“Vida” star, Mishel Prada, got her big break through a surprise audition and hard work

You may recognize Mishel Prada from her role as Gabi on the series, “Fear The Walking Dead: Passage” – one if the survivors of the zombie apocalypse (aka, a badass). 

But, Mishel is now onto a much different role on the new STARZ show, “Vida,” which focuses on a Latinx-American family from Boyle Heights. The show focuses on two sisters (one of which is played by Mishel) and their relationship with their hometown and their mother.

What’s really awesome is that the entire crew behind the show is an extremely inclusive and diverse bunch. It is a “perfect example of the magic that can happen when we are given the opportunity to use our own voices to tell our stories,” Mishel tells us.

Check out our interview and photoshoot with the actress below, where we talk about her love of food, her rescue cat, how to get involved with helping Raices, and more.

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Tell us about your time on the series, “Fear The Walking Dead: Passage.” What was the most important thing you learned about acting while working on that set?

I thought I was going in for a commercial when I went in to audition for it. I showed up, got the sides, and they were 2 pages long! They were so intense, and I thought, “Why do I have to cry in this commercial? “I was not prepared. They gave me the option to come back after lunch and take more time to prepare, but there was no way I was going to deal with traffic heading back to the Valley from Santa Monica.

I just went for it and did a cold read. Even when I found out I had booked it, I still had no idea what it was. It wasn’t until wardrobe called, that I found out it was for “Fear The Walking Dead.” So, I guess with that series, I learned not to over think things too much. And I also learned how to kill a zombie.

How were you similar, if at all, to your character, Gabi, on the show?

Gabi is very unsure of herself and she doubts her own power and abilities. She is controlled by the people around her. I can definitely relate to times in my life where I have felt that way.

She is also a survivor. No one stays alive in a zombie apocalypse by accident. We see her take back her strength and confidence in the series. It’s something I’m constantly learning to do.

You’re now starring in the new STARZ show, “Vida,” as the character, Emma. What is “Vida” about, for those who haven’t seen it yet?

“Vida” is at its heart of story of family, acceptance, and self-love. It centers around two Mexican-American sisters who are forced to go back to Boyle Heights, the east LA Chicano neighborhood they grew up in, because their mother, Vidalia, unexpectedly passes away. Both of the sisters view leaving their neighborhood behind as a badge of honor, as an “I got out.”

Emma was sent away at a young age by their mother because Emma was found kissing another little girl, so you can imagine how messy emotions get when she also finds out that her traditional Mexican mother was actually married to a woman for the last two years.

How does the theme of family play into “Vida?”

Family is everything in “Vida.” Both sisters have created these representations of themselves that they present to the outside world, but when they get together they see right through each other’s bullshit in a way that only family can. You also see how differently each person is grieving, and how challenging it is for them to connect to each other. It’s a difficult homecoming for each of them, but in the end, they need each other.

How does it feel starring in a show that is heavily focused on Latinx culture and actors – something that took a long time to come by in the entertainment industry? This show is a huge deal to be a part of. What do you hope is accomplishes for the viewers?

It’s such a privilege to bring life to a story that digs so specifically into the Latinx-American experience. You feel a connection to the country your parents or grandparents immigrated from, but you don’t feel at completely home there. Even though you were born in the United States, at times it can be difficult to feel “traditionally American.”

It’s an interesting limbo. I hope that our communities will feel seen, understood, and felt. I also hope that those people not from these Latinx-American communities will take the opportunity to get to know us. “Vida” invites you into our homes and encourages you to hang out in the living room and eat some flan.

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This show is revolutionary in a lot of ways. Talk to us about that.

“Vida” is the perfect example of the magic that can happen when we are given the opportunity to use our own voices to tell our stories. We have a proud, queer, Latinx showrunner, an all-Latinx writers room, all women of color directing, and an incredibly inclusive crew. I feel so lucky. I also feel determined to make sure our show is not an outlier forever. We want “Vida” to be a beacon for others to follow.

You are also one of the founding members of Damarosa, a female art collection. Can you tell us about the collective and what it stands for?

We started it in 2015. My friend, Brittany Bogan, is an incredible fine artist and she had the idea to create an all-female art collective with diverse woman across the US and Mexico. Damarosa presents essential female authors alongside up and coming artists and filmmakers.

We re-examine the work of influential woman in literature through various mediums and intersectional frameworks. Issue 1 was based on Anais Nin’s Little Birds. Issue 2 was Rachel Carlson’s Little birds.

How can someone reading this get involved?

On the website, www.damarosa.com we sell a zine showing the works exhibited in the show. The money goes directly to funding future shows. Also, we are always looking for interesting spaces to exhibit our works in. So, if anyone has a space they are willing to donate, we are always open!

You’re big on getting involved and volunteering – what are the top three issues that you are really passionate and why?

Our “Vida” writers room along with Netflix’s One Day At A Time, began an initiative called “One Vida At A Time.” It’s helping raise funds for Raices bond fund, to help pay the bonds of parents who were detained and separated from their children at the border.

This is the first step to help reunification. I feel that it’s cruel the way that went down. How can you separate a child from their parent as a “deterrent?” We have to help in any way that we can.

How can someone reading this help with this cause?

If you follow #onevidaattime on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll see many people that have accepted the initiative. I would encourage others to donate to Raices Texas.

You love to cook – mainly Latin/Caribbean foods. What’s your favorite dish to make and why?

Soup! I love soup! I feel like a little witchy magician when I’m making it. It’s a liquid hug.

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Favorite dish to go out and splurge on?

I love oysters; they are so grotesque and delicious. They are also usually only a few in front of you so you are forced to savor each one.

Favorite place to travel to?

I try to spend some of my time in New Orleans, I have a house there and no matter where I’ve travelled there always feels the best.

Dream spot to visit?

I mean, Japan is quite epic.

Tell us about your rescue cat, Louie.

I rescued him from my friend Cameron Richardson. When she began dating her current partner, Louie, she invited me over for a dinner party at his house. My boyfriend mentioned how cute the cat was, and he told us to take him. Cam’s son was allergic to cats, so we went home with a cat. He liked the cat, but he liked her more. We named him Louie.

Photos by Jacqueline Kulla

Makeup by Paul Blanch at Opus Beauty using Hourglass Cosmetics

Hair by Tiago Goya

Styling by Monty Jackson

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