When we look at the music industry today, we’re often shown the expensive clothes, glamorous jewelry, homes way too big for one person to live in and large amounts of cash the average person will probably never make in their lifetime. But who is the artist without the material things; stripped away from the stylists, the entourage and the adoring fans? Who is the person when the makeup comes off and they go to bed alone?
In the hit ABC show Queens, this is the life of Valeria “Buter Pecan” Mendez, a Puerto Rican rapper part of the Queens dynasty, who welcomes the fame, the entourage, the money and persona that screams “look at my life, I have it all.” However, after leaving Queens, Valeria spent her life chasing more fame and success (even if she had to poison her co-star’s drink) in hopes of running from a past filled of abandonment. Even after her daytime talk scandal behind her and with the success of Queens reuniting, Valeria’s trauma and vulnerability soon caught up with her in the form of a scam artist pretending to be her mother, the attempted murder of fellow best-friend Briana, and learning her real mother died years ago.
Instead of facing and dealing with her pain, Valeria found escapism through Thomas, a man she knew nothing but quickly married on a whim. Was it passion that drew her to him or the possibility of someone loving her even for a fleeting moment? While it is easy for Valeria to run away from her problems and this marriage, she has decided (for now) to face the consequences of her actions and open herself to a stranger. And while it’s still too soon to know if Valeria can grow to love Thomas, it’s more important Valeria grows to love herself.
The Koalition spoke to actress Nadine Velazquez about the Valeria’s growth, marriage, solo career and what fans can expect this season.
“I think Valeria should process [her mother’s death] at some point but we’re not seeing that this first season, maybe season two but definitely we’re moving really fast [for]season one.
She’s heartbroken and then this love comes into her life, and it is authentic, this is not like Valeria especially with relationships. We really wanted just to create an opening for love. [For Valeria], like Bree life is short; Bree almost died life. [For Valeria], life is short, life has shifted so fast. [She decides] ‘I’m going to live for today, I’m going to just jump in and go ahead and do this now. I love Thomas. [He] seems to be very genuine.'”
Tossed in the foster system from a young age, Valeria has always struggled with the concept of love; only saying it to two people; instead, she found love in success. But what is love according to Valeria? Living this long without it, can Valeria recognize true love when it stares her in the face? While it’s easy for a person to say, “I love you,” for Valeria, those words carry weight and meaning she doesn’t toss around lightly.
There is an importance to her saying (or not saying) “I love you because she’s only said it to two people in her whole life. It was like supposed to be so meaningful and special. You don’t just say it because I’m saying it. Say it because it’s in your heart to say it, say it because you can’t help but say it and not because I’m asking for it.”
“I think we’re going to keep seeing how Valeria is pushing this relationship away. I think that it’s still going to be a source of conflict for her for the rest of season 1 season [but] we can just see he brings stability, consistency and a kind of love and strength that she’s just not used to. I think they definitely have a power struggle. You’re going to see that and then ultimately, she’s just going to have to make a choice for herself. She still has so much more to grow and if we get a season two that would be really great to explore because part of what I loved about the audience response to Valeria is so many women saying ‘I’m just like that’ and part of my intuition with this character has been to represent the women who are that way.”
“I love that we’ve set up Valeria to just have this inner conflict that she’s kind of aware of but doesn’t really know how to just be consistent with. She knows how to talk about it but when it comes down to it, she doesn’t really know how to live it.”
To learn more about Valeria and Nadine Velazquez, check out our full interview in the video above.