Gabrielle Ruiz – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I am wrapping up season one of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” We just had one of our last table read , which was exciting and heartfelt. Everyone was excited about what we have left to do and satisfied with what we have done. Other than that, I am paying it forward to the next generation of artists as I am also a teacher and a motivational speaker. So, I’ve been working with high schools and colleges in giving back and helping to aspire the next dreamers to do what we do on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
Q) How was your character, Valencia, originally described to you?
A) Valencia was originally described as the girlfriend of Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III). It was definitely in broad strokes of her being a yoga instructor and also a woman who was a queen bee in her high school. She has now been dating the same man for fifteen years. She can come off as a protective with her inner circle and can be intimidating as well. It was a broad stroke as to what you could presume was a “mean girl.” When I got a call back in New York for this show, all we had was snippets of this first episode. She is not in the first episode so there was one sentence in Santino’s [Fontana] character (Greg) dialogue that said Josh had to be at a quinceanera for his girlfriend’s sister. I remember listening to it and said to my fiancé, “I think that’s her!” I guessed right! My guess was good.
Q) There is such great chemistry between you and your costar, Vincent. I know you both come from theatre backgrounds. Were you familiar with each other at all before being cast?
A) We are both New York City theatre veterans for years. Even though we have one degree of separation from colleagues that have worked together, we had never worked together until “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” It’s something I also love about what we do. There are so many talented people on both coasts that sing, dance or act (or all three) that we can have long conversations as to who else we love, adore and worked with. I was finally able to get the chance to work with him and we had a really great time sharing stories of everyone that we’ve mutually worked with. Like I said before and I said to him, he’s a very attractive man. So, it’s not hard to stand next to him and be his trophy girlfriend. It’s been fun off set because we have a collaboration for how we have been trained as New York City theatre people and we’ve been able to bring our chops to the TV. Both of us have been on TV before, but for me this is my biggest moment on TV. We were able to instill that and use it here. We hold hands here and be nervous together and also hold hands and be the trophy couple of West Covina. So, it’s been really, really fun to say the least.
Q) We found out recently Valencia has an idea of what is really going on in Rebecca’s mind. What is her perspective though of Rachel’s relationship with Josh?
A) I love the more and more that I get to know Valencia that I love that they give her a chance to ironically be the voice of reason and the truth of maybe one in a hundred viewers see as crazy. If you were standing at this moment on a bus and watching someone poll dance and making it no big deal – it’s nuts! It’s also what we love about the show, all of us. I have loved speaking the truth and putting them straight as to what is really happening in the situation. It’s been interesting to play Valencia who is not necessarily angry or feels she is being left out. She is trying to keep her normal life from before Rebecca Bunch came in still normal. That’s what she is fighting for because this new woman from New York crash landed into their world and is shaking up their world. I think Valencia likes the least that her world is being shook up.
Q) Does Valencia think that Josh has feelings for Rebecca?
A) Absolutely I think she does! As a woman, to have physical attraction to more than one person is a typical thing, especially in a long term relationship. I think she has experienced that before, especially with him moving to New York she is forced to be comfortable with that. So, this new person in her life who is creating chemistry with her boyfriend she is definitely aware of and dealing with it in Valencia’s own way.
Q) Was there anything you added to your role that wasn’t originally scripted for you?
A) In the first audition, they were playing with the post yoga number. Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) creates the opportunity to have lunch with Valencia and Valencia is not 100% on board at the beginning. She finally resigns at the end of the scene. It was always changing what kind of water Valencia wanted. They settled on box water and I love that because it is so ecofriendly and very high maintenance. It’s wonderful that boxed water is a great thing for the environment, but it is also something that Valencia is very proud to be very strict about. I made sure that when we were in that scene and episode that when Valencia drank it was still boxed water. It was fun to see that come to play back in scenes and she is always drinking boxed water. It’s been really, really fun to keep up with it.
Q) What is in store for Valencia the rest of the season?
A) What is in store for Valencia is she is reminded it has been fifteen years that Josh and her have bene together and time is ticking. I think she is provoked on that situation. She is forced to address that situation and I hope that the viewers support her in that ordeal of what is about to happen and rock in that part of her world.
Q) You are a part of social media. Have you been enjoying that instant fan feedback you have been receiving?
A) It’s been wonderful The “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” fans are fantastic! They love to live tweet with us every Monday night, even on the west coast at 5pm from the east coast to the west. So, for the whole three hours we get to interact and have a live conversation. It’s been so much fun to see the shows live with them and be surprised. Because even if we’re in one scene, it doesn’t mean that we’ve gotten to see the new episode. So, it’s been about six weeks since we’d shot the scene so we get to see it in full excitement. It’s been really fun to have those conversations and also have a meme created about me or a gif. So, that’s been really, really fun. It’s fun to retweet and we had a really fun time to see that someone got a “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” tattoo on their arm. They sent it to Rachel and she sent it to us. You know we were all on the floor dying from that!
Q) What have been some favorite scenes to film for the show?
A) Some of my most memorable moments are the moments I have with Rebecca and Valencia have together. The scene of us on the couch was one of our first times on set that we were able to work together instead of in the audition room. That was a treat because she is not only a fierce lady boss (writer/producer/creator) she is also a fantastic actress to work alongside, work with and improvise with. Success comes with the top with who is in charge and she is on the set leading the charge and the collaboration. So, we are able to create new scenes in the script that she and the writers are writing. That was a really special moment for me that Valencia was becoming a person in Rebecca’s world and we were able to be friends for a moment. That was really near and dear to my heart. There are other scenes coming up where we get to talk again and I really, really love those moments and I hope there are more.
Q) What do you think it is about the show that has made it such a hit?
A) I feel “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” really connects with everyone’s acceptance of being their actual self. Whether it be crazy (no pun intended) or feeling the moment you want to actually have in your life is insane and probably wouldn’t do. Rebecca leads that moment for you and it also helps you relate to the fact that what you think in your world is crazy is actually ok and relatable because everyone is doing it. You are not the only crazy one in the bunch. I love that it is so surprising. Every minute and episode has so many surprises that everyone is always on their feet laughing and crying at the same time because not only have they been there before, but they know why they went there in their crazy situation. I love how it spins feminism, romantic comedy and the musical arts of the episode of what is happening in real life. Rachel and Aline [Brosh McKenna] have done a stellar job of expressing that in a way everyone can relate to. It’s been an honor to be a part of that.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and the show?
A) What I would like to say to the fans and the Valencia fans is without them and without you there would be no “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” There would be no excitement and something to look forward to every Monday night. We really take heart that fans are really supportive of something so brand new and doesn’t have the typical introduction of a new TV show. We are really, really being authentic and organized with what we are creating. We love that everyone live tweets with us and we hope more do because it is really, really fun. We appreciate the fan art and the love for all we are creating on this show. We look forward to seeing what is going to happen next with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.