Humberly González is taking the TV world by storm. From ‘Utopia Falls’ to a new Netflix series, she is staying busy. HL spoke with Humberly about her projects, diversity in Hollywood, and more.
Humberly González is a young actress you need to keep your eye on. She is currently in production on the new sci-fi series Utopia Falls, which will air on CBC. The show is a coming-of-age story that takes place in the distant future and follows a group of teens who discover an ancient forbidden archive of historical, cultural, and musical relics. On top of Utopia Falls, Humberly is also working on the new Netflix series Ginny & Georgia and appeared on The CW series In The Dark earlier this year.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Humberly about her exciting role on Utopia Falls and the intense audition process. Humberly discussed how Utopia Falls is unlike any coming-of-age shows you’ve ever seen before. She also opened up about growing up in South America and how she got her start in acting. Check out our full Q&A below.
What drew you to the role of Brooklyn in Utopia Falls?
Humberly González: Actually, when I first auditioned for it, I wasn’t even sure they were ever even going to consider me because on the casting call they were looking for professional singers and dancers for a lot of the roles. I actually had auditions for three roles before I even booked a part in the show. It was a very tumultuous kind of process because I was like, “Okay, I can tell they like me and they’re trying to find a place for me.” After the first audition, I already really loved the show. I knew I was going to be heartbroken if I didn’t get it. But I did actually end up going to a dance call back, which I have not had a dance callback since I was, I don’t even know, in high school and dance is not my professional art. I focus on acting and singing is something that I love, but dancing wasn’t my strong suit. So I was definitely a little nervous and self-conscious, but I was just going to go in there and move and enjoy it. In the room was Tanisha Scott who is an incredible choreographer. She choreographs for Cardi B, Beyonce, and Rihanna. All these top divas that I absolutely adore, so no big deal. But I actually had a lot of fun. I gave it my all and they actually ended up asking me to stay behind to show them a bit of my own movement. I am from Venezuela originally so I do a lot of Latin dance and they actually wanted to kind of push for that. Even though it was hip hop, what we did, they wanted to kind of see my own flavor and that was really exciting. So even right there and then I felt like even if they didn’t know what they were looking for, I brought something to the table that they were inspired by and that meant a lot to me that they could see that.
There are so many coming-of-age stories that we’ve seen and that are coming up. What stood out about this particular one that was exciting for you?
Humberly González: The fact that it’s in a sci-fi world 300 years in the future and within this world, a lot of things don’t exist that exist now. They really believe that things like religion, music, different ethnicities, and parts of what you are, the things that make us different, are what created the end of humanity and society itself. So it’s a coming of age story within a world where the norms in which we live now don’t actually exist. A 16-year-old wouldn’t necessarily know what growing up means without art, without any kind of those things that create problems or things like homophobia or racism or sexism. They don’t exist because they’ve been kind of erased from history. It’s in a new society where it’s trying to become the utopia of life. So I think it’s really interesting to see these kids navigating life with very minimal information because everybody within the world only knows so much and everybody knows the same kind of information. But what happens within the show is that they discover something that is completely life-changing and they start realizing that they’ve been lied to and that everything they know is not as it seems. So it’s growing up out of human curiosity, not necessarily because they’ve been taught this is what happens. But no matter how much you try to erase what being human is, I think because of our curiosity and our wanting to grow, that’s how they come to develop and grow. It’s a coming of age story in a very, very different setting.
Is there anything you can sort of tease about your character?
Humberly González: My character is a singer and she is definitely the one that’s the most rebellious. She takes to the idea of change and kind of abandoning the old way of living to heart. It’s almost like she has been waiting for this her entire life without knowing it.
As an actor, what are you looking for in a project? What stands out to you and what inspires you as you navigate Hollywood?
Humberly González: I do get to audition for so many different things and something that I love about my job is that I appreciate that casting directors and producers and everyone can kind of see me in such different roles and I’m not being put into a box. For me, that’s really exciting because I’ve played everything from 16 to 30 and I do tend to actually be cast really, really young. For those roles, it’s interesting because I can bring a certain kind of depth to the naivety or the innocence of being a teenager, which I still remember but I’ve grown so much that I can a lot more perspective. It’s exciting for me to bring that kind of in-depth work and that vulnerability. I really love characters that go through an emotional journey within the show or they have a certain kind of attitude or sassiness. I love when they’re not scared to say what they feel. So it either goes to the really, really sassy characters or someone who is like completely broken down and is the underdog, and they’re trying to work through a very emotional, traumatic experience and rise above. It’s kind of all over the place, but I look for really good writing. For me, memorizing lines isn’t hard, especially when it just flows and I can understand what’s being said. If I read a script and I know that in five minutes it’s already in my head, that in my gut tells me that it’s good writing and I would love to keep exploring that and see if I got the part to see how it continues growing within the show.
I feel like the variety is so important because having the ability to transform yourself into very different characters is crucial.
Humberly González: It is and it’s also what’s really scary. For me, I feel like if a part makes me a little nervous or hesitant or I’m not sure, most likely than not, I feel that I need to do it. I know that’s how I felt about Utopia Falls. It was like my first leap to be a regular on a show and be a singer and have to dance. All of those things, as exciting as they were, I was terrified. But I was like, “Oh, I know that if it scares me it means I have to do it because I know I’m going to learn so much from this experience.” So I can have the moments of doubt, but I can’t linger in that. I just have to let it happen and then continue and just keep going. One day at a time.
When you were younger, who inspired you?
Humberly González: It’s funny because I grew up in South America and acting was never really an option. We don’t have acting schools or anything like that. I grew up watching telenovelas on screen and to be a telenovela star you had to be really beautiful or have a lot of money. For me, that was so out of reach. Miss Venezuela is like one of the biggest things in competitions and beauty in our country. I remember people would nickname me that. I was like, “Well, maybe I could because they’re telling me I’m so pretty and all this stuff.” But it actually became this pressure and growing up with the idea of what if I’m not talented enough or I’m not good enough. I was so scared that it was just going to be that. I had to be careful with going into the arts for the wrong reasons I guess. But when I was a kid, I didn’t really have any kind of North American influence for artists or anything. When I moved to Canada in 2007 that’s when the doors started opening and I was already like 15. I started taking drama in high school. I started in musical theater and I loved it. I loved having the audience right there reacting to everything that was happening and singing and dancing was obviously part of my culture. I love singing, I love dancing, and I grew up doing that with my parents and my entire family. But it didn’t really become real until I decided to go to theater school. I went to the National Theater School in Montreal. When I graduated, I decided to move here and just give it a shot and see what happens, not knowing anything about film or TV. I had never even stepped on a movie set until 2015 when I did a short film. I knew nothing. I came into this completely just wide-eyed and ready to take it on. But once I did move here and my agent found me, she guided me through what I needed to do in my self-tapes and auditioning and being so nervous in audition rooms and just having to show up every day. Every opportunity is an opportunity. Every audition, it was overwhelming. And then eventually something clicked after everything that I had learned. It just felt like I was meant to do this and it wasn’t just because of how I looked, but really because I loved the art form of acting. I feel like I’m a very empathetic human and I feel like that’s the reason I can really click with different characters and play different things. There are so many talented people here in Toronto that I looked up to just from being on sets and watching the number ones have a scene and be so inspired. For me, the inspiration happened every time I got the opportunity to walk onto a set and be introduced to a new piece of information.
We have shows like Jane the Virgin and Grand Hotel that are anchored by these diverse casts. How does it feel to know that you’re entering an arena that is much more inclusive than it was 10 years ago?
Humberly González: I feel like it was meant to happen now because if I had started a different time or I had taken a different path, I don’t know if I would have had the same success or the same ambition to do it. But it’s so exciting. I actually grew up watching Jane the Virgin in South America when it was the actual novela, Juana la Virgen. And to see it be made in this scenario, where it’s a North American show with someone like Gina Rodriguez, who I absolutely adore, was exciting. I was just like, this is possible. I see myself now on screen more than I ever have before. That makes me feel reassured that Hollywood is changing. It isn’t just about one type of people, but so many different types of people and not because of a stereotype. But rather, because they also have the same kind of stories that we all go through. There’s no stereotype within it. It’s simply we go through every emotion and we go through loss and love and travel or whatever it is that humans go through. I get to actually be me and not because of where I come from, but rather because of my story. And that’s really important to me and it’s so exciting that I’m starting my career at a time where people are actually willing to look at me. Not just as the maid or the stripper or those stereotypical Latin roles, but rather as someone who lives, and breathes, and loves just like any other human. And she just happens to be Hispanic.
Are you working on any other projects?
Humberly González: I am actually doing this other Netflix series right now called Ginny & Georgia. They just recently started shooting like a month ago. It’s very, very early on. I had my first time on set just a week ago. It’s such a great team. There are a lot of women who are part of the project — the creator, lots of women directors. It’s also an elite cast of women. It’s kind of like Gilmore Girls, but with a twist. It’s also kind of coming of age story with girls in high school who are going through moving, heartache, and growing up in a very modern, millennial world.