Looking for a movie to watch this weekend, might we suggest Undercover Holiday? It’s one of The Hallmark Channel‘s Countdown to Christmas movies and it’s definitely one that we enjoyed. It was different than anything that we’d seen on the channel.
The premise, “When returning home for the holidays, newly minted pop star Jaylen tells her protective family that her overzealous security guard Matt is, in fact, her new beau.”
Noemí González stars in the film and is a name that you should know. If you don’t you’re missing out on a talent that you should know. She studied at the prestigious UC Santa Barbara Drama School and received a BFA in acting. She’s been seen in such movies as This Fool and The Valet. She’s starred in the Netflix series, Selena. She was a series regular in Dark/Web, The Young and The Restless and East Los High.
She is an actress that you should know the name of and definitely one that we enjoyed talking to.
Fangirlish: In your career, you picked some amazing roles and I’m a huge Christmas movie buff I watch them all the time. Why Undercover Holiday? I think it’s a great role and you did a great job with it, but what made you choose to take on the role and why would this movie?
Noemi: Luckily, I’m blessed that they approached me and I’m humbled that I was able to read such a beautiful script by Nina Weinman, and I’m only as good as the writing. This script was just so beautiful because it was so much more than just I don’t how romance in the holidays, it’s about family and being welcoming to culture and opening up your heart. It was really nice to have that be the theme with my Mexican-American heritage being brought to the forefront for this character introducing it to a bodyguard/potential love interest. That was a big yes for me that had so much of heritage in my background, but also the singing element. I really enjoy that as well, so it was such a blessing to take this role.
Fangirlish: You have an amazing voice, and I loved the whole pop star bodyguard thing because I think for so many it’s not something that we normally would see in a Christmas movie, it felt like something completely different. How important was the role though, because the representation in it and your families traditions, how important was that to you and why was that important to show?
Noemi: It was really important for the role because everyone is very particular on their individual holiday tradition. During this time of year everyone is very particular because it just reminds them of home and good times. You’re looking for the warmth in family and in friends and giving and receiving loves and gifts and all the religious and spiritual aspects that are the fundamental reasons why we celebrate during this time.
Why would you ignore a Latinx background during this time of year and why wouldn’t anyone just be so curious about what those traditions are? It’s really fun to do these interviews because I talk about what every ones– that lightning speed question is what’s your favorite food during the holidays and it is tamales and Pozole? Some people are surprised, but that’s literally what I expect when I get home. Just someone might expect anything else that for me it’s tamales and pozole, and I hope that encourages people to go try tamales and pozole because when we had our scene, 90% of the crew did not have a tamale before in their life, and Jenny and Cassandra are two women from Guatemala that have tamales service.
They produced tamales heavily and they gifted the crew tamales because they hadn’t tried one before, but we’re filming it. It was really beautiful to share our culture and that’s very Mexican American. We’re very, very welcoming. I don’t know if you caught them in the World Cup enjoying being in Qatar and giving their traditions and recipes and vice versa and dancing with individuals there. We’re just a very welcoming people and we always want the merrier at a fiesta or at the tamales. I think it’s really beautiful to share that with a holiday time that is so more the merrier.
Fangirlish: I have had the tamales, but I’ve never had– what was the other one? Pozole, I’m sorry.
Noemi: No, you’re quite right. No worries. I appreciate when anyone tries to pronounce anything. P-O-Z-O-L-E.
Fangirlish: What is that, just so I know, because I’m going to look it up and try it.
Noemi: No worries, so you can get this option vegetarian vegan if you need, but ultimately the most traditional is a tomato pork soup that has hominy in it, so very Mexican indigenous it’s very, very warm and inviting. It’s very flavorful. My favorite pozole, you can make red pozole, green pozole so white pozole, depends on the ingredients, but they all have a very nice savory Mexican soup quality to them. I highly recommend that you try it should you ever find a restaurant that has it on special on Fridays or Something.
Fangirlish: One of the things that I love about every role I’ve seen you and this will sound heavy for a second is that I feel that acting is your art. It’s not just your job per se. I feel it’s more of a part of who you are, a need for expression, and I could be wrong, but why do you feel that acting is your calling?
Noemi: Oh, you’re absolutely right. Listen, I’ve been telling some people that acting found me. I went through some stuff as a humble kid growing up and I channeled everything through songs, and then as I got older I thought I was going to be a music teacher because in the 90s you just thought if you don’t hit it at 18, hit the ground running in New York or LA you’re not going to be a singer. I took inspiration from my music teacher and I was going to be a music teacher, and that’s when my good friend Loreli who is the reason why the name is Lolai in this movie.
It’s a little spoiler for you all that Loreli begged me to audition to be an actor and for the acting program at UC Santa Barbara. I was so no way. Those guys and they’re all black and yoga pants walking around campus in this department area. They’re the gods of the campus in that area, just the USC footballers are the gods of their campus knowing they’re going to be national players later. To me, I didn’t want to audition and I got in and Loreli was a complete angel about it. Ultimately I just feel I’m very spiritual and I have plans and God laughs at my plans, and part of him laughing at my plans was thinking that I was going to be a music teacher and instead I’m an actor, and not only am I an actor that I originally thought I would be in.
So many things and nobody know my name and I keep my privacy. Ultimately I’m doing this movie where there’s tons of people watching and enjoying and I’m really humbled, and so I don’t deny what I think is my journey through creators. I just follow my instinct and stay connected to the source, and for some reason, these characters unfold parts of me, or they for some reason connect me to my fan base or to the world, and it’s nice to leave my cultural footprint and my essence and hope that I serve humanity by doing a good job.
Fangirlish: I promise this will be the last heavy question, but one thing–
Noemi: No worries. I really don’t mind heavy or deep. You’re totally fine. I’m actually quite deep. I’m like, “Oh, they probably want me to lighten it.”
Erin, I do have some light questions, but I also feel one of the great things about you being on a Hallmark movie and being out on the Hallmark channel is that you’re such an advocate for so many things. From mental health to immigration rights and the Latinx community and things like that. I feel one thing that’s been a huge change in Hallmark is really embracing all different types of people and communities. I also love that you definitely use your platform and your public voice for good, and why is it so important to you to use that voice and give a voice to the voice list? I think so many actors would just be like, “Okay, I’m going to go do my job and I’m not going to make any waves,” but I think it’s so important that you do that and I just want people really to know about it.
Noemi Thank you. That’s really, really humbling because the world we’re in right now is filled with cancel culture and, so much, bigotry and denial of inclusion and denial of where we don’t include people. Ultimately it’s because I’m connected to source. It’s because I’m connected to light to God and God is love. If God is first then we would be including everyone and it’s not up to me to judge, but I am going to use my voice for good as I am and my acting through my characters and through the choices I decide to take on in the bookings.
I’m also doing it via social media via talk to you all, just because I know what it feels like, and happens when someone turns a cheek or you don’t fight for someone because they’re not from your background. Then it’s the famous proverb, suddenly you look around and no one’s there to fight for you. Robin Williams is a big inspiration to me. Jim Carey is a big inspiration and Robin Williams specifically has such an emphasis on humanity. That’s ultimately what we can all, really connect with and strip all the politics and just get down to humanity.
I would not be doing this with dignity and grace if I turned a cheek and only thought about my pocket and didn’t acknowledge the fact that I’m a POC queer woman and that I could use my voice for good in times that are so turbulent where the negative criticisms are so much louder these days. I do think it’s social media – there’s been no training on how to have social media etiquette and how to be decent. We were taught to leave criticism or a review when things are negative at a restaurant but how often do we leave reviews when it’s great and wonderful? Typically, the ones that are louder are the ones that are negative. I have to use my platform for positivity because the world just needs that.
Fangirlish: Jaylen’s personality, in the movie, I felt she had such a zest for life. Literally watching her, you just get happy. No matter what she’s going through, you feel like she has a purpose and she’s going to get through and her love for her family, her love for her fans, all of these things. What part of her is most like you and what was the hardest part of her to play because it’s not like you?
Noemi: I think the part that my closest friends keep sending me back footage of my scene with Steven where I’ve convinced him to go along with this and one of the last things you hear me say to convince him. everyone’s friends with me, my love, they were just like, “This is so you.” It was wonderful to play Jaylen because I feel like she’s the closest to me.
I feel like Soly Gomez, Suzette, and now Jaylen, but Jaylen especially was probably the closest to me. I guess that, vibrancy that she excudes is definitely, me in private, where I’m comfortable. I don’t know what was the hardest. It was ultimately being cognizant of taking on a lead role for the first time and being cognizant of the cultural elements and responsibility. I just get really nervous. I think it shows sometimes with singing or dancing. I’m a cancer, so I’m a crab, and I get a really in my shell.
When I’d have those days and I still had to perform I think that was the hardest. That’s everybody. That happens with everyone. I guess the high pressure of the whole job was what, every once in a while felt like a challenge, but not necessarily the character if that makes sense. The character itself felt very me, but making sure that tamale were right. Making sure that people felt seen was very important. Not necessarily a challenge, just a very big responsibility.
Noemi: I just honestly look forward to being with my family. I know it sounds cheesy, but that’s what I look forward to. I look forward to– I have my niece when she was getting presents before she would unwrap the gift, she hugged everyone in the room thinking that’s what you do. She didn’t even open a present.
Those core memories with family are big. You see the traditional music of Christmas, but then you also hear the elderly Latinos singing salsa or Mariachi and you don’t hear them sing and suddenly you’re like, “Oh, they used to be a singer when you were young like wow. Making those core memories of family is the number one, I think.
Fangirlish: That’s absolutely amazing. Your holiday sounds like a party. I love that
Noemi: Oh yes. I should have said tequila.
Fangirlish: I just have one final question for you because I was going through your Instagram and I love your Instagram by the way. I went deep and I was a year ago, which really, you don’t put– I feel like a stalker saying this, but I went a year ago and I saw that you were a yellow belt. Just seeing the video, I was like, “Dang, she’s badass.” Have you progressed from there because are you still a yellow belt?
Noemi:Unfortunately am still a yellow belt, mainly because I got injured and then I started working, so I got taken away from focusing on that if that makes sense. I did the text collector with David Aer, where he had us required to do three hours of rehearsal and three hours in a dojo. That was my intro to Kenpo karate, which is why I have that yellow belt.
I learned jujitsu there, boxing and I’m still at home sometimes doing the moves and it works immensely on set. I had to do several stunts for this recent shoot and I’m falling and breaking on the ground the way a fighter would because it’s just been ingrained. Unfortunately, I haven’t progressed but I’m really thankful for the training because it definitely served me to be a warrior on set and take anything on.
Have you watched Undercover Holiday? What do you think? What have you seen