Edy Ganem’s fame is rising, and if her Twitter followers prove anything, it’s that she has a loyal army of supporters that can’t wait to see her big break in the romantic comedy Ana Maria in Novela Land. With the success of her role as Valentina Diaz in Lifetime’s award-winning series Devious Maids and now her starring role as not one, but two characters, further proves that her name is one to remember. Ganem, extremely humble and charming at only twenty-five, she jumped on the phone to talk about her first lead role and working with the late actress Elizabeth Peña– which happened to be her last film. We begin:
CINEMACY: THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME IN A LEADING ROLE, SO HOW HAS THIS EXPERIENCE BEEN FOR YOU?
EDY GANEM: It’s been a whirlwind; I’m starting to find that this whole career tends to be really ‘whir-windy,’ haha. I got the script for this as I was finishing filming Devious Maids in Atlanta and within a week of being back in L.A., we started filming Ana Maria in Novela Land, so it was really stressful that week. We had rehearsals, fittings, and I had the script in my hands and kept wondering, “How am I going to do this?”“Do I memorize everything right now?” I was freaking out. Once I got on the set I got the hang of how everything worked, and after meeting everyone else, it became a really, really fun experience.
I didn’t realize what all was going on until after I was done. I played not only one, but two roles– I thought that was really badass. I think that’s what attracted me from the beginning, as an actress, how fun is this? I get to play two completely different characters.
YOU WERE REALLY CONVINCING TOO, I DIDN’T REALIZE YOU WERE PLAYING BOTH CHARACTERS…
Ha! Yeah the makeup crew was great! They really brought their A-game for this.
HOW MUCH OF YOURSELF DID YOU BRING TO EITHER CHARACTER?
I didn’t have to audition for this part, but normally when you do audition, there is a character description and a breakdown. Since the role was offered to me [and there was no description] I was like, “Woah, I can’t believe they trust me to do this. What of they don’t like what I do?” It was an honor to be able to come in and know that they thought I would be a good Ana Maria and a good Arianna.
I think as an actor, every character I play is in a way me because I can’t be anything but myself. That’s how I feel. I know there are different actors out there with different approaches but for me, I just mute certain characteristics and bring out or enhance other aspects of myself. For example, if I’m playing a really violent person– in general I’m not violent– I could mute the loving, peaceful part of me and emphasize my “angry” self. For Ana Maria, I’ve always had a bit of a quirky side and a little bit nerdy, and so I really focused on that. Arianna is a person I am not like at all; I would never be so demanding and self-centered, but it doesn’t mean that sometimes I want to be like that! How fun would it be if I were a little more bitchy? Like if someone was to say something to me, I’d just reply, “shut up!” Haha. I bring that side out in Arianna. It’s good therapy!
DID YOU HAVE TO WATCH ANY SOAP OPERAS FOR RESEARCH?
I’ve already seen so many. I grew up in Mexico, my whole family is Mexican and I feel like it was a part of our culture. I knew how soap operas worked, I just never thought I would be part of one! It was actually a little bit challenging because acting for film and TV is very different from what we see in the Latin community. In soap acting, everything is more passionate and big. We actually had [co-star and Columbian soap opera actor] Juan Pablo Gamboa on set so it was fun to get advice from him. It was really fun, I have to say– I think it was a little bit more fun to play Arianna because of how crazy she gets. Yeah, I really enjoyed being in the novela world.
LUIS GUZMAN IS IN THIS FILM TOO, WHAT WAS WORKING WITH HIM LIKE?
He is such a sweet guy, really down to earth and willing to be there for you. I feel like he has an intense stare that can come off as a little bit intimidating but he is such a sweetheart! I wore some crazy high heels in one of the scenes and in between takes he would look at me and be like, “Are you ok mommy? You need to sit down? Are your feet hurting?” The fact that somebody even notices that you might need to sit down is just so caring. That was the case with everyone; we all had a blast on set because we were all there to really bring it and willing to play.
I told her the first day I was on set with her that it was an honor to be able to work with her and I’m so glad I said that…
SADLY THIS IS ELIZABETH PEÑA’S LAST FILM, HOW DID SHE AFFECT YOU AS AN ACTOR?
She had been working so long and I believe she paved a road for a lot of us newcomers, and so for me to get to work with her was very– it was so unexpected; to be with one person one day and then learn the next day that they’re no longer with us was hard. I told her the first day I was on set with her that it was an honor to be able to work with her and I’m so glad I said that because now, more than ever, you realize you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I have to say, my memories of her are of a joyful, smiling, laughing woman because that’s what we did all day on set. She literally had to clean and re-do her makeup because she would be laughing so hard her eyes would cry. We also had wonderful conversations about life, boyfriends, and marriage. She was so inspiring and such a strong woman.
So far my career has been wonderful in that I’ve been able to work with amazing people. In Devious Maids I worked alongside Eva Longoria and Marc Cherry and the cast: Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes and in this film I get to work with Elizabeth Peña and Luis Guzman.
DURING THE FILM’S CREDITS THERE IS THIS GIANT DANCE PARTY– I IMAGINE THIS WAS LIKE THE ATMOSPHERE ON SET…
Haha yes! That scene was so funny and so fun. At first we were like, “What are we doing?” The fact that everyone was nervous like, “wait how do I dance? I don’t have a style,” oh we were so nervous! I actually had some choreography and had to learn my moves with a dancer, but after we got into it and everyone started dancing, nobody could stop them.
ANA MARIA FINDS SOLACE IN HER TELENOVELAS, WHAT DO YOU PERSONALLY FIND SOLACE IN?
Depending on how I’m feeling or where I am in my life, I always try to look back at the basics and realize that no matter what I may be going through, I am really lucky and blessed to have my family, to be healthy, to be alive and to know that even if everything goes wrong, I can still get up every morning and start again. As long as I’m alive and healthy, I can keep going! It sounds really simple, and it is.