Check out our interview with talented actress Stephanie Hoston who can be seen on a recurring role opposite Matthew Rhys on the new season of “Perry Mason” and also has a recurring role on CBS’ “FBI International.”
Follow Stephanie @stephanie.hoston
Hi Stephanie, please tell us a little about you?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California which was a huge blessing for me growing up. Because of the arts programs in school, I had the opportunity to explore what I love and now am pursuing as an actor, singer, and filmmaker. I also love roller skating, surfing, hiking, and dogs. I’m not the most hand eye coordinated… but I trained in boxing for a couple years just before the pandemic so I think it’s improved a bit since then. I also absolutely LOVE dancing. I’d drag everyone to the dance floor in a heartbeat if I could. I’m on two tv shows right now: “Perry Mason” on HBO and “FBI: International” on CBS.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Joyful. Silly. Ambitious.
How did you get started into acting?
I watched Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and I was hooked. I was also immensely inspired by Selena – the Tejana singer, and the biopic about her. Watching those two figures and being exposed to musical theatre in school, made me realize I could be anything and everything as an actor. That was incredibly exciting to me. The fact that actors also sometimes get the chance to sing, dance, and act all on the same project?! That was icing on the cake! I can’t wait to do my first professional musical on stage or in film and television.
How has this changed your life?
Acting has and will continue to broaden my horizons in all aspects of my life. Through acting, I’ve met some of the most interesting, different kinds of people. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to new places and learn about new cultures. Acting has helped me realize so much about myself. Being cast as a Mexican character in “Perry Mason” for instance, made me crave learning more about my own Latina identity. Even now, I’ve had this desire to connect more with the Latin side of myself that I had so long neglected as a result of growing up second generation in primarily white schools where speaking a second language and embracing my culture as a mixed Salvadoran woman was looked down upon.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part… oooh. I think I’m torn between two things I love: the people I get to meet and the self-exploration. As an actor I get to meet and learn from all different kinds of people. With each new character, whether it’s for an audition or a project I’ve already booked, I’m constantly exploring themes we as humans experience. I’m diving headfirst into sometimes very dark ideas that I’d normally shy away from like betrayal, sacrifice, fear, and even murder. Sometimes the worlds my characters live in and the experiences they have, make me even more grateful for my real life. What’s more, acting allows me to have personal epiphanies about my own life, and the way I’m experiencing it all the time. It feels like the right roles come to be at the perfect times to teach me new lessons.
How do you prepare for a role?
It depends on the role. If it is something that feels more foreign to me, then I do TONS of research on the circumstances my character is dealing with. With Sofía Gallardo on “Perry Mason”, I went to the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles and researched everything I could find about life for Mexican and Mexican American people in Los Angeles during that era. I found lots of information about the resilience of the Mexican people. I vividly remember learning about the Mexican women who fought against strikebreakers in the Pacific Electric strike of 1903. These women physically took tools away from scabs in honor of their husbands who were striking for fairer wages. I also learned about the forced deportation of anyone who was “Mexican” regardless of their citizen status during the Great Depression. I used details like these for fuel of the world I built in my head as Sofía, because the world was not an easy place at that time but I needed to understand the specific reasons why.
As for Maya on “FBI: International”, she’s much, much closer to who I am in real life. She’s generally the levity on the show, and I feel like most of my friends would say the same about me. When it comes to Maya, I focus on the relationships and immediate circumstances of the scenes. The rest is an adventure I experience on the day of the shoot! Of course, there’s also lots of watching bartender videos about how to mix drinks and such. hahaha
Tell us about your work in “Perry Mason?” And how was working opposite Matthew Rhys?
On the show, I get the chance to play Sofía Gallardo, a Mexican immigrant wife of Mateo Gallardo and sister-in-law to Rafael Gallardo, both of whom have been accused of murdering a prominent, wealthy community leader in 1933. She is also “a force to be reckoned with” and convinces Perry and Della (Juliet Rylance) to represent the boys. The opportunity to work on the show was an absolute dream come true. I still remember the phone call and how I cried with my managers and agents when they told me I booked it. I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually book until that point. It was such an affirmation for all the work I’d done. I thought maybe ONE DAY I’d work on HBO,… but not my first job,… EVER.
The days that I got to work alongside Matthew Rhys were a complete delight and masterclass. He is an incredible actor and probably one of the “pun-niest” people I know. He loves cracking jokes between takes, and switches to the most focused actor when the director calls “action.” Watching him work as Perry in the courtroom scenes, all I kept thinking was, “How does he do all that?” There’s so much physicality, and mental gymnastics those courtroom scenes entail. It was very impressive to watch him and Juliet navigate all that! In a place where nerves and stress can run rampant, Matthew creates the best, most relaxed atmosphere on set. I couldn’t be more grateful to have watched him and his work firsthand. I learned A LOT.
What we can expect for this new season?
Lots of twists and turns. Perry, Della, and Paul (Chris Chalk) being thrown into a whirlwind this season, during the worst part of the Great Depression. They’re navigating their personal lives while literally being attacked for representing Mexican clients. The story this season is also not a simple “Whodunit” story, it’s bigger than that, which makes it even more exciting to watch. Additionally, this season expands our idea of what Los Angeles was and looked like in 1933. There are AMAZING, Awe-Inspiring locations we get to visit this season. Probably the thing I’m most excited about though, is that we are adding to the representation of Latin people in 1933 Los Angeles. It makes me so excited to be a reflection of Latin culture during that time.
Now let’s talk about your recurring role on CBS’ “FBI International?”
On “FBI International”, I play a bartender and bar owner, named Maya. She finds herself, in a relationship with Agent Andre Raines (Carter Redwood). So far for Maya it’s been this beautiful, unexpected romance filled with passion and adventure in Budapest. As an expatriate, Maya is very receptive to Raines, and their personalities are so similar that it’s a no brainer. They’re kindred spirits. It has been the MOST ADVENTUROUS experience working on “FBI International.” I literally get to fly out to Budapest, each time we shoot and the cast is such a kind, inviting group. Everyone from the writers, to the crew, and of course the cast are some of the hardest workers I know. They are Incredible. It has been an honor to be a piece of their puzzle.
What other projects you have been part of?
I’ve done a lot of commercials and short films up to this point. I’ve worked with brands like: Peloton, Skechers, and Ross. I worked with, actor/director, Steven Martini on a feature film called “Bittersweet.” That was such a fun experience where I got to play this very straight-laced children’s protective services agent alongside some very funny actors – Gabriela Kulaif, Alyssa Rayomie Tibbs, Joel Michaley, and of course Steven Martini himself. Other than that, I’ve been very blessed to work with creatives like John Geronilla, Adam Leene, Richie Starzec, and Douglas Cushnie on various short films. I also played a pop star, high school student, superhero on the popular children’s YouTube series, “The SuperPops” with some very talented women (Zaria, Scarlet Sheppard, Laura Hall, Olivia Cordell, Jen Barlow, and Tricia Fukuhara) who are now out conquering Hollywood in their own respective ways.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
Right now, I’m interested in showcasing aspects of Latin life that we haven’t seen on screen yet. Sometimes that’s just your everyday American Latino, which can honestly mean so many things from your anime and video game obsessed Latin folks, to the proud, perfectly manicured, girly girls with opinions for days (“the hot Cheeto girls”) to the driven, artistic, highly educated and cultured Latinas and literally EVERYONE in between. There are so many shades of being Latino that we now have the chance to explore! I also REALLY want to do a musical…if you couldn’t already tell. Hahaha
If you weren’t acting, what would you be up to right now?
Ha. I’d probably be teaching, tutoring, or babysitting. Those are all jobs I’ve had in the past, and while I’ve loved all of them, they just weren’t as fulfilling as acting is. Acting is the end all be all… at least for this period of my life.
Which fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life?
I think Miranda Priestly from “The Devil Wears Prada” would be both TERRIFYING and exhilarating to meet. I just want an independence boot camp, the way Anne Hathaway’s character gets in that movie. I love a good breakthrough.
Can you name 3 actors/actresses you would love to work with?
I’d love to work with and learn from Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Elizabeth Olsen. I think they’re all constantly growing as actors… from learning new physicality to understanding new concepts in acting. This is SO my goal as an actor, so to get to work with them would hopefully give me a glimpse into their process. Plus, I think it would help me to grow as an actor to work hard and meet actors like them at their level.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Recently, I attended an event for Latin filmmakers and creatives through a company called, Nosotros. The event was beautiful, but the people who were excited to feel represented on an HBO show… that was a wonderful feeling. I’m so grateful to help other people feel seen. That was something I’d really hoped for when I booked this role. Representation REALLY DOES matter. When you see someone existing in a space you want to be in one day, it gives you hope. I know that’s how I felt seeing Selena (both the actual singer and in the movie). It gave me the courage to pursue my own dreams. To see I’m creating a little a seed of that in the world; that’s just magic.
What’s your advice for the newer actors?
I’d say, take a class, read acting books, watch movies, watch those Hollywood actor roundtables – do anything you can to learn about this business and the craft. Keep your head down and do the work. Learn to ENJOY the process… and unfortunately rejection is a part of that process… so we must learn to find comfort in the uncomfortable. I say all this to that newer actor as much as I’m affirming it for myself.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?
“You set the tone” – meaning in any given space, you have to give yourself the opportunity to be your full self. I’m still learning this, but when I fully commit to doing it, it is so unbelievably freeing.
“Take the time you need” – I mean this in all senses of the phrase. Don’t feel pressured into anything on set, with your representatives or colleagues, or in your personal life. You have the right to say, “I don’t know right now,” to take time to figure it out. However, it’s also important not to take the people you work with for granted and to respect their time. In order to do that, I usually give myself and the others involved a deadline for an answer. That way I have space to think, and they’re not just waiting impatiently.
How would your best friend describe you?
She would probably describe me as funny, hardworking, a little impulsive, a romantic, reliable, trustworthy, open, generous, and caring. She’d also say I’m terrible at reading people sometimes…but that’s also the same quality that allows me to be so welcoming… sometimes to a fault. hahaha
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
I think it might be called, Effervescent Fever Dream, for lots of reasons. On one hand, my personality is both very silly, lively, and I also have anxiety… so my mind just runs rampant. Fever dreams are characterized as very intense… and sometimes I feel like my life and I, are like that. All the overwhelming experiences I’ve had and the beauty in my life, make me feel like I’m Dorothy thrown into that technicolor world in “The Wizard of Oz” sometimes. I’m grateful for it all.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
Create stuff. Keep building that creative community. Write, even if no one thinks it’s good. Just keep writing and trying and learning. And remember, you LOVE this. Even when you want to quit… you know you’re not going to…so give yourself time to feel it, but that rejection isn’t the end of the world or your career by any means. Also you’re going to have SO many adventures and meet so many creative people, so KEEP GOING!
What book should every entrepreneur read?
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Everyone should read that book because you ARE a badass and with the right mindset, you can do anything.
What’s next for Stephanie Hoston in 2023?
I have an episode of FBI International coming out on April 18th on CBS, it will be available for streaming on Paramount+ the same day. Other than that, I’m catching up with family and friends and planning on taking more classes in roller skating, and maybe stunts. I’ll definitely be doing some surfing this summer, and hopefully traveling.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Apple slices and peanut butter are my FAVORITE snack. Shout out to Craft services on Perry Mason for making the BEST Peanut butter, oatmeal, apple sandwiches. Those things were BOMB.
And your favorite cheat food?
OOH. This question is tough… I think my go to is pizza… or chili dogs from my favorite childhood place, Cupid’s Hot Dogs.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Finding inner peace and acceptance.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Definitely Selena. Hands down. Without question. Hahaha I want her to be my best friend. She’s inspiring, TALENTED, beautiful, smart, and funny. Would love to meet her.
Best advice ever given?
Speak what’s on your heart and mind. Sometimes you might have to wait for the opportune moment, but it’s important to be truthful about how you feel. If you keep it all pent up inside, there Will be negative consequences and you deserve to be heard, so don’t keep quiet just to keep the peace. That doesn’t help anyone, it just stalls the inevitable.
Do you support any charity?
I do! I support Celebration Nation which is an organization focused on supporting farmworkers by providing them with food, supplies, and gear they aren’t always given by their employers. I also support the ASPCA, because I absolutely love animals and hate to see them abused or neglected. I have a rescue pitbull named Dream. I also recently attended the Alzheimer’s Association’s Purple Spring Gala in Los Angeles. Very happy to participate in an event for a disease that has affected so many of us including my own family.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I see myself having acted in at least 2 feature length films, but overall, I just hope to be even more involved in my creativity. I hope to be working with inspired creatives in film and tv and continuing to spread that seed of inspiration to others. I hope I’m happy, proactive about my health and relationships, and embracing my authentic self.
Favorite song? Why?
This changes monthly. Hahaha I’d say right now, my favorite is “Eat Your Young” by Hozier… because I love his voice and the musicality of the song. My favorite album at the moment is Raye’s “My 21st Century Blues”. The album shares so many parts of how I feel it is to be a woman. It’s so relatable and her voice and the music are FULL of soul.
What do you think of Social Media?
A blessing and a curse. I love that I can keep up with my friends and social issues and the world. But, if your mental health isn’t in a good place… it’s terrible. I guess what I’m saying is, if you want an Instagram account, you should simultaneously sign up for some sort of therapy. Like it should be a 2 for 1 sort of deal, where you sign up for both automatically.
Where can we follow you?
Book: You Are A Badass – Jen Sincero
Quote: “If you’re serious about changing your life, you’ll find a way. If you’re not, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jen Sincero – You Are A Badass
Movie: “Moulin Rouge”
TV Series: “La Casa de Papel” aka “Money Heist”
French fries…Pizza… Chili Dogs… Cheeseburgers?
OOOH. Or Soul food. LOVE Soul Food.
And panes Salvadoreñas aka Salvadoran sandwiches.
Just give me all the food.
I can’t pick.
Travel Destination: Hawaii please I’ve never been! But also anywhere tropical.
Sports Team: Lakers.
Photo Credit: John Geronilla @johngeronilla