If you’ve been watching FX’s The Bridge, you may have been surprised to hear Adriana Perez quietly come out on episode three when she tells her coworker she isn’t interested in dating guys. The young reporter, played by Emily Rios, was inspired by a real life story executive producer Meredith Stiehm heard a long time ago, and knew she wanted to tell.
“It stayed with me for years,” Stiehm said during a FX TCA day. “I just thought it was so interesting that it was this quiet positive thing. It just fit here. This was a Mexican woman. In that culture, she’s not a Los Angeles woman. She’s like ‘I would have been pregnant at 19. At 14 I would have been on welfare. I’d just would have had what all my sisters have.’ And the reason was, I wasn’t sleeping with boys.”
The major story at The Bridge‘s center is about a serial killer committing murders on both sides of the border. Adriana is covering the investigation that Det. Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and Det. Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir) are working on, Sonya from the American side while Marco is from Mexico.
Meredith said that she really loved Emily Rios as an actress and finds her role pivotal in a way that it really didn’t have to be.
“Well so she’s a reporter at the El Paso Times, which is actually a good character to use when you’re telling these stories because her job is to go out and investigate and find out new things happening in the city and everything,” Stiehm siad. “She could have very much been just a tangential character servicing the Daniel Frye character more but we love her and she’s got this sort of quiet charisma that I think is really effective. And I wanted to tell a story of a lesbian of that culture because it’s particularly difficult for gay men and women of that culture. It’s not accepted. It’s a more difficult thing in the culture than others so that interested me.”
Emily Rios has played a lesbian before on TNT’s dramedy Men of a Certain Age. On The Bridge, she largely interacts with Matthew Lillard‘s Daniel Frye, her co-worker at the Times who is somehow involved with some of the murders happening on the the American/Mexican border of El Paso and Juarez.
One of the show’s stars is Diane Kruger, who played a gayish role herself recently in the film Farewell, My Queen. Diane plays Sonya, a detective trying to track down the murderer while dealing with Aspergers and the intertwined storylines of Annabeth Gish‘s Charlotte (who is finding out her late husband had a lot of secrets involving crossing the border) and that of Adrianna and Daniel’s as they pursue leads on the murder for their own stories.
“We just started the finale so she has a very prominent role moving forward,” Diane said of Adrianna. “I think people really respond to her integrity – her being a lesbian. That’s something really refreshing that she’s very gentle. Often I find the stereotype of the lesbian girl on the show is very butch, you know, which I don’t really appreciate as a woman either, so I think she’s doing excellent job and if we are lucky enough to get a second season she will definitely be a part of the team.”
There are currently several women of color playing lesbian and bisexual characters on television, so Adrianna is in great company. Perhaps what will be different about her specific story is that her living on the Mexican/American border will have different implications for her life and her sexuality than it does for characters who live in the fictional towns of Rosewood, Pennsylvania or Lima, Ohio. The Bridge is also firmly a drama, coming from one of the executive producers of Homeland, and although she is part of an ensemble and is recurring, she plays a large piece of the huge puzzle that producers say will be wrapped up even before the series end.
But with the success of the show it appears a renewal is on the horizon and hopefully Adrianna’s story will be a bigger part of episodes to come. There are a lot of possibilities to have conversations about things like LGBT immigration, homophobia in Mexican culture and other related cultural differences. Luckily Emily Rios has the chops to carry them.
The Bridge airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX