Check out our interview with Award-Winning Afro-Latina actress and filmmaker Loren Escandón who can be seen currently in Freevee’s new highly anticipated bilingual limited series, Casa Grande.

Following a tone similar to fan favorite series, Yellowstone, the five-part series shares a Hispanic influences spin, following the tales of Northern California’s hardworking migrant workforce and wealthy landowners. Loren is set to portray Ximena Morales, Rafael’s wife, and Mael’s mother, who dreams of a better life for her son but keeps honest with herself about the reality of their circumstances. Although a respected leader in the workforce, her family is not to be messed with as she is not afraid to play into her wild card side.

Follow Loren @lorenescandon

Hi Loren, please tell us a little about you

I was born and raised in Cali – Colombia, the only child of an interracial couple. I went to the National Ballet School in my country and became a professional ballerina. When my body couldn’t do it anymore, I transitioned to theater with a small hiatus in journalism. I moved to the States without speaking the language, with only one friend and very little money, but sure, I would make it to Broadway, and if you must know, I can’t really sing… oops!

I love to dance, especially salsa, but the Colombian style, the Cuban and Puerto Rican count, makes my brain explode. I love dogs, cooking, and having friends over my place. They call me “the hostess with the mostess.” I am an actress and director and part of the new show “Casa Grande” on Freevee.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Kind, Discipline, Unconditional

How did you get started into acting?

My artistic career started as a ballerina. When I was 8, my mother came home and told me I was going to audition for the national ballet school, and back then, I wouldn’t dare to contradict my mom! After a few years in the professional company and when my body couldn’t take it anymore, I moved into dancing Tango and Jazz. I always wanted to be on stage, so it felt like a good idea to prolong my performing career beyond the age of my body to study theater. So I did. Once I graduated, I moved to the States to conquer Broadway… At least, that was the initial idea. I made it to Off-Broadway, just in case you were wondering.

What is the best and worst part of being an actress?

Well, the best part is to explore, create and awaken all the dormant parts within me. As humans, we can live under an entire spectrum of circumstances, beliefs, and realities. As actors, we get to tap into those parts that are not upfront because they are not part of our societal personality.

The worst is the time that takes understanding within your soul and mind that getting “rejected” is not personal.

Tell us about your work in Amazon Freevee “Casa Grande” and about your role as Ximena Morales.

I am super excited to be part of this show. And happy it finally found a home on Freevee. Ximena, I genuinely love her. She reminds me a lot of my mother and myself. She is a fierce defender of her family while also being the life of the party. She is like a spark plug; Fire, kindness, and heart. She is a leader in her community and family and consistently has the right things to say to help people feel better. She is keenly aware of what is happening in her home as a wife and mother. Always keeping an eye on everything to ensure that harmony is preserved. I really hope the audience can connect with her essence because my main goal while crafting and creating Ximena was to bring pride to all the hardworking women out there, fighting for a better life for themselves and their communities, despite the adverse circumstances.

What other projects have you been part of?

I have been in the business of acting for a minute, but my transition to T.V. and Film feels new somehow. However, I have been fortunate to participate in some fantastic productions, from Selena: The Series to Gentefied, S.W.A.T., and 9-1-1 to the most watched summer movie on Netflix last year, Purple Hearts, where I had the opportunity to collaborate with Sofia Carson.

I am a director as well. On that front, last year, I embarked on a journey with a bunch of female artists to create a vital film after the overturn of Roe v Wade called, Give Me An A, where I had the honor to collaborate with Gina Torres and Jason George; it’s doing the festival circuit, and soon it will be available to the public. I honestly can’t wait.

What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?

Roles that embrace my race and cultural background in its totality and portray a reality of life far from pre-determined ideas of who we can be and more of WHO WE ARE. Characters that become a reference, an inspiration, and a complex representation of the Latine experience, through a lens that is expansive and allows changing perceptions of our places in the narratives. I would love to play a badass AfroLatina saving the world on her own terms, with an accent, natural curls, and wrinkles.

If you weren’t acting, what would you be up to right now?

I would be a journalist. That was a strong call I had when transitioning from Ballet to my next steps. My mother was always afraid; with the social challenges in my country back then and my “big mouth,” as she would call it, I would have a short life due to my passion for “calling it like it is” Lol. I find well-done and well-founded journalism is fundamentally a way of storytelling and crucial to democracy.

Can you name 3 actors/actresses you would love to work with?

Working with artists like Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, and Oscar Isaac would be an expansive experience. I’m in awe of how they approach the character with the attention to detail of a craftsperson, their capacity to disappear in their creation. That is what I strive for as an actress, and hopefully, when I get to be there with them, I can rise to that level.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most gratifying part is to mirror someone else’s experience and perspective, give voice to people that might feel unheard, or expand the perception of “the other.” It is gratifying to explore multiple parts that live dormant within me while connecting most intimately with strangers, becoming a reference they can rely on and feel inspired by. Being the reference I didn’t have when growing up is rewarding. It feels like hope and that has no equal.

What’s your advice for the newer actors?

Prepare your craft and be aware of your mental health. Everyone should pay close attention to it, but we constantly tap into our vulnerabilities as actors. Having a mental health routine is indispensable.

And don’t wait for opportunities; create your own and share with others what you have learned during that journey. Once you open a door, keep it open for the ones behind you.

How would your best friend describe you?

I have the fortune to have many great friends, and I think they would say I am a fierce, focused, strong-willed woman. No filter, unintentionally funny, the best cook of all, and willing to feed them endless meals on my patio. Busy but unconditional. A frugal fashionista. Lol.

If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?

Oh, this is a fun and complicated question —- The first title that comes to mind is “Doing it— with a smile and in style” Lol!!! From very early in my life, socioeconomic elements, bias, and colorism felt like going against my dreams and my vision of my future. However, my mom, who used to make my dresses so I wouldn’t encounter another girl with the same dress at church, taught me that a smile and a good outfit could do wonders. And so I took that to heart. I have worked hard, taken risks, become aware of my self-worth, found love, and built a community always with a smile and looking mostly fabulous.

What advice would you give to your younger self and why?

More than advice, I would plant a seed in my younger self.
“You are enough just as you are” When you encounter criticism from very early on, like when I started my dancing career, it really affects your perception of yourself. It gets to the point that it becomes a cycle, and even when you don’t have those people and voices demeaning your worth, you unconsciously keep bringing to your life circumstances that mimic that feeling. When you encounter industry people commenting on your accent, hair, look, sassiness, or lack thereof, unless you are assured of who you are, there is a self-worth downward spiral waiting for you with open arms. So, to my younger self – YOU ARE ENOUGH, MORE THAN ENOUGH, NO MATTER WHAT OTHERS SAY.

What’s next for Loren Escandon in 2023?

After the release of Casa Grande on Freevee, I will be working on a film I am directing in Colombia called Gris, a live-action / Animation saga about a first grader’s journey into understanding that races are more complicated than mixing colors in class and writing, creating, keeping the flow.

What is your favorite healthy food?

Anything has a healthy version. I would devour a bowl of spinach with olive oil and a pinch of salt anytime, every time.

And your favorite cheat food?

Pizza!!! and Colombian Chicharron.

What is your own definition of happiness?

Living in trust and completeness.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

The list is long, but I would be pragmatic, and at this moment of my process as an artist and director, Ava DuVernay would be the one. I deeply admire the sensitivity of her storytelling and the stories she brings to life. I am inspired by the business model of her company and the multiple ways she finds to support underrepresented communities and give them a seat on the table. Especially the initiative with female directors, creating a path for them to break into episodic directing with Queen Sugar. O.M.G. Idol!!! What she is doing for African-American / African-Black diaspora narratives is what I aspire to do for the Latinx/e – AfroLatinx narratives.

Do you support any charity?

Yes, I have been supporting Heifer International for a while, which works around 19 countries with local farmers and small business owners, identifying ways to create sustainable ways to earn living incomes. I was also invited by the amazing Monica Ramirez to the first-anniversary celebration of the program The Humans Who Feed Us, part of the organization Justice For Migrant Women, as part of the Host Committee, and it was truly inspiring. Looking forward to collaborating more with them. And eager to engage with the Mental Health cause soon.

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

I see myself working with brilliant, supportive minds as a recurring character in a relevant and entertaining tv show. I would have directed my first feature film and, on my way, to produce a tv series created by — yours truly!!! Opening up doors for my community.

What do you think of Social Media?

It is a blessing and a curse. The polarity of social media is undeniable. It helps us connect to friends, family, idols, and strangers, despite of whether we are close or far. At the same time, it creates this void and isolation that can put too much stress on people and their mental health.

Where we can follow you?

Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Book: For thought – “Stamped From The Beginning” By Ibram X. Kendi
For fun – “B de Bella” By Alberto Ferreras

Quote: Quien no arriesga no gana. The loose translation is “no risk, no gain” or “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Movie: The Burial of Kojo.

Tv Series: The Wire.

Favorite Food: Sushi, Thai – especially Khao Soi and Pad Kee Mao – homemade pizza, Colombian Hotdogs (Those are serious meals), steak tartare, Ramen, I love food, I love everything!!!!

Travel Destination: South Africa was an experience worth repeating. Putting out to the universe to take me there for work.



Photographer: Paula Neves @ttlens