Latina beauty Florencia Lozano is holding it down for Hispanic women on daytime television. As passionate legal eagle Tea Delgado, Lozano has been giving Blair Cramer (Kassie De Paiva) a run for her Manning (Todd that is, played by Trevor St. John) on and off since 1997. Lozano reprised the popular role in December 2008 and fans, new and old ,have been cheering ever since. In late 2009, Llanview lovers learned Tea had been keeping one whopper of a secret from Todd—his teenage daughter Danielle, played by breakout newcomer Kelley Missal.
I caught up with Lozano at the recent party One Life to Live held to celebrate moving into their new studios. We chatted about what it means for Lozano to represent Latina women on daytime. We also dished about why Lozano feels the Tea/Blair rivalry is so popular, what it's like working with her new TV daughter, as well as her fictionalized stepdaughter Starr (portrayed by Kristen Alderson, whom Lozano first started working with when Alderson was a small girl) and why Lozano feels Latina American telenovelas are doing so well, while U.S. soaps are seeing viewer erosion. I also threw Lozano the same question I asked DePaiva this past January— What is it about Todd Manning that drives Tea and Blair so crazy?
Daytime Confidential: As Tea Delgado, you are one of the few representations of strong, Latina females on daytime. Do you hear from a lot of fans who are inspired by your portrayal of Tea?
Florencia Lozano: Yes, it seems to have inspired people that One Life to Live has a strong, educated Latina. I think its rare, and I think its important to have that.
DC: Todd is the love of Tea's life, yet she withheld the knowledge of their child from him. Wouldn't it have been easier to reveal Danielle's existence to challenge Blair's standing in Todd's life?
FL: [Laughs]. Well the fact is that, Tea didn't know she was Todd's [child] for a long time. It's one of those things where she just had a subconscious thought in the back of her head, that was until Danielle was a little older, and she started to see the little similarities between Danielle and Todd.
DC: So she starting seeing sort of Todd-esque behaviors in Dani?
FL: Yeah! [Laughs] Just little things, like the way they laugh the same, or the way their features changed things, things like that. Then she really thought out loud "She could be Todd's!" Just from that one time! [Laughs]
DC: OLTL has a history of popular female rivalries, from Dorian and Viki to Nora and Lindsay and of course Blair and Tea. What do you think makes your character's fierce rivalry with Kassie DePaiva's Blair such a hit with the fans.
FL: The fact that we have so much fun with it. We're very different as people and we love each other a lot, so we trust each other to really hate each other on camera. Opposites attract. Also, we challenge each other, that's what makes it work with Tea and Blair.
DC: I asked this to Kassie back in January, and she gave me a very funny answer. What is it about Todd Manning that two strong, fierce women like Tea and Blair can't seem to get enough of him?
FL: And what did she say? [Laughs]
DC: She said its something that they can't show on TV.
FL: Oh snap! [Laughs] I think actually there's a level of damage that both Tea and Blair have in their past and in their childhood. I think for Tea, being pushed away feels like love; it's something that really draws her to Todd. That constant struggle between them feels to her like love.
DC: What is it like playing Tea this time around as a mother? You really do not look like you could be a 15-year-old's mother!
FL: God bless you! Both my sisters are moms, and it's a real gift as an actor to get to play something that I'm not in real life because I can't imagine loving someone that much and being responsible for them. It really makes me look at life differently. It adds a whole new dimension to who Tea is, because she's not just thinking about herself and her emotions first anymore. She's thinking about someone else.
DC: You and Kelley Missal, who plays Danielle, have amazing chemistry. What's your process for connecting with your new TV daughter onscreen?
FL: You know it was just a very sort of an organic thing. We're getting to know each other as people just as we were getting to know each other as actors, and she is very natural. She's a natural in front of the camera. We kind of push each other and we both understand each other. Kelley makes it easy being with her both on camera and off.
DC: While Danielle is Tea's first biological child with Todd, Tea has always been close with Todd and Blair's children—notably Starr—what's it like working with a now grown-up Kristen Alderson?
FL: It's so wild because I remember working with her when she was so small! She has really become a beautiful, young woman, I admire her a lot. I just love Kristen, and obviously Tea loves her [Starr]. It's always wild to watch these young women on soaps, and just think about how much we have to teach them and the level of trust. I feel slightly protective. They are very together, both Kelley and Kristen, and I always like to keep an eye on them.
DC: While the U.S. soaps seem to be struggling with viewer erosion, Latin American telenovelas are flourishing. Do you watch novelas? if so, why do you think they are so successful?
FL: I've never watched any Latin American soaps and I think without generalizing too much, Latino culture and temperament lends itself to melodrama in a way that comes very naturally. We tend to have big emotions and show them in a big way. There isn't the level of repression that people have in this country, so I think it comes more naturally through our sensibility. That's a huge generalization and I'm sure a lot of people may say, "Oh that doesn't mean me! That's stereotyping!," but I found in my family growing up, we would scream and shout, cry and laugh, all that stuff was loud. While a lot of people that I grew up around had a very different experience. They didn't fight openly. They were soft-spoken and they kept all their anger inside, whereas we don't tend to do that as much.
Photo Credit: Donna Svennevik/ABC