest to Omari Hardwick‘s character "Ghost," in the Starz hit show Power. Fans are left on the edge of their seats after last season’s cliffhanger, especially Loren, who's character's fate hangs in the balance. With its final season premiering tonight, Loren chatted with us about what to expect from the finale, how she first landed her role as Angela Valdes and what she makes of the spinoff series featuring Mary J. Blige.
Fans of the show are left questioning whether or not your character is still alive at the end of last season. What can we expect from your character and this final season which airs on tomorrow (August 25) on Starz?
LELA LOREN: Power picks up right where the action stops so you get to see what happens after the cliffhanger from last season. What you can expect to see from Power this year is that the bullet was meant for Ghost and Angela pushed him out of the way. So that sets up a whole chain reaction between Ghost and Tommy and we get to see the repercussions of all of that. There was one other time where Tommy tries to shoot Ghost but he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. This time around he did. Now fate had another agenda where it didn’t end up hitting Ghost. It ended up hitting Angela and I think Tommy was not mad at that either. But we get to see the consequences of all of that.
Take me back to the moment when you found out that you were picked to play Angela on the show. What was running through your mind?
LL: It was just tremendous excitement and realizing that this was a new level in my career and that maybe I will have a chance at having my career. There was a lot of fear on whether or not I was cut out for it and as an actor. You hear a lot of “No, you don’t get the part,” so to hear a “Yes” was so overwhelmingly fantastic. Also, I had less than a week to move to New York and I’d always wanted to come and move to New York. It was part of the dream so to have all of that happen, words really couldn’t express it. It was such a wonderful combination of excitement, fear, joy and panic. Like a weird blend of confidence and doubt at the same time. It was a lot of mixed emotions.
We just got word that there’s going to be a Power spinoff that will star Mary J. Blige. Have you been approached to be a part of that show?
LL: You’ll have to wait and see...
What does it mean for you to represent Latina women in the industry and the hispanic community?
LL: I am incredibly proud of my culture and the duality of me. My mother is Mexican and my father is American. I have grown up going between both worlds. In terms of the Latin culture, I think it is important that we expand the story of who it includes because the latin diaspora is vast and it takes many shapes and forms and looks different on everybody. Sometimes in terms of storytelling, there tends to be sort of specific characters or plotlines that leaves many of us out. I play Angela Valdes who is Puerto Rican and I am Mexican and they were great at not asking me to translate things in Spanish because Mexican-Spanish is different from Puerto Rican-Spanish, so we would have a translator. The fact that she was Puerto Rican was also incidental in that it was part of the color. So to get to be a woman who happens to be hispanic but gets to have the full range of emotions, choice, intelligence and ambition, and not be constricted to other people’s ideas of what that means was really liberating and important. I think that one of the wonderful things about the United States is that you get to have duality. For example, you get to be Mexican and American, you get to be Asian and American, you get to be black and American, there are two things happening at the same time. In our industry, more still needs to happen but we are starting to get storytelling that kind of isn’t in a box. It is sort of outside and I get to play a character that gets the full range of the human experience regardless of what my ethnicity is.
You’ve risen to fame and made a name for yourself in the business. Did you face any struggles while getting to this point?
LL: Yes, I struggled for about 10 years before I got the part of Angela Valdes. I think there are a lot of paths that are very insecure when it’s the startup route path. For a long time, all you hear is “No” and you have to pay your bills by doing other jobs like waiting tables. There are no guarantees or security. In some ways you have to surrender to the fact that it might never work out, but you’re doing it because you love it and in my case, it luckily did happen.
What advice do you have for young women who are pursuing a career in acting?
LL: My advice would be to take care of your creativity and not to expect that your creativity will take care of you. For a long time, when I put my acting in the crosshairs of having to pay my bills and pay the gas in my car, it would have never worked out. Instead, I understood that as long as I was able to pay my bills, whether it be through being a waitress or bartender or whatever side job that I had, then I could do this thing that I love. On a practical level, I would say to keep your overhead as low as possible. Like all of my friends that had a nice car that they had to make car payments for never clicked over because they couldn’t afford headshots or acting classes. I would ask yourself why you’re in it. If you’re in that career path for fame, status and money then you might not be in it for the right reasons. But if you’re in it for the process, for discovering all of the different passages of the human condition, then continue on if you genuinely love it for those reasons. Never stop studying. I still study so it is a craft that you continue to constantly learn from. Excellence takes many years. I am still not there; I am closing the gap but there are still areas that I need to grow and mature as an actor.
What’s next for you and is there anyone that you hope to work with in the future?
LL: There’s a lot of exciting things on the horizon. There’s so many people that I would love to work with. In our industry, there are so many hugely talented people that would be a dream to work with. You just keep your fingers crossed that you get the honor of doing it some day.
When you’re in LA, where you do you like to wine and dine?
LL: I really like the Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga, California. That’s my aunt’s restaurant from my father’s side of my family. It is absolutely one of the most romantic spots in Los Angeles. It is iconic and fantastic. It is definitely a destination experience and for me, it is home. My aunt would have me work there whenever I would come to visit as a child. If you’re in Los Angeles, you definitely need to check it out.
Photography by: Photography courtesy Starz