"HTGAWM"'s Karla Souza explains why her bicultural characters are so important right now
As Laurel Castillo on How to Get Away With Murder, Karla Souza plays a strong, clever, lawyer-in-training who also happens to Mexican. Souza’s next role has her talking about the importance of bicultural characters on the screen —as well as diverse show creators. That shouldn’t be such a big deal, but unfortunately it is — her characters defy the usual tropes, tokenism, and stereotypes of Latinx individuals. And it’s about time.
The 31-year-old actress is currently starring in the romantic comedy Everybody Loves Somebody, out Feb. 17th, where she plays a super-successful OBGYN who hasn’t yet found true love. Her character Clara is Mexican-American and the film is in Spanish and English. And to top it all off, the movie was written and directed by another Latina woman, filmmaker Catalina Aguilar.
“I never want to limit my career to one language. I speak three languages, and I’m as culturally brought up in the US, Mexico, and France,” Souza told E! News. “I wish that my career can include all of these cultures and languages. I don’t think that one is better than the other, and I see them both with so much love.”
Souza credits Aguilar with the film’s refreshing break from stereotype. “This was like her movie, and she’s a Mexican that’s been living in LA for the last eight years,” Souza said, “and she knows the cultures, she’s experienced them both, isn’t ashamed of either of them, and she loves bringing them together.”
We could use more of that. On How to Get Away With Murder, Souza’s character Laurel wasn’t even originally supposed to be Latina. Souza told E! News back in 2015 that show creators Pete Nowalk and Shonda Rhimes had a conversation about making Laurel be Latin without it being the “make or break” label of the character, which is a refreshing thing to see on television.
Now, Souza is proud to be taking on projects where she can bring in her own background and tell stories that often get shoved aside in Hollywood. She said, “To be able to bring my life which was growing up in English and Spanish to the screen and sharing that with people, knowing that a lot of people feel that they are not being seen because there isn’t a lot of stories being told about us.”