Exit Interview: Ana Ortiz

Exit Interview: Where are you right now, and do you have a driver?

Ana Ortiz: Oh, no, I drive myself. I’m headed to the Santa Monica Freeway.

EI: So how much time did you spend here with your dad growing up?

AO: I had every other weekend with my dad. I also went to college there. That’s really where I feel like I became an actor. Philly’s theater was more diverse than anywhere else.

EI: Speaking of diversity, are you tired of being typecast in Puerto Rican roles? Have you ever heard, “She can’t do Spanish?” Or “Mexican’s out of her range?”

AO: I’m never tired of working. [laughs] But if I play another maid named Maria — it’s like, really? Maria? It’s one thing that it’s the maid, but Maria’s the best you can do? [laughs]

EI: Critics have called your character “sassy,” a “spitfire” and “hot-­tempered.” Does it bother you to think that if you were Caucasian, they might not describe you the same way?

AO: The character description is always “hot, spicy Latina.” It’s the nature of the beast. What’s wonderful about this show is we get to go beyond that. It’s something about our culture — we put people in a little box to understand them.

EI: You’re always a “hot little taco.”

AO: [laughs] Right! It’s tiresome, but not that big of a deal.

EI: Stu Bykofsky of the Philadelphia Daily News called you “slinky.” What does that mean? You’re shiny and you tumble down stairs?

AO: [laughs] Stu! He’s my guy. He’s the coolest ever. He’d come to my dad’s parties. He always made me think I could do this. I think slinky means I’m nice. And skinny. [laughs]

EI: Did your dad drive you to auditions?

AO: He didn’t drive me to auditions, but he’s been really supportive.

EI: Did you get to know the other councilmen, or the Mayor?

AO: I knew some, yeah. I hung out in City Hall. I’ve met John Street a couple of times. To be perfectly … Ai–yai-yai … I don’t even think I should go there. [laughs]

EI: Go ahead. No one reads this page anyway.

AO: Y’know. [sighs] All right, fine, who cares. To be perfectly honest,
his vibe was smarmy. [laughs] I was in college, and college girls are
kinda snippety anyway. Oh God, I’m going to be in so much trouble.

EI: Hey, you’re not running for office, you can speak the truth. How popular was the name “Councilman Rick Mariano” at your house?

AO: You know, I don’t even know it.

EI: He once told your dad, “I’ll knock your teeth out and throw you out the window.”

AO: Oh, him! That’s right. [laughs] We all got a good laugh over that, because my father would have pummeled him. Have you seen my dad? Who’s going to lift him out a window? It’s impossible.

EI: So, um, with your dad and his license situation … did he teach you how to drive?

AO: [laughs] I didn’t get my driver’s license until I graduated from college. I just took driving lessons. We hardly ever let him drive anyway.

EI: Which in retrospect was probably a good idea.

AO: Yeah, he never did much driving. My stepmom drove. Arnold Schwarzenegger got in trouble for the same thing, no big deal. My dad, people were foaming at the mouth to screw with him because he’s been a thorn in so many people’s sides for so long. It was just a dumb mistake.

EI: So with Ugly Betty, do you ever think, “Damn it, if my teeth were a little jacked up and I hadn’t gotten LASIK, that would be me in the lead role”?

AO: [laughs] No. Maybe if I was 22. America [Ferrera, who plays Betty] has no time for anything. She’s in every shot, and when she’s not working, she’s doing publicity. She hardly ever sees her boyfriend. For me, I have a great job, and I have my freedom. Her teeth are gorgeous, by the way.

EI: Right. She is actually not ugly. Are you concerned about all the truly hideous out-of-work actresses she’s stealing paychecks from?

AO: [laughs] No, I’m not worried.

EI: To the best of your knowledge, does executive producer Salma Hayek have even the most remote connection to Philly?

AO: [laughs] Not to my knowledge. If I find something, I’ll give you a heads-up.

EI: I’ll be happy with an autographed photo. Preferably signed, “Dearest Exit Interview, let’s get it on, love, Salma.”

AO: [laughs] Right, right, right. I’m sure she’s used to those requests.

EI: What’s your dad’s reaction to your newfound fame?

AO: Every time I go out with him, he’s like “This is Hilda. This is Hilda.” I’m like, “Daddy! I’m not Hilda!” All my cousins live in Northern Liberties, so they have Ugly Betty night and go to my cousin’s house or my dad’s house and [high-pitched voice] all watch Ugly Betty! Isn’t that nice?

EI: Aww. He’s not moving to L.A. to become your chauffeur, right?

AO: [laughs] No, but he is going to be my date to all of the award shows when America gets nominated and we’re all invited.

EI: So we’ll see you two at the Emmys?

AO: Oh, heck yeah. Count on it.