One place that actress Marisa Ramirez did not expect to see girls making out with each other was the bathroom at the all-girls school she attended in Alhambra, California. But because she already had many gay people in her family and amongst friends, the budding model/actress wasn’t phased a bit when she did.
"There was never anything in my head to ever question it,” she said. “It was always accepted and I was pretty much always exposed to gay people at a young age and I never had a problem with it.”
Ramirez, all grown up now, is starring in the new Fox series, Mental, co-starring Annabella Sciorra, Chris Vance and Nicholas Gonzalez. Ramirez plays Dr. Chloe Artis, an out lesbian doctor working on the psychiatric floor of an L.A. hospital. She recently talked to AfterEllen.com about playing gay in her new role, who she’d like to see play her on-screen lover and how her work in daytime (playing an African American woman) prepped her for her new primetime role.
Ramirez got started early in the entertainment industry, going to modeling and acting auditions as a teenager — much to the chagrin of her high school.
“They didn’t see it as a sort of work-experience program," she recalled. "I was making a lot of money at 15-16 years old, but they didn’t recognize it because it didn’t have anything to do with school and kind of being smart and my school was a college preparatory school.”
Ramirez would eventually land a job on General Hospital but the fact that looks can be deceiving worked in her favor. “I had braids because I had just gotten back from Cancun and I just didn’t want to deal with my hair and I had long braided extensions and I was really dark," she explained. "I was hired as an African American character (Gia Campbell) and I played her for almost 3 yrs. People in the grocery store would come up to me and say “Hey, Sister!” They thought I was black, too,”
Ramirez, who is Mexican, Irish and American Indian, quickly found that daytime dramas were a great place to work not only in terms of the exposure but also for your own personal mental capacity.
“I was doing maybe thirteen scenes a day with so much material,” she said, “but it gets your brain working so much quicker than, say, starting out on a prime time show because you are able to take in so much more material and give off so much more material in a short period of time.”
One of the reasons that actors have to be so sharp is the quick shooting schedules that daytime soaps employ to keep costs down.
According to Ramirez, “a lot of times on soaps it’s one take and you’re out and you’re done and you don’t go back. It teaches you to be prepared for that one take and prepared me in a way that I don’t drop a line and I pretty much remember everything.”
Now, when she shows up to play Chloe on Mental, Ramirez is “always ready, always prepared, always right there, my ears and eyes open and ready to go. I think a lot of people who have been trained by prime time shows there’s a bit of a pace issue. I’m all abut let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it!”