Tomás Romero: Thanks for chatting with me today. So, I read somewhere that when you were younger you wanted to be a marine biologist? Is that true?
Lana Parrilla: Partly. I actually wanted to be a fish. [laughs] I’ve always loved the ocean and when I was very young, I wanted to be a fish and later on, a marine biologist as well. I’ve also always loved being in the spotlight, so, being an actress and entertainer came very naturally to me as well. I grew up in a very sort of eccentric family, surrounded by artists and entertainers, everyone was a little out there, you know, in the very best ways. So, starting at the age of three, I’d put on fashion shows, recite poetry, sing and dance. We were always making home videos, putting on skits, shows and performing for each other. But as I got older, like around five, I really took a liking to the ocean, so, we were always going to the beach.
TR: Nice, which beach?
LP: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. So, we’d go to Coney Island, Brighton Beach or Jones Beach and I would spend all my time in the ocean. You could never get me out of the water. I would come out pruned! The only time I’d ever get out was to eat a salami and cheese sandwich, and then I’d hurry back in. I remember how much I hated the 20-minute period after you ate, where you had to wait to swim again so you didn’t get cramps. I was always like: ‘I don’t care. I’m a fish!’
TR: Ha! That’s awesome.
LP: When I got a little older, marine biology was something I wanted to explore because I was super interested in ocean life. Part of me still wishes I would have moved in that direction because I would have been literally living on the ocean, which would have been a really beautiful existence. So, yeah, for me, it was always acting and marine biology, which couldn’t be more opposite. But, hey, I’m a complex woman with a lot of interests.
TR: Sounds like it. Talk to me about that first ‘aha moment,’ when you realized acting is what you were supposed to be doing. It sounds like it may have come to you at a very young age.
LP: Yes. Acting was something I always knew I wanted to do. I have an aunt, Candice Azzara, who is an actress. She did tons of Broadway, tons of movies and television. So, she’s been a huge influence of mine. I always looked up to her. She was gorgeous, very glamorous and she had this beautiful elegance about her. She still does! But she really taught me the craft of acting. As a little girl you’re not really thinking about craft, you’re thinking about just performing and making people laugh and how good that feels.
But when I was about 12 years old my aunt really instilled in me the idea that learning your craft is everything. Acting isn’t about just getting out there and being in a movie or being on stage or being famous. That stuff is fun too, but none of it really matters without craft. So, I started getting really serious about my craft and taking classes at 12, and I’m still a huge advocate for continuing your education and always staying in class. It’s something I still do today. When there are acting classes available, I go!
TR: With the pandemic and the lockdown, the past year and a half have been pretty rough on everyone. What did you do to get through the darker times? What kept you grounded when the world went wonky?
LP: Quiet time and meditation. My best girlfriend and I also did a lot of sound healings, with sound bowls, over Instagram Live. You know, just to provide some sort of solace and comfort for people who were feeling really isolated and confused and scared. It was a way to help heal other people, but also heal ourselves in the process. Sound healing is a very meditative experience. There’s a vibration that you feel in your whole body when you’re playing that instrument. And the sound it makes releases any tension or like, stuck energy, in your body. So, we would do that quite a bit.
We would also cook all the time! I’ve always loved cooking but I’d never made bread before. So that was fun. Learning how to bake was amazing. I also spent a lot of time during lockdown just looking for new ways to stay creative, you know? I recorded a song; I started a clothing line. I’m actually wearing one of the shirts right now.
TR: You play another complicated woman on your new Paramount+ show, Why Women Kill. What’s this new one about?
LP: Why Women Kill is set in 1949 and the show explores, in a darkly funny way, what it means to be beautiful, the facades people present to the world and the lengths that people go to live up to what society deems as desirable. It’s really interesting because I feel like our showrunner, [Desperate Housewives creator] Marc Cherry, is tapping into something that is so timeless and universal. I mean, so often we compare ourselves to society’s ideas of perfection. You know, this is beautiful. This is how people should look. This is how people should dress. I think it’s a thing that all of us have struggled with at some point. Especially today when you’re constantly being fed these images on social media. It’s like, Oh, this person looks so happy. How come I don’t get to do that? How come I’m not that happy? But we don’t ever really know what’s going on behind closed doors with any of these people.For more from our cover celebrity, Lana Parrilla, check out our beautiful magazine here