Victoria Cartagena plays Detective Renee Montoya on FOX's Gotham. Follow Vicki on Twitter: @VickiCartagena . Photo by Elise Gannett.
Screeeeeeeeech! I had to put an APB out on the release date of this interview when Victoria Cartagena, Detective Renee Montoya on FOX's super hit series Gotham, told me some out of this world news that left me no choice but to add more to this article. Hint: What letter of the alphabet does Victoria's name have in common with a television show from the 1980s? (I just confused myself, but somehow, that question still makes sense to me - so if you're confused, my loyal readers, it's because of me, not you.)
Victoria, aka Vicki, is having a blast playing the thorn in Jim Gordon's side - watching his every move, just basically annoying him while looking out for her past love interest, Barbara Kean. Since Vicki has become such a huge hit on the show in multiple fanbase universes, we're now seeing added layers to her character. Sooooo juicy!
Vicki is amazing with the fans, which definitely boosts her status to over the top. You can only imagine my reaction when Vicki told me she is a fan of Kenneth Johnson's original 1983 "V" series where Robert Englund and mice eating, human-looking lizards tried to take over Earth. Yes, well, my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest like an Alien.
Alrighty, let's see what makes Victoria Cartagena tick, and feel free to give her a shout out on her Twitter @VickiCartagena . Show this lady some love! (P.S. Someone please leave a comment below and tell me what a wallflower convention is! Wouldn't it be funny if Vicki herself left a comment about the conventions?)
You've done theater, film and television. Name one thing from each category that stands out the most to you.
In theater there is an immediate thrill when the curtain goes up. That feeling can't be captured after shooting a scene, it's unique to the stage. From my experience doing the few indie films that I've done, I've noticed that there is a lot more improv involved. The filmmakers are not as married to a script as I have experienced in other mediums. In television you have a lot more time to get to know a character and develop their inner world.
Have you read any of the fan fiction written for your Gotham character Detective Renee Montoya and Barbara Kean?
Oh, yes I have and I really enjoy reading them. The fans are so dedicated and committed to their writing and roleplaying in certain cases, that I am in complete awe of them. They know their stuff, they do the homework and they're quite talented. Hell, sometimes I feel they know "Keatoya" better than I do and if I am being honest - some of the stories are quite sexy!
What are your thoughts on power struggles?
There are a lot of power struggles on the show. You see it between Gotham City and the local government. You see it within the GCPD and you can see it in the love triangle between Renee, Barbara and Jim. It's just a part of life. Ultimately a power struggle is an essential element of a drama and in many ways that's one of the things that makes Gotham so compelling.
At what point did you find out that your character, Detective Renee Montoya, was a (recovering) alcoholic? What type of research, if any, did you do to make your character more true to this 'discovery'?
I knew when I read the pilot. As an actor you can't help but bring your own life experience to every role you play and this case is no different. I know alcoholics, I know drug addicts, I've loved some of them. I've witnessed their struggle first hand. I can never truly understand their plight because I've never been there but I believe that they are fighters. I've seen how they've fought. Some of them being triumphant some of them not being as fortunate. I see them every time I step into Renee Montoya's shoes.
Have you ever received a fan request such as an invitation to the fan's prom, engagement party, you get the drift.
No, I haven't but if they did, for their sake, I would probably decline the invitation. I'm the last person someone would want to take to a prom or any party for that matter unless it's a wallflower convention, which in that case I'm your gal but otherwise they might want to invite someone a tad more fun.
Why did you choose to attend New York's American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and after graduation, did you stay in New York or take the next flight to another hot location for actors?
My friends chose AMDA for me. I didn't know it at the time but they filled out an information postcard from the school, requesting an application. I'd gotten my degree in Education but always secretly wanted to be an actor and my friends knew that about me. They also knew that I was too afraid to pursue a career in acting so they tried to give me a push in that direction. When the application came, I sent it out, got a call to audition, was admitted, moved to NYC and I haven't left since.
What did you do the day you found out Gotham was renewed for a second season?
I wish I could say that I did something really wild and crazy to celebrate but I didn't. I was excited and happy for all those involved and I also knew the fans were going to be equally as excited once they heard the news so I just tweeted about it and read all the positive responses that were posted that day. Did I mention how much fun I am?!
Tell us an on set Gotham story that you have not yet told anyone.
Aw man, the pressure. There was that time in the pilot when Renee walks into Barbara's apartment all badass, at least that's the take you saw when it aired but in rehearsal I actually busted my behind down the two stairs entering the apartment! I'm such a klutz so I'm glad they didn't tape the rehearsal otherwise I'm sure it would've been on the gag reel.
Do you receive fan mail in snail mail? Tell us some of the fan messages you've received that really stood out to you and why?
Yes, mail can be sent to my manager's office at Sweet 180 C/O V. Cartagena 141 W. 28th St #300 NY, NY 10001. I also hear from fans via Twitter, the messages that stand out the most are the ones I've received from LGBTQ fans telling me how much Renee Montoya means to them. They express how great it feels to be represented on television. And I am right there with them, I appreciate and am honored to play a character that stands for so much, stands for so many, stands for them and stands for me. It's progress!
You most recently did an independent film called The Pastor. Tell us about your role and how you connect or don't connect to your character.
I play a single mom whose estranged husband, an ex-gangster, now a pastor, is released from prison and tries to rebuild his life. In doing so, his past comes back to haunt him and his wife and son are kidnapped. The entire time that she is held captive her only concern is her son's well being. She stops at nothing to protect him and putting myself in her shoes I would certainly do the same.
Do you still have family in Philly? What kind of chores did you do as a kid?
I do! Sadly, I didn't do any chores as a child. Not that I'm putting this on my mother but she never asked me to do any work around the house. Looking back, I really wish that I had because she would work all day then came home to cook and clean with no help and she never complained. I guess I took that for granted. Anyway, this reminds me that I should call her right now and tell her how much I appreciated her and how much I still do. I can never say it enough.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Thank you! These questions were great! Very different from what I am usually asked and I had a lot of fun answering them!