Last week, I had the opportunity to chat with Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty, Devious Maids) to discuss her role as Hailey, Kay’s new girlfriend, on NBC’s Marry Me. A veteran actor of both stage and screen, Ana has had many roles, yet the role of Hailey offers its own set of challenges and opportunities for growth.
“Hailey is a real departure for me and I was so thankful that the writers at Marry Me thought of me for a role like this, because it’s not something that I usually get a chance to do,” Ana said. “I’ve never thought of myself as an improv person, and the cast of Marry Me is literally the best improvers in the country, so when I was on set, I would have to really bite my lip to keep from laughing and ruining the scene. That’s a real departure because with Betty and Devious, they’re dramadies. So there’s some comedy in it, but it’s mostly drama. So I’ve never really gotten the chance to work the funny bone.”
Ana as Hilda on “Ugly Betty”
Ana had also never played a queer character before, but the only apprehension she had about playing Hailey, whom Ana believes identifies as a lesbian, was due to her desire to create a character that was fully formed and well drawn.
“It made me nervous only in the sense that I didn’t want to do any disservice. I didn’t want to be a caricature of something, “ Ana said. “I was nervous, but so excited. No one has ever given me the opportunity to play a character like this. I just wanted to do the best job possible.”
While Hilda from Ugly Betty was really “street smart, sassy and outspoken” and Marisol from Devious Maids is more “reserved, and much more serious,” Ana sees Hailey as an edgy, rocker, artist-type who isn’t accustomed to having close friends as present in her life as Kay does. Kay’s relationship with Gil and Dennah stirs up some drama in future episodes when they interrupt the couple during some intimate moments.
According to Ana, there are quite a few of those intimate moments yet to air.
“Tymberlee was busting on the writers. She’s like, ‘You have these other two gay characters who are married’—you know, the dads—’and in however many episodes, they’ve only kissed once. Meanwhile, Ana has been on three episodes and we kiss every single episode. What are you guys trying to get at here?’” Ana laughs.
Not that Ana is complaining. Although she’s had never kissed a woman on screen, her easy rapport with Hill makes it easy. The two had to jump right into the storyline without much back story as to how their two characters met and fell in love, but instead of spending time on filling in those blanks, they concentrated on getting to know each other as Ana and Tymberlee and let the closeness they developed as new friends spill over into the portrayal of their characters.
“Working with Tymberlee is a revelation. She’s so kind. She’s so generous. She’s so gorgeous,” Ana gushed. ”So it’s actually fun for me to just go there and be really free. The whole cast, but specifically Tymberlee, were so open and welcoming. I got really lucky that she was the actress playing opposite of me.”
Ana is lucky in another way as well. “And I’ll tell you what, she’s a very good kisser,” she added with a giggle.
When I teased Ana about being the first one to initiate a kiss during rehearsal, she admitted that she enjoyed taking control of the situation. “It was kind of sexy and kind of sweet. And intimate. And actually, quite lovely. It’s interesting because Kay’s character is so, kind of like, ballsy and bawdy, so it was so cute to see that sweetness there.”
There is no indication as to how long the relationship between Kay and Hailey will last but both Tymberlee and Ana are hoping that Hailey will return for Season 2. In the meantime, you can catch Ana as Marisol in Devious Maids on Lifetime.
Ana as Marisol on “Devious Maids”
Although Ana isn’t sure when Season 3 of Devious Maids will air (June, maybe?), she is excited to work with another AfterEllen favorite, Naya Rivera. Rivera will play Bianca, a new maid who is placed with Marisol’s previous employers, the Staffords. However, Bianca discovers that this seemingly ideal family is hiding a huge secret of their own.
“I can’t believe how lucky we got. When I heard the news, I was jumping up and down,” Ana said. “She’s going to be such a great addition.”
Until then, I’m looking forward to more Kailey scenes in tomorrow’s episode of Marry Me when Kay enlists Jake’s help in planning a special Valentine’s Day celebration for Hailey. I have high hopes that this couple both in terms of chemistry and storyline. If the kind and respectful relationship between the two actors playing Kay and Hailey is any indication, these two women are going to make a great match.