Every week, Power‘s Lela Loren, who plays the feisty, determined Angela Valdez, is bringing EW behind the scenes of every episode. Take it away, Lela…
When Elizabeth Rodriguez (she plays Paz) comes to set, I do the happy dance. It’s the closest thing in life that comes to a grown up play date. From the moment we met season 1, which was actually right before shooting my first scene of the series (it’s when James and Angela go to lunch), we were two peas in a pod. While I won’t admit to this entirely, there may have been moments in our history where we’ve gotten a “girls, pay attention” from our director because we were deep in catch-up mode, running our mouths like there was no tomorrow. One thing to know about Elizabeth: She is a whirl of vitality. The set gets a kinetic jolt as soon as she walks in and everyone is energized.
So, obviously my favorite scene to shoot was “when Paz comes to dinner.” (As a side note, ladies, Omari Hardwick doesn’t actually cook in real life. But he sure looks good faking it, doesn’t he?) Ruby Moshlak, our props department head, ordered the phenomenal paella from Queens Natural Meats, whose owners, Will and Francesca, use an old school paella pan and organic ingredients. Yes, I admit we are spoiled! And while not a whole lot of eating happened on-camera, we really went in off-camera. By the time we finished the scene, Elizabeth, Omari, and I were legitimately stuffed to the brim. The spicy sausage in it was so good, and our Nick DeTitta, also in props, kept having to fix the continuity because I continued to pick the sausage out of the set platter. Sorry Nick! (So not sorry.)
Another hallmark of episode 4, “Don’t Worry, Baby,” is that it’s the first episode written by Heather Zuhkle and directed by Larysa Kondracki. In an industry still dominated by men, working with a female director on an episode written by a woman, helmed by a female showrunner, all while doing scenes with your screen sister is like getting to see the big five at the wild animal park. It’s awesome. Beyond Larysa’s talent, her stoic wit, had me in stitches daily. My favorite deadpan quip from her was when she referred to my hair as “the wall of drama that blocks my acting.” Heather would give me a knowing nod from the back, because she has about six times the amount of hair I do (I’m not exaggerating) that she keeps sequestered in the most glorious beehive bun atop her head, studded with pens. We both spent our childhoods grasping onto the bathroom counter screaming while our mothers raked the knots out of our hair. I’m not gonna lie, I often have fantasies of shaving it all off, but Courtney doesn’t even let me start to pitch the idea where Angela shaves her head before I get a “Hell no!”