Teresa Ruiz's journey has come full circle. The actress, who moved to El Paso, Texas from her hometown of Oaxaca at the age of 12, is now fortunate enough to live between Los Angeles and Mexico for her latest role as the domineering Isabella Bautista in Narcos: Mexico. Although her move to Texas was a smooth transition, at the age of 14, Teresa's dad sent her to live with her aunt in California due to the violence across the border. The then-teenager had a difficult time adjusting since she was about to begin high school, and she missed her family terribly. Regardless, Teresa, who has also starred in Gael García Bernal's Aquí en La Tierra found the light at the end of the tunnel through acting. Her curiosity for a career in the entertainment industry led her to find comfort in the Actor’s Studio where she met one of her first mentors, Al Pacino, among other renowned Hollywood stars. It was acting that gave her a “sense of home” and that made her “time way easier.”
Since joining the Netflix series, she has a new sense of family in her co-stars that includes Diego Luna, Tenoch Huerta and Michael Peña. Keep reading for her full HOLA! USA exclusive to find out how Diego, who plays the Guadalajara Cartel leader, went above and beyond to support her, what she had to remind herself about playing a woman of the '80s, and why she quickly changed her mind about wearing haute couture.
Teresa with the cast of Narcos: Mexico at a Netflix cocktail party in Mexico City
HOLA! USA: Were you a fan of the series before?
Teresa Ruiz: “Of course, who wasn’t? I’m very happy that I waited until this season to work on the show. I’m really, really happy that that worked out because this part is a dream part.”
Who was the most welcoming on set?
“A lot of people don’t know that most of us grew up working together, and most of us knew each other from before. When we were doing the makeup tests and becoming these characters, I remember Tenoch Huerta [who plays Rafael Caro Quintero] came and hugged me because we were going to be able to tell this story together. And then I met Diego during the shoot, and he’s very supportive of me – especially about the struggle that I’m telling you about. He’s the number one supporter of giving Isabella more power."
Teresa plays Isabella Bautista in the hit Netflix series Photo: Instagram/@_teresaru
It’s apparent she wants a bigger part in the operation. How has it been playing Isabella?
“It’s been a struggle because she’s a woman that's not willing to let her femininity go in the search for power, and that I have liked a lot. I think there’s a lot that we say with the clothes that I wear, with the ways that I move. The struggle is that a lot of times the representation of power was seen through the eyes of men for many, many generations. Every time a woman wanted to achieve power in the workplace, it almost seems like she has to seem masculine. This character doesn’t do it. She just doesn’t care, and she’ll embody her sexuality. That’s one of the things I really like about her. There’s also the other side... I have to remember that I’m portraying a character that’s not a hero and is a criminal who is not an example to follow, so it’s a struggle.”
The soon-to-be 30-year-old with Mexican actor and co-star Diego Luna
Speaking to that, with 2018 being the ‘Year of the woman’, what was it like playing a woman in the ‘80s?
“It’s very interesting to live in 2018 and portray a woman from then. We are talking about a character that lived in that era when men really treated women badly. Throughout the show, you see many blows to her pride and to who she is. I had to take them with the consciousness of who I am as a millennial living in 2018. I’m very proactive about the things that are happening with women, so it was hard because I knew that I had to just represent how it was then. And then hopefully when you see it today, it can stir up emotions.”
The Mexican actress has grown a love for shopping for high-end vintage
You’re turning 30 soon. How will you celebrate?
“I don’t think I understand what’s going to happen to me. I think I understood my 20s really well, but I don’t think I understand what’s coming. It is a big change. Honestly, I don’t know where I’m going to be [for my birthday]. I never celebrate my birthdays because it’s so close to the holidays, but maybe I’ll travel somewhere by myself.”
How do you define your style these days?
“Before I used to wear more of a hipster, young look because I never thought of this high couture would fit me well. Then, working with Maria Estela I was like, 'Oh man, I actually like this. So now I’m getting a lot of high-waisted pants, blusas con hombreras, things I never thought. And the shoes, omg. That was a thing. What shoes is she going to wear now? I have all these shoes, and they’re all vintage. I went to Paris recently and was shopping for vintage shoes. It’s like an obsession now. It’s bad.”
Narcos: Mexico is available on Netflix now