As fans brace for a third season of Queen of the South, Brazilian actress Alice Braga prepares for the world to see her character, Teresa Mendoza, in possibly one of the most powerful times of her life.
“I’m excited to see how people are going to react to this Teresa that is taking care of her own destiny, that is someone that is just trying to, again, survive like she was in Season 1 and 2, but with a different way of commanding her destiny, commanding her decisions and choices, and going through a bunch of action, and a bunch of moments into her life,” Braga, 35, tells FIERCE.
While Season 3 finds Teresa in a place where she’s in charge of her own life, that’s not to say that she’s completely free —Teresa still has to come to terms with breaking away from Camilla (Veronica Falcon), and what that will mean once the two do come face-to-face again.
We chatted with Braga about the new season, Teresa’s growth throughout the series, the need for women to advocate for themselves and girl power.
What are you most looking forward to fans seeing this season?
I really want people to see a car chase that we shot in Malta that looked really good. I think people are going to be excited about that sequence. But more than anything, I think Teresa’s journey to being in charge of her own life.
As Teresa’s character has grown over the last few seasons, do you feel like you’ve grown or explored parts of your own identity during your time playing her?
For sure! It’s the first time that I’ve done TV, so I’ve never played a character that would grow in the sense of playing it over and over again. In movies, you play a character, but there is a beginning, middle and then you move on to the next project, so you don’t revisit the character unless there’s a prequel or sequel. This was the first time that I had to keep a character alive throughout seasons. So, not only have I tried to evolve while the character evolves in life, but understanding what a human being she is, and where she’s going, what she is becoming as a character and as human being. I do think I definitely learned a lot from Teresa because she’s such a strong woman and such a survivor that doesn’t victimize herself. It was very interesting for me to learn through the experience.
Based on her experience and her own growth, do you think Teresa would have any life lessons or advice for women who are currently looking to change an aspect of their identity?
I think Teresa would definitely be someone to say, “Don’t give up,” which I think is wonderful advice. She’s a character who it’s not that she’s a rebel, but is someone who believes in not victimizing yourself and fighting for it, and I think that’s a beautiful quality in the sense of “Just keep on going. Just keep on moving. Don’t give up.” And I think, funny enough, it’s very accurate for the moment that we’re living right now for women, right?
Oh, definitely. Your role as Teresa kind of flips the role of the outdated damsel-in-distress that many female characters are resorted to. And because she does actively fight for herself and her own success, how do you think women can advocate for themselves?
I do believe by not letting it go back to the old patterns of always saying that women need to do this or that, or have to be only this or that. I think we can and we should be whatever we want and we dream of. I think it’s important that from the smallest scale to the biggest scale, we’re always in charge of our own desires and not letting people choose to stop us from being what we are, or going to where we want to be. I think it’s important to be yourself more than anything.
How do you think women can use their own voice to inspire others?
I think by being together, supporting each other and not competing with each other. I think we are in a world created by not only women … I think men also created that situation for women … that women had to compete with each other or something like that. And I think support is super valuable, and I think we’re stronger together. So, definitely advocating for yourself, for every woman, and empowering ourselves is super important. And I think representation definitely matters.
Now, we are starting to see an increase in focus on healthy and powerful roles for women—however, are there any kinds of female roles you hope to see in the next 5 to 10 years?
The more strong female characters that we have on TV, in movies, is super important just because again, as I said, representation matters. I think it’s great that we’re opening more doors for these characters. One specific role … I don’t know. I think we’re doing so much right now that it’s coming. For example, it’s great to see “Ocean’s 8” being No. 1 at the box office when there’s a “Star Wars” movie out with it. It feels so exciting to see that. You’re like, “Oh my God. Did it really beat the Han Solo movie?” I think those types of movies are great because it is entertainment, it is a blockbuster, it is a popular movie, and it’s with eight women on camera the entire film. I think it’s great.
I saw on your Instagram you had an interesting post where you’re wearing a shirt that says “Bullshit.” So, what are you calling bullshit on right now?
Let me see … Oh my God. My country is going through so many political issues right now that I could say a lot of things about my country. I could go all day. Like, really, really bad things. Since I’m in Brazil to shoot a movie, I think I would call bullshit on the how we are a country that cannot find ourselves in a way that would need a military intervention. There are talks and there are people saying that, and I think this is, pardon my language, bullshit. I think this is the crazy way to think. I think that’s definitely something. Or bullshit to women being put in a box and being either this or that. We can be whatever we want—girl power!
You’ve gathered inspiration from so many people in the industry, including your own aunt Sonya [Braga]. What’s one unexpected piece of advice you’ve learned from working in the entertainment industry?
It’s funny because it came from someone that is so big in the industry that it feels kind of like a ready-made line, but it was super important for me as an actress. When I did “I Am Legend” with Will Smith, I was in a fragile time in the sense of being young and trying to find my way into acting, and figuring out how challenging it is, this career and this profession, and sexually, by being a woman.
We were just talking one day, and he said to me, “An excuse is the skin of a lie wrapped around a reason,” and it was so interesting to hear that because, for me, that resonated into I should never give excuses. I should always fight for what I believe in and believe in myself more than anything. And that struck with me in the sense of “Don’t lie to yourself. Keep on going.” And that was super important for me, I think for my entire life in the business—and as a woman, and a human being. So it was very powerful advice, I feel.
Queen of the South season three premiered Thursday, June 21 on USA Network.