Stephanie Beatriz talks diversity, weddings and looking up to Rosa Diaz
When Brooklyn Nine-Nine ends its fifth season on Sunday, May 20, viewers can expect the much-anticipated wedding of Detectives Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago, as well as the show’s trademark ridiculousness and witty banter.
But no Nine-Nine wedding, or episode, would be as fun without the sarcastic commentary of Rosa Diaz, the smart, yet scary detective who can shut anyone up with the mere raise of an eyebrow. Taking on the role of one of TV’s most snarky detectives is Stephanie Beatriz, who after five seasons on the show, still can’t believe her good fortune.
“I’m very, very grateful. I don’t think I’ve ever dreaded coming into work,” said Beatriz. “This is everything I could have ever dreamed of growing up.”
That dream goes well beyond just making it as an actress. As an Argentinian transplant to the United States, Beatriz noted that the only on-screen diversity she was exposed to as a child was on Sesame Street or on the Spanish-language channel. She, along with her castmates Melissa Fumero, Andre Braugher and Terry Crews, now play a significant part in changing that trend.
Beatriz initially auditioned for the role of Det. Amy Santiago and when she heard that the part had gone to Fumero, a fellow Latina, she was devastated.
“I said there was no way in hell a network TV show would have not one, not two, not three, but four people of color in the main cast,” said Beatriz.
But lucky for her, she was wrong. A character in the original script named Megan—described as tough, smart and scary as hell—was renamed Rosa and Beatriz not only found herself with a breakthrough role, but on one of the most diverse casts on network TV.
“I look around my cast and I’m filled with this very intense feeling of gratitude and joy,” said Beatriz. “As an actress and someone in the entertainment industry for a while, I don’t take it for granted.”
And though on-screen she plays a feisty detective known for her perpetual scowl and sharp one-liners (including her personal favorite “what kind of woman doesn’t own an axe”), once that leather jacket comes off, Beatriz says she is much more feminine and non-confrontational.
“Personality-wise, I feel like Rosa is very much the kind of woman I wish I was more often. She’s really straightforward, no nonsense and kind of horrifyingly brave,” said Beatriz, noting that playing Rosa has emboldened her to take on more of those characteristics rather than shy away from confrontation when the situation calls for it. “I think females are often encouraged to take on a sort of responsibility to be the calm and graceful one and be the peacemaker. Rosa doesn’t involve herself in any of that. I love that about her.”
And though their voices, feelings towards small animals, and personalities might differ, Beatriz’s revelation last year that she was bisexual was also a major storyline for her on-screen character this season. It’s a weighty topic for a primetime sitcom, but one of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s strengths has been its ability to flawlessly walk the tightrope of authentically tackling pertinent issues in one moment, while getting audiences to laugh out loud the next. That success is not only due to the diversity of the cast, but that of the writers’ room and creators as well.
“In this particular show, it’s necessary for our writers and cast to have all these different ways of looking at the world and that brings this motley crew together and makes them more empathetic and able to see different peoples’ stories,” Beatriz said. “Dan Goor [who created the show with Michael Schur] is so brilliant at finding the balance between the things he wants to say to the world in this weird, wacky humor. This joyful experience of touching on stuff that’s important and having a super diverse cast—so much of that is Dan Goor’s fingerprint.”
While network executives have yet to renew Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a sixth season (that decision should be finalized this month), Beatriz has quite a few other projects to keep her occupied. She’ll be lending her voice talents to the Mother’s Day episode of Bob’s Burgers as well as to a recurring Bojack Horseman character next season. And while season five finds Rosa playing bridesmaid to Amy, this October it’ll be Beatriz walking down the aisle, a soirée that will be attended by the Nine-Nine gang.
“I cannot imagine getting married and not having those people there,” said Beatriz of her upcoming wedding to Brad Hoss. “I love these people dearly, they are extremely important to me. They’re inspiring, not just at work but in their lives. They’ve really helped me grow as a person and I’m excited to have them at my wedding.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX.
FOX announced that Brooklyn Nine-Nine will not be renewed for a sixth season on May 10. But fans are still hopeful that the quirky crew will be reunited again on another network or streaming service.
Update May 11: On the wish-list for new homes is Hulu, with a new Care2 petition asking the streaming service to resurrect the show. The petition garnered more than 1,400 signatures in less than 24 hours.
“From its diverse cast of characters to its special brand of comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a stand-out show,” said petition author Alex Badduke said. “We cannot let it end prematurely!”
Over at Change.org, another campaign site, more than 23,000 fans have signed a petition asking Netflix or Hulu to pick up the show for a sixth season.
Update May 12: NBC has officially picked up Brooklyn Nine-Nine for a sixth season.