Queens’ Nadine Velazquez on Valeria Mendez’s complicated evolution
When we look at the music industry today, we are often shown the expensive clothes, the glamorous jewelry, the houses way too big for one person to live in, and the big sums of money that one person average will probably never win in his lifetime. But who is the artist without material things? stripped of stylists, entourage and adoring fans? Who is the person who removes makeup and goes to bed alone?
On ABC’s hit show queens, this is the life of Valeria “Buter Pecan” Mendez, a Puerto Rican rapper part of the Queens dynasty, who welcomes fame, entourage, money and personality who screams “look at my life, I have everything “. However, after leaving Queens, Valeria spent her life seeking more fame and success (even if she had to poison her co-star’s drink) in hopes of escaping a past filled with abandonment. Even with her daytime chat scandal behind her and with the success of the Queens reunion, Valeria’s trauma and vulnerability quickly caught up with her in the form of a con artist posing as her mother, the attempted murder of her best friend Briana and learning her real mother died years ago.
Instead of facing and dealing with her pain, Valeria found escape through Thomas, a man she didn’t know but quickly married on a whim. Was it passion that drew her to him or the possibility that someone might love him even for a fleeting moment? While it’s easy for Valeria to run away from her problems and this marriage, she has decided (for now) to face the consequences of her actions and open up to a stranger. And while it’s still too early to know if Valeria can grow up to love Thomas, it’s more important that Valeria grows up to love herself.
The Koalition spoke to actress Nadine Velazquez about Valeria’s growth, marriage, solo career and what fans can expect this season.
“I think Valeria should treat [her mother’s death] at some point, but we don’t see that this first season, maybe season two, but we’re moving really really fast [for]first season.
She’s heartbroken and then that love comes into her life, and it’s genuine, it’s not like Valeria, especially with relationships. We really just wanted to create an opening for love. [For Valeria], like Bree life is short; Bree almost died alive. [For Valeria], life is short, life has changed so fast. [She decides] “I’m gonna live for today, I’m just gonna jump in and go ahead and do this now. I like Thomas. [He] seems to be very authentic.
Thrown into the foster system from an early age, Valeria has always struggled with the concept of love; only telling two people; instead, she found love in success. But what is love according to Valeria? Living so long without her, can Valeria recognize true love when he looks her in the face? While it’s easy for one person to say “I love you”, for Valeria those words carry weight and mean she doesn’t move lightly.
It’s important that she says (or doesn’t say) “I love you because she’s only said it to two people in her entire life. It was meant to be so meaningful and special. You don’t say it just because I say it. Say it because it’s in your heart to say it, say it because you can’t help but say it and not because I ask.
“I think we’ll continue to see how Valeria pushes back on that relationship. I think it’s still going to be a source of conflict for her going into Season 1. [but] we can just see that he brings stability, consistency, and a kind of love and strength that she’s just not used to. I think they definitely have a power struggle. You will see that and then finally, she will have to make a choice for herself. She still has so much to develop and if we get a season two that would be really great to explore because part of what I loved about the audience response to Valeria is so many women saying ” I’m just like that” and part of my intuition with this character was to represent women who are like that.
“I love that we created Valeria to have this inner conflict that she’s kind of aware of but doesn’t really know how to be consistent. She knows how to talk about it but deep down she doesn’t really know how to to live.
For more on Valeria and Nadine Velazquez, watch our full interview in the video above.