Valery Ortiz plays Devil Girl Raquel Saldana in VH1's No. 1 hit hour long scripted series Hit the Floor. Valery's Twitter: @ValsTweet , Instagram: @valstweet, Valery's Website. Photo by Marc Cartwright.
Valery Ortiz is an actress, host, dancer, singer, songwriter, reader of my interviews and author best known as popular cheerleader Madison Duarte on the groundbreaking N network series South of Nowhere. (I just read that out loud and I'm out of breath!)
I watched South of Nowhere so when I found out I was interviewing Valery, the biggest smirk appeared on my face. As far as Hit the Floor, well, guess what? My son and I just love the drama on that show (and the dancing and the cheerleading!) so I just had to get the scoop on Valery!
You play Raquel Saldana on VH1's scripted series Hit the Floor. What can you tease us about the new season?
Yes! The fans have waited patiently and season three delivers! There is definitely more heart this season but just as much (if not more!) drama, sex, and hot dances! Billy Baldwin comes to play with us as a handsome billionaire with a lot of secrets, Jonathan Bennett stirs things up with Zude and the amazing Lynn Whitfield comes back as Jelena's mom. So much happens and is revealed every episode! I can not wait until everyone sees it!
Your character Madison Duarte in the N network series South of Nowhere was popular and snobby, but later softened up. What was it like portraying someone that people loved to hate? Why did Madison become more caring later on?
Considering what a bully Madison was, I honestly thought I may get hate mail. Luckily the fans understood she was just someone I played on TV. They were actually amazing and still follow all of the casts careers to date! As far as Madison softening up towards the end, I think our amazing writers just wanted to give her more heart. You see a vulnerable side of her and start to (maybe) understand why she is the way she is. Everyone has a story. Unfortunately some people may have shared some of Madison's judgmental views but it was really nice to be able to take that journey and explore a different side of her. South of Nowhere was such a brave series to be on when it was and I am still so very thankful I was a part of it.
You were born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and grew up in Orlando, Florida. Tell us the story about how your family got to Florida and your family roots.
My parents made the move from Puerto Rico to Florida when I was 3 years old. My dad grew up in New York so when he went back to Puerto Rico as an adult, he always knew he would like to bring his family to the states because it offered more opportunities. Our roots are still firmly planted in Puerto Rico, New York and of course, Florida. I am working on planting some out West in California as well.
How long does glam for an event take you?
Aw man! If I am getting styled the same afternoon (trying on different outfits) it can take me as much as four hours! It is such a process to pull the wardrobe, hair and makeup together. I am so lucky I have help! I have seen old red carpet pictures of mine where it was clear I did not have extra help! My friends and I love to laugh at those old photos! I have come a long, long, way. Lol!
What are your thoughts on social media?
It is oh so mixed! I love being able to connect so easily to old friends, my family far away and of course, fans. That is the coolest part and why, initially I was so attracted to it. Now, it is honestly bigger than itself and you are a minority if you do not socialize on any of the popular sites. What is really frustrating is hearing my talented friends go on interviews / auditions and being asked how many "followers" they have. There is a validation thing that is been heavily attached to social media and if you are not 'followed' as much as the next person, you can be considered 'not good enough'. As if we did not have enough insecurities attached to this industry, now the popularity game seems to overpower talent in many cases. I hate that part of it.
Tell us about the choreography for Hit the Floor. What's the most difficult move you were asked to do?
Michael Rooney is king! He and Danny Valle choreographed the Devil Girls' technical and hot dances! Considering I have not danced professionally in a while, all of their moves look difficult! Ha! Ha!
Being on Hit the Floor must be such a workout. Do you work out on your days off?
Raquel is a formal Devil Girl, so I did my own training outside of work. I love running so I was training for a couple of marathons during filming and that kept me in great shape. I also threw in some Zumba classes with my favorite teacher and friend Jhon Gonzalez and mixed it up. I love working out and yes, it is an every day affair. I have to work really hard to stay where I am.
What do you do for fun?
I love hiking, running, writing and just catching up with my friends. When I get really busy any of those things really ground and energize me. Any big break I get you will probably find me in Florida or wherever my family is. They are my anchor.
What drives you crazy?
Technology! I am not the most computer savvy person around and anytime I have ever had an issue with a computer program or just my computer or anything involving technology, my brother Hector has come to the rescue. For 11 years now, Hector is 3,000 miles away so it drives me absolutely crazy when I have an issue with a device and I can not figure it out. But ironically, thanks to technology, I call or FaceTime him for help and he takes care of it. He is even had to do that thing when you enable someone to take over your screen. Lol. I do not know what I would do without him!
Anything else you'd like to say?
When I do interviews like this I am reminded how lucky I am to be living my dream. Being able to give my extra time to organizations like 'Best Friends Animal Society' or 'Eva Longoria's Padres Contra El Cancer' really puts things into perspective. We are never promised anything. Thank you to everyone who has supported my journey artistically and personally. When they say "it takes a village", I would say it does not just apply to children!