ABC’s critically acclaimed American Crime returns in January with an all-new storyline and some new cast members as well. One of those is Angelique Rivera, who takes on her first major role directly out of college as Evy Dominguez, the only witness to the assault of a high school student by members of his school’s basketball team.
LA Fan Cultures Examiner conducted an e-mail interview with Angelique to discuss not only joining the star-studded cast of American Crime, but having this series as the starting point for her acting career.
What clues can she give us as to the nature of her character? “She’s fiercely loyal to the people that she loves and she’s extremely independent and strong for her age,” Angelique explained. “She had to grow up really fast because of her circumstances at home and with her family, but she is very family-oriented. She’s also very much a girl who is one of the guys, very tomboyish.”
“The audition process for me was very fast,” she said of landing the role. “It was exactly a week long from when I first auditioned to when I found out that I booked it. For my first audition I just had a day to prepare, so once I got there I just wanted to have fun and not overthink it. I got home and a couple hours later I got a call from my manager that I was going to test the following morning for American Crime. I was completely shocked.
“I prepared all night for the second audition the next day, which was really strenuous. But I went in the room that next day and I really gave it my all that day. And here we are with a premiere date in January.”
Joining the show also meant joining an ensemble that is led by Academy Award nominee Felicity Huffman and Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton. That’s some great – and potentially intimidating – company, so what was it like for Angelique to work with this cast and crew, especially since it was literally her first major job?
“It was honestly hard to believe at first. It kind of just felt like a dream,” she admitted. “It didn’t hit me until the first table read, when we were all there together for the first time. I just kind of started internally freaking out because this opportunity is so huge. To work with pros of this caliber, it’s an absolute dream come true. And yes, very intimidating. However, everyone is very supportive of each other and I became comfortable pretty quickly.
“Being on a set like American Crime sets a high standard because of the extreme talent, professionalism, and collaborative efforts that all the cast and crew members put forth,” she continued. “It’s inspiring and motivating to be a part of. We all work well with each other and it didn’t take me long to get acclimated to that environment. I knew as long as I put in the work that everything would be great; I trusted these people.”
“I love being on set!” Angelique enthused. “I’ll sometimes go to set on my days off just to be on set and learn my way around. I have just been a sponge this entire experience. Working with the cast has been a joy. I mainly work with Lili Taylor [who plays the victim’s mother] and Connor Jessup [who plays Connor Blaine], two extremely talented artists.
“Lili has given me a lot of advice just from her past experiences. How she handles herself on set has also taught me a lot,” she continued. “She’s a strong presence and force to be reckoned with; it’s amazing to act alongside her. She brings things out of you that you just didn’t even know existed. One scene we had she genuinely scared the crap out of me and I was shaken! She’s incredible.”
Naturally, the hope is that working on American Crime will be the first step in a career that will last for several years. Angelique talked to us about what she’d like to see after the series and what motivated her to choose acting in the first place.
“I just want to continue to tackle deep, complex characters and challenge myself to keep stretching as an actor,” she said. “I want to take on roles that scare me because I like to surprise myself. I would love to cross over and do film as well. I’m always up for an artistic challenge, so I hope that wherever my career takes me, I will just continue to grow as an artist and as an individual and be able to impact other people’s lives on a positive level.
“I would also love to be able to do roles that involve singing. I grew up doing musical theatre so I would love to be able to sing and act on screen one day and eventually return to the stage as well.”
Like many actors, once she committed to becoming a performer, she didn’t look back. “Once I discovered acting there was no other option for me,” she reflected. “I started out dancing and then got bored very quickly, but when I discovered musical theatre and saw that it involved dancing, singing, and acting I was sold. Then as I got older I just wanted to focus on acting and mastering the craft. I still sing, but I put it on the sideline for a while.
“I am obsessed with the craft of acting,” Angelique continued. “I thoroughly enjoy the acting process and inhabiting different characters. I never really had a Plan B. I knew that I would be a professional actor one day. I’ve always known that I was born to do this and there was never another logical possibility for me.”
Now she gets to look forward to starting her 2016 off on a huge note. Is she excited for American Crime‘s season premiere?
“To be transparent, the thought of being on national television freaks me out,” she laughed. “However what’s really comforting is that I don’t think people will recognize me on the show, because Evy is just so physically different from me. So I won’t really be seeing myself I’ll be seeing the character and having that separation is nice.
“I don’t have any special plans for the premiere yet,” she added. “We might be live-tweeting the premiere so that’ll be fun. I’m very curious and excited to see what people think about the show.” And how they’ll be discovering a brand-new acting talent, too.
American Crime premieres Wednesday, January 6 at 10 p.m. on ABC.