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An Interview with Constance Marie

“She’s a champion of the underdog.”
– Ms. Marie on her character, Nina

Constance Marie
Constance Marie

What does your character, Nina, mean to you?
I like her a lot. I can identify with her because she’s a thoroughly modern women in the sense that she’s a career woman, she has her priorities. She has a little bit of a struggle between sort of old school traditional women’s roles and what she wants her life to be. Her mother’s very traditional, and I think she sort of rejects all that in order to accomplish everything. She got a scholarship to Stanford, she’s very driven, and I can relate to that.

She does have a tendency to go the other way and exclude the softer side of things, and she’s always fighting with her father, which is hysterical because he’s so very much to the right, and she’s very liberal to the left. He’s sort of like Mr. Rush Limbaugh, and I’m the antithesis of that. So it makes for good conversations and good arguments.

She’s like a dog with a bone. Once she grabs a hold of something, she’s not going to let it go. Very principled. She knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and in her life, it doesn’t blend together. And she’s a champion of the underdog, which is what I really, really like about her, and I kind of identify with her in that way. She sees that people need help, and that’s what she’s there for. The one line on her is that she’s the self-appointed savior of the known universe, meaning she’s very bossy, and my fiancÚ will tell you I’m a little bit like that. Just a little bit.

Do you and Nina have anything else in common?
Well, I’m a woman, and I think...I like to think that there’s an inherent strength that we both have. I think that’s pretty much it.

Why is “American Family” important to you?
Oh well, it’s important to me on so many levels. It’s important because one, I think that a lot of the television shows that are on the air now are basically cookie-cutter shows, the same thing done over and over again, the formula, and it gets kind of boring. And plus, they’ve moved it around so fast it’s... you can’t ever like appreciate anything. Two, it’s a show that is about Latinos. There are 35 million of us living in the United States, and we watch normal television. And so I think that a show that addresses the Latino community [is important]. But even more than that, it’s just about family, and it's quality and unique and cutting-edge. That’s why I think it’s very important.

What does family mean to you?
Family to me is foundation. It’s the people that you can call on whether you love them or hate them. When push comes to shove, they’re there for you, and that’s kind of how this family is.

Is anyone in the Gonzalez family like your family?
Well, some of the yelling is kind of like my family. My family was dubbed the loud family, but that was mostly because of my mother. My mother’s actually Jess, but other than that, my family’s not as big. But it’s great to have this extended family, to pretend that I have a big family. We have only two kids in my real family.

© 2004 Public Broadcasting Service. All Rights Reserved.