Lauren Luna Vélez, most notably known for her roles as María LaGuerta on Showtime’s Dexter and Detective Nina Moreno on Fox’s New York Undercover, is a major recurring face in the new season of How to Get Away with Murder. The Boricua actor is introduced as the President of Middleton University, where Viola Davis (Annalise Keating) works as a professor—when she’s not covering up murders with her own pupils, of course.
The original casting breakdown described Vélez’s character as “self-assured, friendly, warm and diplomatic.” Vélez, now a few episodes in, likens her character to a political animal with a troublesome past.
“Soraya [Hargrove] believes that you can draw more bees with honey than with vinegar,” she says to Remezcla. “She’s a consummate politician. She tries to do everything with a smile and really just works everything from a very different angle. She’s a good girl. She’s a nice girl. She’s a class valedictorian. She’s that sort of person and as the show progresses, we find out her deep, dark secrets…”
The Brooklyn native also delves into how she landed her new role on the Shonda Rhimes-produced mystery series, finding herself fangirling over Davis’ brilliance and thespian flair.
“I kept speaking to my manager about it and kept saying that there’s going to be something where I’d get to work with Viola and we’re gonna be able to jam together on screen. Sometime in July I went out to L.A. for a meeting and I got a phone call and they said “Do you want to come on the show?” Yes, of course! I was very excited. I met with the showrunner, Peter Nowalk, who’s just wonderful. He said, “Look, it’s gonna be a very slow burn. We really want to move with the character slow and let it grow into whatever it’s going to be in the show,” which has been a really great process. As the storyline unfolds it’s become something I can really sink my teeth into,” she explains, before admitting that working opposite of the Emmy Award-winning actor is nothing short of magical. “And most of my scenes have been with Viola so, how’s that for a dream coming true?”
Vélez, however, has worked previously with the Doubt actor, in a play at the Roundabout Theater called Intimate Apparel. It was after that experience that Vélez, 51, made it a goal to work again with Davis—on screen.