Alice Braga on why her Queen of the South character is a woman who kicks ass: 'Teresa is a survivor'
As Alice Braga begins her promotional tour in support of the fifth and final season of USA Network's Queen of the South, she looks back proudly at all she and her character Teresa Mendoza accomplished together.
"What captivated me about the character, years before I shot the pilot when I read La Reina del Sur from Arturo Pérez-Reverte, was that Teresa is a survivor," Braga recounts to EW ahead of the drama's final series premiere on Wednesday, April 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
"This woman is someone who never victimized herself," she continues. "She never feared a challenge or a difficult situation. Teresa always found a way to flip bad situations into something that works to her advantage. She's such an interesting character who always overcomes adversity. What I learned from her is to always look forward toward the future no matter what — keep going!"
Braga understands Teresa is an antihero as a narco queen pin, and one that demands respect from those involved in the heavily male-dominated drug business on both sides of the border
"Teresa is the antihero and the hero of her own life, which is what I enjoyed most about playing her," she shares. "I love that we were able to show all her layers by revealing it little by little, which is the blessing of working on a TV show where you have years to unravel each detail and each secret. I'm so grateful we had five wonderful seasons to tell this story and to show her evolution from a young woman in Culiacán discovering where she belongs to battling a racist, corrupt judge in New Orleans as a total boss. Always surviving and always learning. Yes, she works in the cartel business — not selling ice cream. But there are a lot of lessons within Teresa Mendoza that are worth learning from."
Portraying Teresa required Braga to go into action, literally. Each season has been packed with danger, drama, and fiery explosions coming at the Brazilian actress while simultaneously trying to one-up the bad guys, which is no small feat.
"Before joining the show, I'd worked on some action films but it was nothing like the action I got to be a part of on Queen on the South," Braga says. "That's another thing I loved about being on this show, it was so action-packed! Total dream come true. I was always aware of my limits and knew when it was time to let a professional stunt coordinator take over. I always compare my experience to being inside a video game. Not many people can say they've experienced that."
She continues, "From Teresa, I learned a lot about physical strength because for the past six years I had to be very present in my body and always ready for anything. I did a lot of running and training in preparation for whatever the writers would surprise me with. I feel like I really gave myself to this character while living in her shoes. Teresa did a lot of things I would never do; I would never be a drug dealer. But viewing the world through her eyes was empowering."
Of course, Braga also recognizes that Teresa Mendoza is one of many strong women depicted on Queen of the South.
"The character of Camila Vargas, played by Veronica Falcon, is a badass woman who likes to get straight to the point. She knows what she wants, is very powerful and very intelligent," says the actress.
Adding, "Kelly Anne [Burnett] is this girl who in the beginning you see her being girly and kind of the wife of someone, who turns out to be intelligent, smart, powerful, and the kick-ass girl who survives — who overcomes her struggles from an abusive relationship and thrives," We have really powerful female characters! Of course, I cannot forget to mention Brenda, who was played by Justina Machado, a phenomenal actress."
Watch EW's interview with Braga in the video above.
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