The Eiza Effect
Transforming with the power of Bulgari jewelry, Mexican television star and action movie heroine Eiza González enters the latest chapter of her career
Transforming with the power of Bulgari jewelry, Mexican television star and action movie heroine Eiza González enters the latest chapter of her career
With more than seven million Instagram followers and a burgeoning cinema presence (having worked with the likes of Lily James, Jamie Foxx, Dwayne Johnson, and Jason Statham, just to name a few!), it’s hard to have not heard of Eiza González. Having entered the world of acting when she was just a teenager, González was catapulted into superstardom when she made her grand debut as the lead in Televisa’s teen musical telenovela, Lola: érase una vez. 224 episodes later, a star truly was born. After dazzling Latin audiences globally with her quick-witted charm and mesmerizing allure, she was ready to take on Hollywood—quickly landing lead roles in shows and films like From Dusk till Dawn: The Series, Baby Driver, and even Fast & Furious spin-off Hobbs & Shaw. As the screen chameleon’s acting chops blossomed before the world’s eyes, opportunities in fashion and beauty soon appeared, as Bulgari, the Italian luxury jeweler, tapped González as their first Latin-American brand ambassador. And now, as the actress celebrates 15 years in the industry and looks forward to an abundance of exciting, new projects in the works for her fans to enjoy, V's Kevin Ponce catches up with González to discuss the trajectory of her wide-spanning career, and why Latin representation is crucial, perhaps now more than ever before.
V Magazine: Where in the world are you now, Eiza?
Eiza González: I am currently in London, but I recently moved to New York last year. I really didn’t get the chance to fully experience it yet but I love it. I went to school in New York—I went to the [Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute]—it’s my first love.
V: I always love hearing that! How did you like the photo shoot?
EG: I’m super excited [about it]! I love when I get the chance to collaborate with people who are just really talented. I’ve always wanted to work with V Magazine for a very long time, so I was happy to be shooting for you because it’s very rare [that] I find people who understand how to push me to a different place. Especially as a Latin woman, there’s a predisposed idea [of us], but I feel like the times are changing and so is fashion and people are becoming a bit more ballsy and pushing boundaries—but V has been doing it for a very long time. I called Jack [Bridgland] the day before and I was like, “I really wanna bleach my hair and eyebrows, and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, really?’ and even on the day of, they were on the fence, [but] I was like, ‘Let’s just do it. It’s gonna be so cool!’”
V: Our jaws quite literally dropped—it’s definitely another side of you that your fans and viewers haven’t fully seen over the course of your work from the last 15 years.
EG: You know, I’ve [had] many lives—I’ve been a child star, I’ve been a pop star, I’ve been a soap opera actress, I’ve been a Nickelodeon girl, and I’ve transitioned [in my career] to the American market. I’ve never really liked to define myself as one thing specifically, especially because I started [my career] in the early 2000s in a country that puts you in a specific box for a very long time.
V: It's so interesting because obviously, I was a little bit familiar with you since my family is Mexican and I feel like a lot of my relatives grew up watching you on TV in your earlier shows. Fast forward to now, where a lot of us watch you because of the Western boom that you brought to your career. So from having made it in Mexico to experiencing a career rebirth in the states, what do you think has been the main driving force in guiding your career path to where you’ve been?
EG: Since I was really young, no one was really crossing over besides Salma [Hayek] and she did it way before I even started working. But I [was] always guided by passion. That's something that I've always wanted to be very transparent about, now being in the international market, is [that] I never had Hollywood as a goal–I was just always inspired by art. I was always pushing myself a bit further, especially [since I] grew up in a country like Mexico which conditioned me [in what] I couldn't do as a woman. I lived my life in that space and I had a mother that was incredibly supportive in the sense of being free-spirited and [encouraging] with who I wanted to be versus me in this box of [acting] as a lady. I always was sort of a citizen of the world because my mom let me leave Mexico at the age of 15 and I went to New York and then Argentina for almost three years. I’ve sort of been living around the world for as long as I've known, and I think that I was really lucky. I [went to] a school where there were a lot of international kids from all around the world so I grew up with a lot of different cultures. I was really influenced and fascinated by the world so my transition [to the western market] wasn't as hard when it comes to cultural adaptation. I think what shocked me was discovering the discrimination around the world. I think that was hard to digest because of the way I lived my life in Mexico–we were all one. Going to other places in the world and just being put in a box [based on race], I never had experienced that before. I just learned how to navigate it [and] not let it affect me, but empower me. I don't visualize myself in that way and I don't approach my art that way but, there is discrimination around the world. There are people that like to peg you into stereotypes. That has been the interesting part of being a citizen of the world.
V: It’s interesting that you bring up discrimination. Especially being a Latin woman in any sort of industry, you’re gonna be facing the odds against you. Did you ever feel that the hardships were even that much tougher when you entered the Western market? Or that the system was setting you up for failure?
EG: A hundred percent. I was naive [when] I moved [to the US] right after my last soap opera. I was full of excitement and had the dream in my back pocket and [then] it was all sort of shocking. I had already experienced [what it was like for] a woman trying to make it in a male-dominated industry for many years, at the very tender age of 14. By the time I moved to America, I just walked in and thought “Oh, those are just things that people say to make a point when they have power” but it was a very different time. I moved to the US in 2012 and the Me Too movement hadn't happened yet, and Black Lives Matter either. There wasn't such an awakening of understanding [women and] minorities so it was definitely tough throughout my career. So [now], I really let my craft speak for itself, but it is hard. You are going on an uphill battle for sure, and it takes a lot of pushing and pulling and I've learned with time to feel more confident in taking up space. I'm getting to a place where I feel okay saying when something doesn't feel right in my gut or I don't feel acknowledged or respected. That's when I respect people like Salma Hayek because you think ‘Oh, you really were a trailblazer when there was nothing for you.’ That's why it's important to have mentorship too—it's important to support your own people because it's a really challenging business, especially for minorities, and I do believe the Latin woman really struggles in a business like that because English is [usually] our second language, but there's a lot of stereotypes of the Latin woman. We're probably one of the most stereotyped humans on planet Earth and I think that it's been really hard for us to deconstruct it and reeducate people.
V: Absolutely. Did you ever have a mentor in your life or were you your own support system?
EG: I was my own support system, and that's something that I really find a shame. I feel like it's part of the systemic issue of the business because there are so few seats for people like us, that its created this mentality where we can't share with others because they'll take from us. It's something that people don't like to talk about and try to pretend or ignore. But I don't think it's an us problem, I think it's a systemic way that has been set up for us. If I'm being very transparent, I also understand why it's not so easy. I can only talk about my personal experience, but I had to sacrifice a lot, and when you have to sort of burn yourself to the ground in order to get seen or heard, and you see other people have it easy, it's hard to not have resentment towards them. And you're Latina, so you know that's sort of our cultural mentality.
V: Oh a thousand percent!
EG: I think it's a multitude of things, but it's like you need to learn the tough way. I think that I felt for a very long time that I had to take up all this space or else I wouldn't succeed. Inherently, the setup for women, in general, is this competition against each other by default, no matter what your ethnicity is–add a layer of being the 0.5% of people in this industry and then everyone's killing for a job. It doesn't allow us to bond in a way that could be more proactive. So I'm really grateful for other women that are making an active effort in my business. I'm moving towards a place where my platform's becoming a bit bigger and I wanna be able to use that and bring more opportunity to my people and the talented female cinematographers, writers, and actresses that we have in our country. I don't want to wait forever, I want to start soon because then we can take up so much space that no one can say no to us. With the little power that I have, I will try my best to do so.
V: Exactly. I’m always saying the same thing when it comes to my industry–and asking why we’re not more of a commonality. And when it comes to Hollywood cinema and television, the industry that you partake in, do you feel that the Latin representation is getting to a place that is growing for the better? Or is it still stagnant in the way it operates?
EG: It's definitely growing. It'd be irrational of me to say that it hasn't. I think that the movements and standpoints that a lot of people have taken, including the bravery of other actors, have helped us to open and craft a conversation [for] people to become more aware of these issues. I'm not one to let the industry determine me–I've always been a fighter. It's just important to speak up, [and think] ‘how can I be proactive toward changing someone's mind and not letting predisposed ideas or people [get in the way?] There's this sort of thing that happens in [cinema]–whatever role breaks you into the industry, it will determine what [roles] you get and what kind of actor you're being taken and addressed as–and that's the funny thing. We are all at the mercy of a job. Everyone is just hoping for one opportunity that allows you to be seen. That is sometimes both a blessing and a curse. For the longest time, people just saw me as just a bombshell because I starred in certain roles because of the time we were in. I think that if I would've broken into the industry today, people would have a completely different point of view of me, but it's just what happened to me at that moment so I try to not let it affect me emotionally and just understand that that’s part of the business. A perfect example is this photoshoot–how can I broadcast myself in a different light that no one has let me do? I try to express it throughout my art. Whether on a film or a photoshoot or what I’m posting, it's important. I'm a millennial so I'm more old school where I'm still adjusting to the times and learning to be comfortable with taking up space. That's what I really admire about the Gen Z generation–they are who they are and it's such a beautiful thing to see because I didn't have that when I was their age.
V: These Gen Z kids don’t give a fuck–it’s quite powerful.
EG: I need to catch up because I come from a more domesticated mentality, where this is what ladies do and don’t do–I'm slowly shedding those things off of me. I'm finally getting to a place in my career where I feel really comfortable with what I'm doing.
V: Growth takes time! And if I'm not mistaken, it’s the 15th-anniversary of your career.
EG: Which is outrageous!
V: And it really all started when you were just a kid, transitioning professionally and personally from one era to another. Within those 15 years, what are some lessons you’ve learned that impacted you the most?
EG: It's really strange because to me, I perfectly remember my first few auditions for my first job ever and how terrified I was and how terrified I still am. And that's the thing–when am I gonna learn! I've done this for years–why am I still terrified? I heard Priyanka [Chopra] in an interview [recently], where she was talking about some job, I think it was for The Matrix [Resurrections], and she [said how she] was incredibly nervous and didn't want to fuck it up. She looked at herself in the mirror, and then [thought] ‘I've done over 50 movies in Bollywood–why am I doubting myself?’
V: Neither you nor Priyanka should be afraid of anything!
EG: That's where the dimensions of what people's image of you is versus the way you see yourself [come in]–we are equally as insecure, scared, and terrified, and most actors are, even though they won't accept it. Everyone likes to sell this empowered image of themselves, which I understand. But I think that ultimately we are all always trying to be better versions of ourselves [but] I still get nervous and approach things like a child. I think that my biggest lesson in that has been to be kind with myself. I'm very tough on myself because I just put really high expectations on me all the time. Whether that's work, language, or performance–I’m a perfectionist. What I'm learning is that I'm my best is when I'm vulnerable and open, and when I let someone's opinion influence me–that’s when I feel the most inspired. If someone has a better opinion, even though I have a clear thought of what I want, I also take it in and let it influence me, learn from the energy around it, and be open. [Those are] all things that have really helped me to grow in my career when I'm in that mental space and not self-conscious. If I get a note from a director or even a castmate, I'm flowing in the best way possible and I would recommend that to a lot of people because inherently, we're all terrified of failure. And this industry is will forever reiterate failure on you. So if you are already letting that [in], and then on top of that, [letting] failure dictate your art, then there's no expansion–there's no room for growth. You have to fail. You have to be open to being redirected and always learning,
V: Being a forever student is sometimes the best approach to life. I feel like opportunities for growth, whether that is professional or even just personal, are the lessons that stick with you. The best method is to let it affect you in the best way, sometimes the worst way, but whatever happens, it will bring a lesson or two. Everyone should be lucky to learn a lesson or two in life.
EG: I think that the most dangerous place to sit is in a righteous place. And we see it, especially with our world leaders right now, more than ever. It’s so dangerous, not to only you but to society, and I think that it’s just such a poor way of living and such a disservice to yourself.
V: And after the 15 years that you’ve been in the industry, you’re not showing signs of slowing down any time soon. And with a few new projects that you have coming up, such as the new movie Ambulance, I want to discuss the impact that roles have on you nowadays. What was it about the role of Cam, especially after this milestone that you’ve just had, that heralds importance for you?
EG: I would say Cam is my most important role yet, because of my personal experience [going] through the character, and what Cam and movie for me stand for. It's my first big female lead role [that] I’ve never done. If I separate Eiza, the teenager who dreamt of doing movies, and the fact that I'm in a film with Jake Gyllenhaal, who I grew up looking up to my entire life, and with Michael Bay being such a staple director, it’s all sort of surreal. When this role came to my life, it was in the middle of the pandemic and I would play an EMT. They sent me the script to read, I opened 10 pages and I closed it, [because] I was terrified. I was like ‘who do I think I am that I'm gonna bring to life a first-line responder in the middle of a pandemic?’ I was out of my mind, [thinking] people are gonna think I'm a bimbo, running around in a costume. I said to my agents, ‘no way’ and they [told me to] think about it, and when I was in New York, I grabbed the script again and I just fell in love with her. I thought ‘wow, Michael Bay is doing a movie where the woman is so dynamic.’ I love Michael, but I had never seen him do a female role this way before and I was curious about that.
V: Was there anything in particular about Cam that resonated deeply with you?
EG: The way that Chris Fedak, who wrote the script, [portrayed] Cam was so real. She was jaded, which is something I can relate to, from a business that can be really tough on women, and from also seeing death left and right. She was a real multi-dimensional woman where life happens in a minute to her. [The story] allows her to have a rebirth of self and [determine] who she wants to be and reintroduce feeling alive on the job that she has chosen to do. I was fucking shitting my pants, but I just knew I needed to do it because I just really felt the obligation [to do so]. I lost family members to COVID-19 and I felt like it was the one thing that I really wanted to give back to frontline responders. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn't be here. I also felt like a Latin woman playing in an EMT who is the best at her job was a powerful move and I had to do it. Ambulance is a character film disguised as an action movie. It's really about the dynamic between three complicated people when society fails you and the country sort of turns their back on you. It is such an interesting conversation about what defines the American dream too. The process [of Cam] for me was insane because I also wanted to be perfect at it. I got my ass ready to study, I legit felt like I was going to medical school. I was studying the script, but I was also really studying what it was like to be an EMT.
V: What did that EMT research look like?
EG: [It was about] what [the job] looked like, how they live, how they breathe. I would park outside of Cedars Sinai and I would watch them come in and out from the ER and analyze them talk. We had an EMT on set, Danny, who inspired my role. I talked to medics, nurses, surgeons, learned the [medical] lingo and dialogue, how they actually would say it. I just prepped myself for four months and rode on ambulances, just [experiecing] the whole thing. It was really an incredible role–I’ve learned so much from her. I think that her perseverance and grit, and having the stomach to go for things is what I share with her. I hope that people feel something when they see what she does and how she sacrificed her life–that's how much admiration and respect I have for frontline responders and it's my little love letter for them. I hope that I do them justice.
V: Anyone in the profession of giving their lives to help the public is something that I think should always be respected and spotlighted. I think everyone's gonna be excited to see the film, especially now that we're sort of easing our way out of this societal slumber.
EG: That [was one of the] projects I'm excited about. I’m doing a TV show right now with [David] Benioff and [D.B.] Weiss, who created Game of Thrones. It's based on this book called The Three-Body Problem and it's a massive Chinese sci-fi novel about the possibility of what actually would happen if we had real connection with [extraterrestial] life. I hadn't done television since my first job in America, which was with Robert Rodriguez, so [it’s been] 10 years. My intentions are to play roles that completely transform me into different things. I just love the challenge of learning a lot of things– the amount of scientific information that I've learned doing this project is incredible. I did another show called Extrapolation, in which I got to work with Marion Cotillard and Forest Whitaker. I've had the chance after COVID where I just really felt like I wanted to do things that were not [on the] safe side, just taking risks and doing things that were gonna force people into a headlock of looking at me differently and pushing the boundaries.
V: I like that you're reintroducing yourself a bit by embodying these characters. Who knows what you’ll do next in the coming years–you might just be Dr. Gonzalez one day.
EG: That's the other beauty about this business–nothing has to be forever. I think that ultimately I've sort of ran away from the fear of missing out that sometimes this business creates–where being the talk of the town all the time [is desirable]. I'm just getting more comfortable with being in silence and with myself. I really wanna do theater next. Especially now that I'm living in London and going to the theater all the time, it just reminds me [of when] I started as a theater girl. I'm just sort of taking it one day at a time and I have no rush–I just want to do things that make me happy. I feel so inspired by seeing women like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Hall, and all these women taking the reins of their careers and doing what makes them happy and taking risks.
V: For sure. I think women today are definitely getting a rebirth, a sort of restart, and coming to self in a whole new way. That’s what's exciting about watching your career flourish and seeing your transition from one era to another and how it's adapting to today. I think you should definitely do theater and London might be the best place to do so.
EG: You know, Paul Bentley is doing the Andy Warhol play, Taron Egerton is doing [Cock], and Saoirse Ronan is doing [The Tragedy of Macbeth], and Jodie Comer is starting [Prima Facie]. It's just incredible. The theater is just magical and allows you to be free as an actor and I really want to focus on that. I also want to start flexing my other chops, like directing. It's really inspiring to talk to other directors that [have impacted] you. You know, this industry is designed to make us feel like we have to be in the spotlight all the time and it's okay not to be. I've learned that I’d rather have people not think that I'm boring and know too much about me and I think that's really powerful–learning how to balance it all and do your own thing [while] growing a platform in order to allow more opportunities for other people.
V: I would love to see what directing looks like from you.
EG: I'm really taking it seriously. So it'll probably be sooner than, rather than later, for sure.
V: Would you prefer to direct projects in the states or back home in Mexico?
EG: I don’t really know. I think that I'm actively looking for stuff and educating myself. I’m also producing a movie about this mega movie star in Mexico, Maria Felix. The process of producing has been incredible. It's interesting because as an actor, you're reading scripts and waiting for a phone call for an audition. When I’m in the producer seat, I'm watching movies from Argentina, Columbia, Chile, and Peru, discovering directors, DPs, and writers, and it's just unbelievable to discover so much talent around the globe. When you've tasted a bit of that, it's really hard to be like ‘okay, let me go back to being at the mercy of a business.’ It's too dynamic for us to step away from. So I really wanna encourage women to take risks by going for it, doing it all, and being okay with failing and trying again–that's part of discovering what your journey is like.
V: Exactly. If there's anything I think society knows for sure, especially with the way women have evolved over the years, we can do it all.
EG: Totally! You've just gotta push and shove to get that seat at the table because you are capacitated to be in that seat–that's for sure.