By the end of Queen of the South Season 3, Guero was dead, James had left, and Camila was on the run...but Teresa, Pote, and King George are still building an empire.
With Queen of the South Season 4, that empire will extend to New Orleans with new business opportunites, high drama, and gators!
Recently, I spoke with Alice Braga about how Teresa Mendoza has grown over the last three seasons, what makes her different than the other drug kingpins she's gone up against, what attracted Alice to the role in the first place, and who are her two loyal bodyguards!
I’m a huge fan of the show. I’ve been watching it since the beginning. What made you want to play Teresa Mendoza?
Thank you so much. It’s so interesting, because I read the book, I guess, like nine years ago maybe, it was a long time ago. A friend of mine, she gave me the book and said there’s an amazing character. At the time there was going to be a movie, and the movie fell apart, and then there was the telenovela.
I was so happy because I thought it was a great character for a woman. So when it came to me, four or five years ago, more or less, I was almost like it was destiny or serendipity because when I read the book, I really loved the character.
I thought it was interesting because it’s a character not normal played by a woman. This character never victimized herself, the character is a strong person, a survivor and also has different qualities.
That was very appealing when I first read the book, so when they called me and mentioned that they were doing it, it felt kind of like the right decision to just jump on board because it was such an interesting, powerful character, and challenging, in a way, because she’s not one thing, she’s many things.
Teresa has changed so much over these seasons, has there been a particular phase for her or version of her that you’ve enjoyed playing most?
I really love the action. In (Queen of the South season 1) I ran a lot and that was a lot of fun.
I'd never done television before doing this show, I’ve always done film, so this is my first experience with a show where you revisit the character again every year. That, I think, for an actor is very exciting because the heartbeat is still there, even though we stopped for a little bit.
You live with the character for so many years that that is an opportunity to grow with the character and make the character grow. Things that Teresa was doing in season 1 we’re not doing anymore because she’s evolving but she’s a physical human being, so that’s part of her that I enjoy playing. It’s so much fun.
The show has filmed in a lot of different locations. It started out in Mexico City, then Dallas, Malta, and now this season is in New Orleans. Has that changed things at all, and does anyone get eaten by an alligator this season?
Oh my God, yeah! A little bit of a spoiler, yeah.
When you talk about New Orleans it’s hard to not talk about the swamps or the nightlife or the bars, and I think that’s unfair because there’s so much culture here. It’s such an interesting city for American history, I mean, everything happens here, and I think being here is really exciting for the show.
We shot the pilot in Mexico City; we went to Dallas, we went to Malta, so we’ve been to different locations. I think it’s really exciting to have this season in New Orleans, to have a change of scenery for the characters and for the journey of the show.
Is there a city or location that you’d like the show to travel to which it hasn’t yet?
I think New York would be interesting because it’s such a powerful city and it has so many different worlds in it; I think it could be interesting. But we just moved to New Orleans and I’m so happy to be here right now because there’s so much to tell.
But this is a show that could go anywhere because the characters are related to so many different subjects that it could be all over the place.
Last season was a tough season for Teresa romantically, Guero died, James left. Will there be any romance for Teresa this season?
There will. I think the first trailer (for Season 4) shows a bit of someone who may come into her life. I don’t know how much I can say, even though I want to tell you. But, yeah, if you watch closely, the first trailer you’ll see something sparking there.
When we ended Season 3, things had changed, where Teresa was on top and Camila was not. Is Camila Vargas still going to be a threat to her?
The more Teresa is growing the business, the more new people are coming into her life, and I think that is very interesting because it shows the challenge of how you maintain yourself in this business and how you have to decide which ways to go.
I think that’s going to play as a person growing in her personal life but also in her business life.
Camila is still out there. I cannot give you spoilers, but new characters are definitely coming. But the way they finished last season, it’s weakened Camila in a way and it’s really hard for her to get back on track.
Teresa’s in a world that’s very brutal and we’ve seen how the men have handled things, how Camila handles things. What do you think is different about how Teresa handles the business?
Teresa is a character that is very smart. The way they described her in the book, she was really good with numbers, she would observe more and talk less, she could analyze a situation and think fast.
And I think those are qualities are important for someone who is in a business that is, of course, an illegal business and a violent business, but apart from that, it still is a business, it still is an industry.
She’s not emotional, she’s more rational and more pragmatic, and I think that’s what makes her stay alive and also grow so much in every new journey she gets into. That makes her a strong, powerful character.
You said you read the book, and there was the telenovela series. This show has taken that source material and taken it in another direction right from the start. Do you now consider this story to have taken on a complete life of its own or are you still trying to somewhat keep within the origins of the story?
Right after the pilot, the show decided to have a completely different take on it. I always feel that they used the story and the characters to be inspired by the book, but after we shot the pilot it was decided by the showrunners and the studio that it should take a different turn.
I love this character so much because of my passion for this character, and this project was because of my passion for the book. So I still take my characteristics from the book. So I take her spine, her core, her personality, and I apply them to the situations they are writing.
So I always use the book as my bible for the character’s spine, but by Queen of the South Season 1 Episode 2 it was already completely different and that decision was made a long time ago, but I try to play the personality of that character in the book that was created by the author.
Recently on instagram, you posted a picture with the caption, “My bodyguards, Pingo and Pote.” Is Pingo your dog? Will he be on the show?
Oh, you’re so sweet. Pingo is my dog and he’s always with me. I bring him into the makeup trailer, and he loves Hemky (Madera), he loves Pote. So that’s why when he was sitting there I was like, “Okay, that’s my two bodyguards in one shot.”
But that’s my dog. He’s been with me since the pilot. Actually, I got him right after I came back from the pilot so he’s four, he’s Queen of the South age.
Are there any new projects on the horizon for you that you’d like to share with fans?
I just actually got the news that they rescheduled the release for The New Mutants. It’s a film that I did two years ago, a year ago. We’ve been waiting for reshoots but because of the Disney/FOX they postponed the release, and that’s going to release in April.
Right now I’m reading a couple of projects and trying to decide what I’m going to do when I wrap here. I also produced a few shows in Brazil. There’s a Netflix show that’s going to release in June that is about three kids on the outskirts of Sao Paolo and the guy who created the show owns like the third biggest YouTube channel in the world.
It was a very interesting project to get involved with as an executive producer because it was something that I kind of helmed from scratch. It’s very exciting to be able to produce and now I’m also producing Queen of the South. I really love producing.
With the Netflix show we were able to find this up and coming director and talent that’s out there and I’m really excited. The name of the show is A Grande Familia.
If you could star on any show on TV, not including Queen of the South, which show would you choose?
Wow! That’s a great question. That’s amazing. There are so many shows out there.
The first thing that came to mind was The Handmaid’s Tale. I think Elizabeth Moss is amazing and I really like the show.
And I just started watching it this weekend, and there are so many good actors in it, Succession from HBO. Adam McKay did the pilot, and there are so many brilliant actors in it. I would love to participate in a drama like that.
That was a great question! We’re always asked to talk about our shows that it’s great to talk about other actors and other shows.
Look for our Queen of the South Season 4 Episode 1 review here at TV Fanatic.
C. Orlando is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow her on Twitter.