Originally published in the December 2015 issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine
By Anllelic Lozada
A lot has happened for Dominican actress, Karina Estela Ortiz, since her high school drama classes. At some point, she wanted to sing but was terrified to be in front of a large audience. Then she pursued a business degree—mostly to give her mom the comfort of knowing her daughter would have a stable career. Soon after, Ortiz had a change of heart and switched to her first love, acting, and graduated with a BA in Theatre from the City College of New York.
Upon graduating, she performed on Off-Broadway stages but later focused on TV, with a guest role in shows like “Do No Harm,” “Pushing Dreams” and “Blue Bloods.” Then Ortiz joined the cast of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” in season 3 as Berto Colon’s girlfriend, Margarita. Most recently, you can see her play a nanny in the USA Network’s “Royal Pains” and she’ll play a reporter in ABC’s new political drama starting next year called “The Family.” We caught up with Karina while she’s in the middle of pilot season auditions, where we talked about Latinas on the big screen, overcoming depression and finding her inner strength.
We have seen a lot more Latino roles in TV and Hollywood lately. What do you think marked the shift?
Producers are realizing how much power we have here in the USA. There is power in numbers. I think what helped the shift is shows like “Jane the Virgin” (which I auditioned for) and “Orange is the New Black,” which show these Dominicanas always lookin’ fabulous. Most of the auditing
I go to is for Latina characters, which a couple of years ago I didn’t see it as much. You may go for a Latina role, but you would be surprised, as some Latinas look American, some Americans can look Latina and even Europeans may also go for the role because they have worked in Latin America.
What do you think about the new TV show, “Telenovela,” produced by and starring Eva Longoria?
I auditioned for it. It sounds very exciting and fun. I admire her for her work in philanthropy, as an actress and as a producer. She’s putting Latinos to work and putting their face out there.
Actors go through a lot of rejection. How have you dealt with it?
At the beginning, I was really hard on myself and fell into depression. I was telling myself why I wouldn’t make it. Especially when you start, there’s so much rejection out there that it can be easy to fall down. I had to fight the demons inside me. We tell each other lies and we are our worst enemy. After a while, you can either give up or prove that you can do it. Look at your inner child and be the person it needs you to be. Keep pushing and don’t victimize yourself because the world is not against you. I’m thankful that I’m not there anymore.