Party of Five Actress Elizabeth Grullón on Loving Her Afro-Latina Roots
Dominican American actress Elizabeth Grullón talks to People CHICA about her exciting role in Freeform's reboot of Party of Five.
Elizabeth Grullón shines in the role of Dominican activist Sully in the new Party of Five, airing now on Freeform. “Sully is amazing. She is very strong, smart, unapologetic — all of these qualities I love in a person and especially a woman of color,” she tells People CHICA about her character. “She is very courageous. She is a compassionate warrior like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. — people who were extremely loving and had an open heart but had a fierceness to them.”
Like Sully, the actress is proud of her real-life Latinx heritage. “I’m very close to my Dominican roots. My parents are from D.R. My mother is from the campo, my father is from the city, from Santo Domingo,” she says. “They met in New York so my whole family is very Dominican. I was born in New York so I’m very American, but in my household there was arroz con pollo, tostones. My father would drink a Presidente while listening to Juan Luis Guerra. I’ve been dancing salsa, merengue, and bachata since I was walking basically. My parents always spoke Spanish in the house. It’s very much who we are and I’m so grateful for that. I make sofrito and make my mom’s rice and beans recipe.”
She also celebrates being Afro-Latina. “I’m very proud of being an Afro-Latina. I have big curly hair and dark skin and I think that’s beautiful,” she reflects. “Some Latinos like to distinguish a lot between those different roots but I look at it with pride, looking back at the history of my mother country and where my African bloodline came in and my Spanish bloodline came in and the Taíno native people that were there. It’s a beautiful mix. I definitely see myself as Afro-Latina. I consider myself a black woman as well so there’s a lot of intersection happening, but it’s all a celebration for me.”
Grullón also plays the antagonist role of the Second Sister — also known as Trilla Suduri — in the new video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. “She is totally comfortable with everyone around her being uncomfortable,” Grullón says of the character. “For me it’s very easy to want to take care of everybody else and put myself last, and I think that’s a very common thing that women do. So to play this woman who says, ‘Oh no, I’m first’ — it’s so fun to explore that.”
Grullón balances her own emotions with meditation. “Meditation has enabled me to become more empowered,” she says. “With mindfulness you are taking time to connect with yourself and just sit there with you. It’s such a simple thing but no one does that in our society for the most part. As I sat there with myself for hours a week, I encountered more and more aspects of me — fears, dreams, worries, this whole inner universe — and it enables me to bring these different qualities into the characters I play.”
She is thrilled with the message of compassion that Party of Five is bringing to viewers. “This new version of the series is about five kids whose parents are deported to Mexico, and the writers have done a brilliant and brave job of exploring in a very human way the different things that are happening at the border,” she says. “It’s a very timely series. In the past few years I’ve noticed that with immigrant issues it’s very easy for people to view immigrants as people who broke a rule. There is a certain harshness. This series gives a heart and a face to these human beings … People can vote however they want to vote, but we have to have heart. These people don’t cease to be human beings because they broke a rule. This series does a great job in bringing that humanity into people’s living rooms. It’s such a powerful seed to plant.”