Stephanie Beatriz wants her daughter to know she can do anything.
“I want my kiddo to see that it’s OK to be afraid of something and go for it,” the actor shared while at Outfest Fusion’s opening night gala in Los Angeles.
With that, Beatriz noted that motherhood has not changed the types of roles or projects she takes on. If anything, “the desire to do things that challenge me has gotten bigger and stronger.”
“What I’ve always tried to think about when I choose projects — or go after projects, I should really say, because I’m auditioning — (I'm) still trying to figure out what the things are that challenge me as an actor and challenge me as a person,” she explained, adding that when she reads a role she has to feel "an electric spark" that makes her feel like she can "bring something to this that no one else can, bring some perspective that I have.”
That night, Beatriz was presented with the Fusion Achievement Award by “Encanto” co-star Wilmer Valderrama and Gloria Calderón Kellett. The honor recognized her contributions to LGBTQIA+ storytelling, arts and media visibility.
“It’s really amazing,” she said of the honor. “As somebody who, when I started in this industry, wasn’t sure that there was a place for me at all, to have people respond to my work and say what you’re doing is important and really value you, that’s really, really special.”
"It's really easy to come out for her because she's come for me so many times and supported me," Calderón Kellett also told TODAY at the event. "I was such a fan of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine.' That's when I first knew her work. And then I followed her career and she's just such a versatile actress and such a kind person."
Events like Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival — which celebrates individuals of color making an impact in the LGBTQIA+ space — are so vital, Beatriz said.
“In the history of Hollywood telling stories, historically it has been a very specific type of story, a specific type of hero or heroine at the center of those stories. That’s changing, but it’s changing because of things like Outfest Fusion,” she expressed. “It’s changing because more and more people are validating themselves and seeing themselves as the hero and the heroine of the story. And that only happens when people are given a platform and an opportunity to show their stories, tell their stories. It’s immeasurable, that chance to vocalize who you are, where you’re from … That’s priceless.”
Beatriz, who is bisexual, also shared that it wasn’t until her role as Rosa Diaz in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” that she actually felt seen on screen.
“I hadn’t seen really very many bisexuals in the media up to that point, at least not the kind that were pursuing a life that made them feel fulfilled. Definitely not ‘a good person or a good guy,’” she said. “Most of the depictions of bisexual people that I had seen up to that point were very duplicitous. A lot of times they were the bad guys.”
She explained that those depictions left her wondering as a kid if that was her future and if she was “somehow inherently bad?”
“Because what I’m seeing projected back to me in the media is that I am,” she added. “And that’s a really hard pill to swallow as a kid. And it’s part of why it took me so long to come out. Because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. I knew I didn’t want to be the bad guy. And so really the first time I saw a bi-character who had a great job and healthy group of friends, prospects for their future, a great sense of humor and a f---ing kick ass wardrobe was seeing Rosa Diaz on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine.’”
Beatriz hopes that others who don't feel seen get the chance. She said it all starts with “looking for yourself and finding artists that speak to you as a person, finding artists like you, or identify the way that you identify.”
She noted that the great thing about this day, particularly with media, “is that there’s a niche for you.”
“No matter who you are, where you are on the planet, find other people that are interested in what you’re interested in and can teach you something about themselves,” she said, “The reality is you do exist. Just because in this moment you don’t feel seen, it’s a very small moment in the big, big timeline of your life.”