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Southland - Interview with Carmen Corral

A new episode of Southland airs tonight and Carmen Corral, aka Elena, took some time to talk to us about her role on the show! Check it out!

SpoilerTV: Talking about your Mexican heritage, is it true you have self-taught yourself to be a professional salsa dancer? And you are also a writer. Any projects going on right now?

Carmen Corral: It's funny because most people don't associate Mexicans with salsa because it is traditionally danced by the caribbean cultures. But yes, I did teach myself. About five years ago, I went out salsa dancing for the first time after a break up to cheer me up and I never left. For two years, I went out dancing every night until I got really good at it. Now, on my down time from acting, I teach. I started writing actually because of salsa. I was really stuck by the fact that many of the top dancers in the salsa world were or used to be undocumented. I thought how funny: in real world they are invisible, but on the dance floor they are the kings. I thought this phenomenon would make a powerful story. So I enrolled in several screenwriting classes at UCLA extension and wrote the feature which I named, "La Clave" (a Spanish word that means "The Key" and it's also the name for the heartbeat of the salsa song). I submitted it into the Sundance Screenwriting Lab last year and it was actually chosen as a semi-finalist. I am currently in the process of developing it into a TV series in which I will portray one of the main characters.

SpoilerTV: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got the part of Elena in Southland? How are you two alike?

Carmen Corral: When my manager sent me the scenes to prepare for the audition and I read the character description, I knew that I was Elena. She is artist, painter to be exact, who grew up in a troubled family but chose a better path. My personal story is similar to hers. I know what it's like to grow up with adversity. Elena also has a very close relationship with her brother, "Moco." She is very protective of him. I am the same way with my brother. We share a very strong bond.
I then went to my friend, Jocko Sims, who is a fabulous actor, to help me rehearse the scenes. On the day of the audition, I felt nervous because I knew that I really wanted to play Elena. But I just took a moment to pray and practice positive visualization. When I walked out of that room, I knew magic had happened. The rest is history.

SpoilerTV: Were you a fan of the show before joining the cast?

Carmen Corral: Yes I was. I am a lover of anything gritty and urban. I grew up in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago, so it's all very familiar to me. I love how many of Southland's story lines deal with the issues of the urban communities in Los Angeles. I've been to a lot of those neighborhoods and Southland really gets it right. They are just not afraid to be real and that's admiral. Not to mention the incredible acting from the main cast. I mean everyone is just so good!

SpoilerTV: How is it to play Ben McKenzie’s love interest? What’s like on the set?

Carmen Corral: Playing Ben's love interest was absolutely lovely. He is an absolute gentlemen. From day one he was checking in with me making sure I was OK and felt comfortable. He is from Texas so he has that whole southern hospitality thing down. His sweetness made it easy to be in character as someone who loves him, because he is so very lovable!

SpoilerTV: What can you tell us about Ben and Elena’s future on the show?

Carmen Corral: I really can't say much. The only thing I can say is that the love they share is real. He cares for her deeply and will go to great lengths to protect her and their love.

Southland airs tonight on TNT. Stay tuned! Follow Carmen Corral on twitter.

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