Isabella Gomez Talks Playing a LGBTQ+ Latina on Netflix’s One Day At a Time
It’s no secret that Netflix is all about the reboots. The streaming service brought back the Full House cast in early 2016 and gifted us with a Gilmore Girls revival a few months later — and then they released One Day At a Time a year after that. The dramedy may have ended in 1984, but it’s back and more relevant than ever, especially where Isabella Gomez’s character is concerned.
The 19-year-old Colombian actress plays Elena Alvarez, a high-school student who is devoted to social justice. But besides boring her mom, grandma, and brother with details about vegetarianism and feminism in season one, she also struggled to come out to her fam as a lesbian. But when season two premiered on January 26, viewers got to watch her start a Gay Club at her school and catch feelings for her new non-binary love interest, Syd.
One Day At a Time showrunners Gloria Calderon Kellet and Mike Royce ran this by the young actress as soon as she was cast. Knowing she was from a Latina family, they wanted to make sure she’d be comfortable with this character arc — and it’s a good thing she was because LGBTQ+ fans are obsessed with her portrayal of Elena.
“They’re all so grateful to see themselves represented on TV and represented accurately,” she told Clevver.com in an exclusive interview. “I think we see more male gay storylines than female lesbian storylines, so there are so many 15-year-old girls that message me and say, ‘I can’t believe this. I’ve never seen this.'”
How incredible is that? One Day At a Time was even nominated for a GLAAD Media Award this year for Outstanding Comedy Series, along with shows like Modern Family and Transparent. We love that Isabella is getting recognition for her depiction of an LGBTQ-Latina. Even off screen, the teen makes sure to promote accurate representation and equality for her 70,000 Instagram followers.
I believe girls are, and have always been, badasses who are capable of anything and everything. I believe in the power of girls. I, along with a bunch of other incredible ladies, help build a TV family that brings positive and accurate representation to many underrepresented groups. Using this platform we hope to also help build a community of girls/women that don’t see each other as competition, but as companions in the fight for equality. What have you built? Tag your fellow builders and join the movement #GirlsBuild #FIERCEbymitu #PowerInNumbers #ODAAT
It definitely helps that the show’s writers are incredibly open to feedback from the actors themselves.
“If there’s ever phrasing that doesn’t seem right or I don’t think Elena would feel that way, they’re so open to discussion and want to make sure we feel comfortable,” she said. “If it feels wrong to their actors, they realize there might be something that’s missing or needs rephrasing.”
Considering this is her first experience as a series regular, the teen is aware of how lucky she is to work with such a great team of people. She appeared on a Modern Family episode in 2016 and a few Matador eps before that, but taking on a major role on a Netflix show doesn’t have the young actress feeling pressure as you’d may expect — she just feels blessed!
She explained, “I get to […] explore and experience my art with people that I know care about me and want to make me better, and I get to do it with a character that means something to people. It’s more than you could ever hope for. As an actor, you just want to work, but when you get to work on something you love, it’s amazing.”
It’s a good thing Isabella loves One Day At a Time so much because Netflix just renewed them for a third season that will premiere in early 2019. We’re SO happy for her and for all the LGBTQ+ Latina ladies tuning in that get to finally find themselves on their television screens.