Entertainment journalist Rory Cashin speaks with Brooklyn 99 star Stephanie Beatriz about bisexuality and representation ahead of Dublin Comic-Con.
Stephanie Beatriz is Rosa Diaz, but also Stephanie Beatriz could barely be any less like Rosa Diaz. Brooklyn Nine-Nine's tough-as-nails detective has a voice that could give a cement truck a run for its money, is a big fan of collecting axes and knives, and is not a fan of expressing emotion.
Beatriz, on the other hand, has a constantly uplifting lilt to the way she speaks, is quick to laugh (and even, at one point during our conversation, cry), and while we did not speak to her collection of sharp objects, both Diaz and Beatriz do have something in common, having both come out as bisexual.
In the run-up to Beatriz’s visit to Ireland to take part in the Dublin Comic-Con on Sat 14 and Sun 15 March, I chatted at length about her career to date, and the future for both Beatriz and Diaz.
She revealed the one quote that fans say to her more than any other – "What kind of a woman doesn’t have an axe?" – and how she reacts to situations like these comic conventions, where rooms are full of nothing but love, but one of the primary talking points did revolve around Diaz’s coming out on a major, hugely popular series, and essentially becoming the only representation of a bisexual character on a prime-time TV show.
When it comes to characters who identify as queer, it can sometimes become their only identifiable characteristic, if the writing and the character aren’t handled well, so I wanted to know if there is a tricky balance in wanting to maintain that representation without becoming one-note?
"I think that, in the way that you and I already know, that we are not defined by our sexuality," Beatriz begins, "we’re both interesting, complex, funny, loving, sometimes asshole people. And there is no way for a staff of writers so talented to boil down – LOL, I just said 'Boyle’! – or minimise a character that they have so lovingly built up over the years. There is no way to minimise her down to just that.
"Every writer on the show is a damned good writer. And that is why the characters on the show feel so complex. I felt they were very complex characters from the get-go, but especially after the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seasons, they had the time to explore these characters, and there was just no way they could go backward and say ‘Now this person is just this’.
"We’re also lucky that they’re not just talented, but they’re also decent people, and decent people don’t do that to each other. Decent people don’t say ‘We’ll you’re this, and that’s it’. So they would never be able to cut her down to just one thing."
Beatriz has recently directed an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with plans to direct some more, and while there is no sign of Diaz leaving us any time soon, two other majors shows that the actor has been a part of – Modern Family and Bojack Horseman – are coming to an end.
And while there is no sign of Beatriz leaving us any time soon, with a major role in this summer’s big musical In The Heights hitting Irish cinemas in August, she has already left a major impression on modern culture with Diaz by providing a voice and some much-needed representation to an underseen part of society.
- Written by Rory Cashin