The character of Carmen was originally described to Limon as â€œandrogynousâ€, and she was initially told she was â€œtoo beautifulâ€ for the part. She was able to win an audition despite her â€œdisadvantageâ€ and tested for the part with the actor who would have played her love interest, Kate Moennig (Shane).
Limon recalls, â€œI had to audition the scene where she says, â€˜I have an idea. Let’s play a game.’ I’m sitting on Kate’s lap. In the rehearsal I said to her, â€˜Okay, what can I do? Can I kiss you?’ she said, â€˜You can do whatever you want.’
“So in the audition, I whisper something in her ear in Spanish. Something a bit vulgar, you know, dirty. She was like, â€˜Whoa!’ Kate got totally thrown off. So when I was sitting in her lap in the audition, when the whole network was there, I had pins on my pants and she had this meshy sweater. My pins got stuck to her sweater and I couldn’t unstick myself from her in the middle of my reading!” She laughs, “So we’re just looking at each other saying, â€˜Okay!’ and trying to keep going and not let this distract us but it was really funny.â€
Although she didn’t land the role, she would later be surprised to hear Sarah Shahi’s Carmen utter to Moennig’s Shane the flirty words (â€œQuiero lamer te hasta que te vengas en mi boca mil veces.â€) Limon had come up with in her own audition.
Limon is a good sport about the borrowed lines, but she admits disappointment with how the guidelines for casting the part changed, and they way in which the Carmen storyline evolved.
Limon remembers, â€œ[the L Word casting people]They said â€˜She must be Latin and she must be fluent.’ And Carmen is not Latin, and she doesn’t speak Spanish. And her Spanish when she speaks it on the showâ€”I mean I love the character and I think she’s hot and does a good jobâ€”but honestly, her Spanish is not the best.”
“The whole family is so stereotypical. I have hundreds of Mexican family and friends hereâ€”I mean I’m Mexican, I was born in Mexico, you know? I have tons of family there, tons of family here, all over–Las Vegas, Oklahoma, Texas—and none of my family is like that, or my friends’ families. That’s just soâ€¦wow, are you kidding me? I was really disappointed.â€
In the last couple of years, Limon had grown increasingly disheartened by the â€œHollywood gameâ€ that she and most actors are required to play if they want to work on a regular basis. In 2005, on the day before a big audition for a television series regular role, she tried to walk away from the business altogether.
Limon says of her epiphany, â€œI felt that everything connected to that audition was not who I wanted to be and not the game I wanted to play. It just felt like it was such a faÃ§ade and so political and so not about what we all strive for. It wasn’t about the art or the acting. And I just thought, you know, that’s not who I want to be, I can’t. And that was the day I decided.â€ She severed ties with her agent and manager and considered herself finished with acting. This gave her the freedom to explore another interest, cooking.
â€œThe acting thing, the whole business, drained me. I hated auditioning, and I didn’t have that passion that I’d had for it at one point. So suddenly I found something else that I had this passion for and I was so excited about. So before you know it, I’m enrolling in culinary school.â€ She will start her culinary training this Spring at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena.
But as fate would have it, Limon has been drawn back to acting. While completing her Associate’s degree, she took a required Introduction to Theatre course and found her love for the craft rekindled. She has continued to do voiceover work, and is set to begin shooting an independent Spanish-language film, Maquillaje, in June. Limon said, â€œThe film is great so I’ll get to start working again on something I love. The people are involved out of pure love.â€
The coming year for Limon is already packed tight with new travels, projects and dreams. She says, â€œI’ll be doing my first cycle of culinary school, then right after that I’ll go to the Cannes Film Festival, then go to the Buffy convention in Amsterdam, come back and shoot the film, and then two weeks later I go to the second cycle of culinary schoolâ€¦My friends always tell me, â€˜You always go after what you can’t have. You like a challenge.’ And I guess I do.â€
Read our interview with Iyari Limon in its entirety here.