Aimee Carrero is one of those multi-faceted actresses that audiences might recognize from a little bit of everything. Carrero is the most recent recipient of The Newport Film Festival’s Breakout Award, which serves as a well-deserved acknowledgment of her extensive work; she’s the voice behind Elena in Disney Channel’s Elena of Avalor, was nominated for an Imagen Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role in Netflix’s The Maid, and recently made her Los Angeles Theatre debut in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Puerto Rican and Dominican actress is a personified example of dedication to the craft. She’s acting in multiple films this year, including Mark Mylod’s The Menu, and will star in Amazon’s upcoming series The Consultant. We spoke with Aimee about her busy year and the sacrifices it takes to be a successful performer across various industries of entertainment.
How did you first find your affinity for acting?
I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I knew I wanted to be an actor. But I do have very specific memories of going to see a piece of theater, or ballet, or film as a child and feeling deeply moved. I learned at an early age the power of performance in peeling back the layers of humanity. Good art, in my opinion, reveals to us our truest selves. That’s a gift I am constantly receiving as an audience member, and one I love giving in return.
Your three films from this year (The Menu, Spirited, and Mack & Rita) are all comedies, but take on different senses of humor. How do you channel these varying styles in your characters?
Comedy, no matter the style—broad, understated, satirical, farce—must always have an undercurrent of truth. A joke is only funny if the audience recognizes it as true. This is why inside jokes don’t work on a total stranger. As for channeling different comedic styles, it’s basically just zeroing in on the tone of the piece. For this, I rely on the director. Mark Mylod (director of The Menu) was very specific about the tone he wanted to achieve in the film. He wanted the dialogue to feel authentic, extemporaneous, and under-played. The comedy in The Menu is restrained and so therefore the delivery must be restrained.
You’re currently filming for the series The Consultant. What can you tell us about working on this project?
The absolute highlight of working on The Consultant has been the incredible cast. Christoph Waltz is one of the most interesting actors to watch in that his character choices are always surprising. It’s been an incredible honor to work with a performer of that caliber. I’ll never be able to thank Tony Basgallop (our creator and showrunner) for writing me such a meaty character in Patti. Nat Wolff and Brittany O’Grady are a dream to act with. They are so talented, kind, generous with their creativity and time. We’ve had a ball on this show, and I hope it shows.
You also recently had a theatrical role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? How did you get into theater, and how do you find this medium compared to your film/TV work?
Theater is where my heart is. I’ve had the great fortune of working in 2 off-broadway plays in NYC. Originating a role in a John Patrick Shanley play is an experience I will always pinch myself over. Similarly, taking on the role of “Honey“ in Edward Albee’s classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a dream come true. Latino actors are routinely excluded from classic period pieces because they were written for white performers. I’m forever grateful to The Geffen Playhouse for their forward-thinking, inclusive vision. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a famously brutal piece. It’s a 3 act, 3.5 hour, 2 intermission play. I have very few memories of that time, mainly due to the exhaustion of doing the play and also filming The Consultant on my only day off (Mondays). They are different mediums—theater is a medium of language, television and film are mediums of visuals/pictures. On stage, you are always visible—your entire body is in view of the audience at all times (unlike on-screen closeups etc), you also tell the story beginning to end every night. It’s athletic in a way that most film and television isn’t. By the end of our 52-show run, I felt like I‘d run 52 marathons.
This has been a busy year for you, with several projects coming out and recently winning Breakout Performance Award at Newport Beach Film Festival. How have you taken care of yourself and balanced between public and private life?
I haven’t really, if I’m being honest! It’s taken me 13 years to get to this point in my career and I’m doing everything I can to expand on the moment. I went so long without working that now I work myself to the point of exhaustion. I worked from January to June without a single day off. I was performing in a play 8 shows per week and shooting a tv show on my only days off from the theater which were Mondays. I have almost no memories of that time because I was on survival mode. I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve run into recently that I’ll say, 'I haven’t seen you since before the pandemic!' to and they’ll say, “Um, I came to see your show in April remember? We had a long chat after?' My best friend and I have conversations about this a lot: if life is a garden, we have to water *all* the plants otherwise the garden will not survive. Water, in this metaphor, is time and energy—those are not limitless resources. So, we prioritize, we make cuts, we siphon from one plant to give to another. Every minute I spend working is a minute I don’t get to tend to my personal life. Thankfully, I have a partner who understands all of this on a cellular level and is my teammate in every way. It is harder for my loved ones who are not in the entertainment industry to understand why I can’t make it to Thanksgiving, or a wedding, or a special event. It hurts them and how could it not? The message is clear: I am prioritizing my work over your (fill in the blank). The pursuit of anything comes at a price, a sacrifice. But that sacrifice is not only mine, it affects everyone around me as well. I’m really looking forward to the holidays—it’ll be the first time in a year that I’ll have nothing to do but water all of my parched plants.
How are you keeping your heart open these days?
Taking a few minutes before bed to meditate on the things I’m grateful for. Reaching out to friends, even if I can’t see them in person. Trying to savor the little time off I do have by putting my phone away, reading books, taking a nap with my dog curled up next to me. My husband has the flexibility to be able to travel with me and that has been a life saver. Going to sleep every night holding his hand is the ultimate balm for my soul.
Photographed by Tina Turnbow
Styled by Brad Goreski
Hair: Marco Santini.
Makeup: Tina Turnbow.