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An Interview with Raquel Welch

“She believes in having dreams, that that’s what makes life worth living” – Ms. Welch on Dora

Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch

Describe your character, Dora.
Well, I don’t really know how people really perceive Dora, but I would say that Dora really is a big romantic. [You really see it in] the third episode. She revisits her big romantic love of her life. And actually, he kind of shows up into her world again, and they have a kind of a rocky past history together. It’s kind of nice because, well, it’s very melodramatic, but there’s something about being swept away by emotions that we don’t allow ourselves to do as modern women.

We’re much too tightly wrapped for that. We don’t let men come into our lives and upset the apple cart. That’s what we say we don’t do, but of course, everybody, and I think particularly women, have all had somebody in their past that has captured their romantic soul, and they never ever replaced that special person. And even though they might meet other people and maybe marry other people, they have that memory of the romantic love that they are not able to ever come back to in their lives. So I think that that’s the part that I like about her. She’s not jaded, and she’s this romantic character. She gets swept away, she still believes in wishing on a star, and she believes in having dreams, that that’s what makes life worth living.

And I think that probably the thing that’s not her best friend is that she’s not very practical. She just gets carried away by the emotions.

Are you like Dora?
Well, I’ve had a lot of experience in life. I do have two children, I don’t have any grandchildren – unfortunately, my kids are not cooperating. At one point in life you feel like you have a better understanding of the weight of lots of different experiences. So I think I bring my experience of life to [Dora], and I think I do also have a very positive kind of spirit, so I think that that’s part of Dora, too. I also think that I am a romantic. Dreams to me are also really important, to always have a dream, always have something that you’re looking forward to, that you can sort of put your heart in line with that dream, with that goal, with that special wish.

So I think those things are part of me, and I don’t usually allow those things to move me around too much at this point in my life because I did that so much when I was younger. I think that the difference between she and I is that at this point in my life, I wouldn’t be, I don’t think, quite as swept away as she is by the situation. I think I would be a tougher nut to crack. I would just not take any nonsense from this guy. But who knows? Depends on the guy, I guess.

How did you get involved in the series?
Well, I basically got involved in being part of “American Family” because of Gregory Nava and my respect for him and his talent, and also because I am of Latin heritage on my father’s side, and yet I am sort of Midwestern-American Anglo-Saxon on my mother’s side. I’ve had this kind of a split personality most of my life and my career, so this gave me an opportunity to really be in an all Latin cast with a Latin creator, director, writer, and sort of feel like finally I can embrace that part of my own history.

Because my father came to this country in the ‘30s and like many in his generation, [he] wanted to eradicate all the signs of being different, of being Latino, of speaking the language or speaking English with an accent, any of that was really...I wonder if it was a taboo because I wasn’t there, but I just...just from his reaction I think that it couldn’t have been very easy. The idea was to fit in and be American first. And although there are many good things to be said about that because we all are Americans here in this country, I do think that men of my father’s generation and maybe the women, too, maybe sort of lost a piece of themselves in doing that.

And so as I’ve gone on in my life, it has affected me and made a little sadness, a little kind of emptiness, that I never was able to really look at and get into. And so for me this is a very, very fulfilling experience in that sense.

And then I do think that it is a much easier time to be Latino or Latina and have that on the forefront because times do seem to be changing because of the demographics in this country, and I think it makes us all more comfortable in the Latin part of our nature. And I think that it’s nice to just take this opportunity as Gregory has to show all Americans kind of what we’re like, that we really have a lot of similarities, but there are different flavors and there are different attitudes, but there’s a kind of a common ground in being an American and in being just a person.

How do you think viewers will respond to the program?
It’s a program for everyone and it’s just about family and people, and we’re all sisters and brothers under the same skin all over the world. So I think that they’re going to feel a sense of identity, but I think that hopefully the stories are all interesting and I think that [the viewers] are going to enjoy the storytelling about it. Gregory likes to tell stories, very sentimental, heartfelt, emotionally full stories. So if you like that kind of thing, I think you’re going to love the series.

What does family mean to you?
Family is really everything, family is the heart and soul of the matter. It’s also the most difficult thing in the matter, but I think that this is – who you really are – is your family, and each person in the family is a reflection of you.

And so I do think that all the things that we strive for in life begin at home. So if we can respect our parents and get along with our siblings, and if we can raise children that we protect and nurture, all of those things, and also take care of the grandparents and make sure that they are okay in old age and all those things, if we say we want to to be good people, then it should be reflected in our family first. [Because then] it just keeps growing and multiplying outside of the nucleus of the family, first with you and then how you treat other people, and it starts at home.

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