The Colombian American actress Isabella Gomez chats about the new season of One Day at a Time and the boom of new Latinx-centered shows.

By Lena Hansen
March 06, 2020

Being back on the set of One Day at a Time was an exhilarating experience for Isabella Gomez. "It's so fulfilling. It almost feels like a dream because it's been a year and a half since the wrap, and it's been a long wait, a long hiatus, and for a few of those months we thought that it might be over for real. But we're back because of the love of our fans," Gomez tells People CHICA. Netflix canceled the show last year, but it was later picked up by Pop TV, where the new season will premiere March 24.

"That's a testament to the show, how the Latino representation that is shown is actually hitting home for so many people. There are so many communities that are so starved for representation that get it here, and it feels lovely to do that again for them," Gomez adds. "When a studio cancels a show or movie because there are not enough eyes on it, and it's a 'Latinx-led, LGBTQ, strong women kind of show,' then the next time a creator wants to make one of those shows they get to say no because there is not an audience for it. So to be back makes us feel really hopeful for the future, not only for us, but for other content that represents those communities."

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The Colombian American actress, 22, also talked about the evolution of her beloved character and the Alvarez family. "Elena is growing up before our eyes. She is graduating high school and doing the college entry process. She is still with Syd and they adore each other, and Alex is getting a girlfriend, which is the first time we see papito with a girlfriend," she says about the character of her younger brother, played by Marcel Ruiz. "We have a lot of cool guests, so it's a very exciting new season."

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Playing a character that is part of the LGBTQ community is empowering. "Elena is such a joy to play. I have grown more in the past four years of my life than I have ever before. She pushes me to my limit and makes me get informed about stuff that I normally wouldn't even hear about," she says. "The LGBTQ aspect is so lovely, it's so human, it's such a joy to get to start normalizing something that should already be so normal because love is love. Before bringing Syd on, I had never seen a gender nonconforming character on a TV show."

Reuniting with Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, and the rest of the cast was a blessing. "It was so emotional," she admits. "We had all seen each other here and there of course because we all actually adore each other and really enjoy each other's company, but being back on a stage with the whole Alvarez set there was mind-boggling. We had known we were coming back for a few months at that point, but this season had to be written and there was pre-production so it was full circle and we were all so excited to get another shot and to be together every day again."

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She says she felt nervous and rusty the first time back on the One Day at a Time set. "Once you get in there and once you get that live audience in there, we all get back in the groove," she explains. "But before you get that first laugh it's always nerve-racking. Even Rita, who is a goddess, says she gets nervous before every show, which I think is lovely. It's fun nervousness."

Gomez is happy to see more Latinx-centered shows emerge. "We are taking steps in the right direction. When we started season one, I think it was just Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time, and right now there is On My Block, Party of Five, Gentefied, The Expanding Universe of Ashley García, and The Baker and the Beauty. And there are so many shows with Latinx leads, which was not the case five years ago, but also we're having Latinx artists at all levels. It's not enough to just have two Latinx actors in the lead. I think the reason there is more content — and more authentic and positive content — is because writers, producers, and directors are also Latinx, which is so crucial when telling these kids of stories."

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