Playing Alma Gutierrez was your first big TV job — were you freaking out a little?
I've done theater and I've done independent film. So doing TV, the pace is just crazy. You get one rehearsal, and they're marking all your lines. And I'm like, "Wait a minute. I don't know if I want to actually put my elbow there, and I don't know if I actually want to stand this way." So it kind of freaked me out there, just having to think very fast and on my feet. You're moving on to the next scene, and you're like, "Holy shit, what happened?" So it was like a crash course in television acting for me.
The Wire creator David Simon is known for his very specific casting. Any idea how you ended up in this role?
Well they called me in to put myself on tape for Carcetti's secretary and the counselor for season four. Then they sent my tape to David and Nina [Noble, producer], and David offered me Alma Gutierrez, which was more than I was expecting. I was looking to just get some work on my reel and possibly get my SAG card. I guess he saw something in me that he wanted for Alma.
Did he ever give you any idea what it was that he liked so much?
No, he didn't, but I've spoken to my husband, Larry Gilliard, who played D'Angelo Barksdale in the first and second seasons, and he pretty much said that David likes to cast people if he sees something in that particular person. They have to have some sort of quality or essence that is the role. I think maybe that's what happened, but I don't know for sure.
Was your husband already on the show when you met?
We were already married with a daughter when Larry got The Wire. And then after they shot the pilot, I became pregnant with our son. So, Larry and I have been together for about 15 years.
What's your acting background like?
I've done some off-Broadway plays, off-off-Broadway. Some PSAs, commercials, some industrials and some independent films — but this is my first really big, big, huge gig.
How did you react when you got the call and found out that you went from hopefully playing somebody's secretary to landing a major role for the final season?