Chrissie Fit hopes Pitch Perfect 2 Latino jokes 'start a conversation'
Not a single person or group is spared from the rapid-fire wisecracks in Pitch Perfect 2. Virtually everyone—from gay people and conservatives to vertically challenged gals (sorry, Anna Kendrick) and Latinos—is skewered in the sequel to the 2012 a capella comedy. “We always tried to find the balance between funny and not offensive,” says Cuban-American actress Chrissie Fit, who joins the franchise as Flo, an immigrant college student with a comedic side. Here, the Disney Channel regular (Teen Beach), 31, talks to EW about landing the role and how her family inspired her to develop her funny bone.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s great to see a Latina join the franchise. I know that will make a lot of Hispanics fans really happy.
CHRISSIE FIT: You have no idea how much that means to me. You start doing this thing because you selfishly want to in the spotlight and be an actress, and then you realize that it’s more than that. I didn’t see myself represented as a little girl, so for me to be in a movie that’s so massive and represent is incredible.
And you’re Cuban, right?
I’m Cuban. Both my parents are Cuban. My grandparents are too. Although I have no idea where Fit comes from. [Laughs] I actually bought a DNA test because I want to look back in my background and see where the heck I come from.
I was going to note that “Fit” doesn’t sound like the typical Latino last name.
Yes. I know. It’s crazy. We come in all shapes, colors. And we should be celebrated.
Which members of your family emigrated from Cuba?
My parents and my grandparents. I’m first-generation American. I grew up in Miami and went to school with a lot of Flos, who’ve emigrated and come here to to school and study so that they can have a better life. My grandfather left Cuba when Castro came into power and literally left everything. He had two suitcases and two kids and showed up in New Jersey and waited for my uncle to meet up with him. Imagine—there were no cell phones back then! It was super scary, you know, but I admire them being so brave in coming here and trying to make a better life for their kids, and ultimately my brother and me, and all of my cousins. People don’t talk enough about that
Oh, I know. There are many challenges that we have as first-generation Hispanics, but it almost pales in comparison to our relatives did for us in immigrated to this country. We have big shoes to fill.
Exactly. I admire them so much, and if they can put themselves out there and do this really crazy thing like moving to a different country where they don’t even know the language, than how am I complaining about trivial things? [Laughs]
I feel the same way. Speaking of challenges, I’m sure every single young actress in town wanted to be in this movie. Can you tell me about the audition process and what it was like to finally get the part?
Nina, I’m going to be straight up with you: I never thought I’d get an audition because the film was just so massive. I’ve been in Los Angeles for so long and I’ve worked so hard, but there are politics involved. I thought, “They probably have offers out to bigger names.” So I literally went into the audition and said, “I’m just going to have a good time with this character.” It was so funny to me. [Screenwriter] Kay Cannon is such an incredible writer and is so hilarious. During that first audition, I immediately connected with Elizabeth Banks. She was there from the beginning and present at every audition. She was really involved. But yeah, I did the scene and I remember Elizabeth said, “That tickles my fancy.” And I was cracking up, because who says that? But it’s Elizabeth Banks! I had two auditions and then it was a month and a half before I found out anything. Then I got the call when I was driving, and two days later I was in Baton Rouge.
You had only two days to pack?
I know, I know. That’s no time at all to pack up your life for three months. I was in such shock after the call that I had to pull over and had to process that information before I drove again because I was in L.A. traffic and it can be a little dangerous.
You must have been so thrilled.
But the time between each of my auditions was so long that I started to just think all these crazy things, you know what I mean?
Did you doubt whether you were good enough for the role?
Yeah. But you cant concern yourself with that stuff though, because like my mom says, “Lo que pa por ti, nadie te lo quita.”
Exactly. “What’s meant for you, no one can take away.” Your character stands out in this film because she has a very specific sense of humor. How did your experience as a first-generation Latina filter into the way you played a character that isn’t afraid of poking fun at a particular experience?
Growing up in Miami, I went to school with multiple people like Flo, you know? They were always the ones who were studying and the hardest working. So I drew from that, and my mom’s experience. Like, if my mom was in college and in an a capella group, she would totally be Flo. [Laughs] I just thought it was really cool that this character isn’t afraid to comment on the things she had to overcome. And every time she comments on another [character’s] problems, it’s because they’re making a big deal out of something that’s essentially very trivial. So I thought that was really fun to play.
How would you describe Flo?
I think she’s very, very smart. She’s sarcastic and dry. She’s a senior and she graduates with honors. She’s very hard working and is unafraid to say whatever comes to her mind. And she’s very brave, essentially. And I loved playing her. She’s just fun, because you never know what to expect.
Did you see the script or know exactly what your character’s brand of comedy was before you committed to the role?
No. Like any big project, it was kept under wraps. For my audition, I had a scene that was somewhat out of context. Not everything made sense. I had to make sense of it all, though I knew right away that she was sarcastic and kind of deadpan from the way that Kay had written her. She gave me one of the best compliments I’ve ever had during my career, which is when we went out to dinner when we were filming in Baton Rouge, she said, “I saw your tape—that’s exactly how I heard the character.” That’s so cool to hear form a writer you admire, you know? Elizabeth Banks, who’s amazing, was like, “Just go with it.” She gave us a lot of freedom to explore our characters.
Did you ever push back once you received the script and saw the types of lines you would have to deliver? You make it comedic, but immigration and deportation are serious subjects.
Yeah, we did. We always tried to find the balance between funny and not offensive. If you notice in the movie, none of the girls make fun of Flo.
Flo makes fun of Flo.
Yeah. No one would dare make fun of Flo. But she’s always making fun of the other girls, and she pokes fun at herself. Deportation and immigration are serious subjects. If I don’t make you laugh, I hope [the movie] starts a conversation about it. Because we do have a problem, and Latinos have a great sense of humor too.
In the film you do some pretty impressive summersaults. Is that really all you?
Girl, that’s not me. It was so funny because I said, the script was very top secret, I didn’t know that was one of Flo’s talents. I get on set and the first thing that Elizabeth asks in rehearsal was “By the way, do you do summersaults? Do you do flips?” And I was like, “Um, what?”
I would have died.
It was really funny. I asked, “Does that mean I don’t have the part anymore?” But she was joking. Although I was a cheerleader in high school, there was no way I could do those somersaults. At the end of the day, you want to be safe! I did some of the easier stuff, but I had a great stunt double that did the very impressive summersaults.
And your voice sounds great. Is singing something you’ve always done?
I was singing before I started acting. As a kid, I would always perform at the big family parties. You know how it is! My mom and dad would be like, “¡Dale dale, canta!” [Sing and dance] I was never shy about performing because I always did it in a warm and inviting environment. I sang throughout school and it was always my passion. For whatever reason, acting took the front seat but all of the projects that I’ve been doing seem to have some sort of musical element to them.
Would you ever consider doing an album?
I would love to do an album. Yesterday I did an interview and I called Pitbull out. I was like, “Can we do a song together?” That would be so fun.
Maybe you and he can do a duet in Pitch Perfect 3.
That would be so fun.
Would you consider joining the third installment?
I love the franchise. We’ll see. I hope that the fans really love Flo and will want to see her story continue..
Since she graduates at the end of the movie, maybe she can come back in the third film as a vocal coach who helps the Bellas.
Maybe. She could add the salsa. I tried to do a salsa move here and there in our routines as often as I could.