I was 16 when I auditioned for the role of Carmen Lopez. The producers described the character as vulnerable but a fighter, funny but serious all at once. Since the character was only 13, I went to the audition wearing an over-sized fuchsia pink sweater with Winnie the Pooh overalls. I also wore a pair of worn out sneakers I’d had since I was 12 years old. I presented myself to Bruce Helford, the creator and show runner of “George Lopez,” and then I walked into a room full of producers and proudly exclaimed that George’s character reminded me of my own father in Michigan. The room burst out laughing and one of the writers said, “We’re sorry to hear that!” I instantly fell in love with the people in the room who exuded a special warmth that would eventually bloom into friendship the following year.
It took a month before I received a call about final auditions. I continued to act while hoping for the call, and I realized that none of the characters I was portraying at the time carried the same fire I found in Carmen. My second experience auditioning took place at the ABC building. One other girl had gone on before me. She had a huge smile on her face and she looked relieved to have finished! Not a good sign! I breathed deep, filled my aching chest with air, and walked into a dark room. There was a bare stage, with one spotlight and a chair. I stood before what looked to be 90 business people, drenched in darkness, and I relieved my nervousness through a giggle. Everyone laughed, and thus began the most organic audience, actor relationship I have ever experienced. I delved into the scene, my imagination coloring the stage. Relishing in the humor and the sincere dialogue, I fed off of their gifts of laughter.
Auditioning that day was my escape to a world where I didn’t have to be myself for a moment. Wrapping up the last scene and extending my appreciation to the audience, I felt sadness wash over me. My feelings were in stark contrast to the previous actress who appeared ecstatic to leave the dark room. I didn’t want to leave that stage and those kind and professional people. I knew I would miss Carmen. I had already fallen in love with the process of sitcom. Two hours later, the producers called and with one single offer changed my life forever.
Throughout the years, Carmen was a liberating escape for me. I was able to experience moments of high school, lessons with boys, and a rebellious streak that I have yet to experience as Masiela. I can safely say I have lived a colorful life, and I have Carmen to thank.
Constantly evolving and growing with experiences and lessons as the years went by, I could easily sink myself into her skin, and see an ever-changing world through her eyes. There is wisdom about Carmen, a naivety, and an idealism that is all glued together by passion of the rawest form.
Carmen taught me more about boys and rebellion than most of my friends. I often envied her brash, passionate ways. As Masiela, I enjoyed feeling sheltered, compared to Carmen who yearned to escape the confines of a family who couldn’t understand her. She has many warm, endearing qualities. There were times when parents approached me, saying that Carmen reminded them of their daughter—and that is the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.
Whenever I’m asked about my favorite episode it has to be the one titled “Girl Fight” because of its social impact. “Girl Fight” dealt with sexual harassment as Carmen was tormented and harassed by boys.
In that episode, Carmen was forced to confront an ex-boyfriend who spread rumors about her being easy because she wouldn’t sleep with him. To watch tears stream down a girl’s face as she confided crying the entire time Carmen was harassed, because it had happened to her, had a profound impact on me. To hear men admit they felt misty-eyed during that particular episode made me realize that my job as Carmen wasn’t only about performing, it was also about projecting your society onto the television screen. I believe that I was also representing a part of “you” that hopefully you may find in me, as a character. Hearing stories on how certain episodes changed your views, or offered condolence made me realize how truly noble the acting profession can be; how truly and utterly selfless.
Of course, there were funny moments as well! Tripping and falling, spewing bottled water all over me as I heard a revised joke recited for the first time in front of our live audience. After five years, there’s bound to be countless little moments, especially since our job is to make others laugh, and growing as a family along the way.
The George Lopez Show
From 2002 to 2007, Masiela Lusha and Constance Marie starred with George Lopez in this ABC sitcom that focused on the life of a Hispanic man living in Los Angeles. The show traces the misadventures of George at work as a manager for a manufacturing company and as a family man with his wife, mother and kids. His hilarious family life is one of the most memorable aspects of the show especially his relationship with his carefree and sometimes rebellious daughter Carmen, played by Masiela Lusha. The series received numerous Emmy, Image, ALMA, ASCAP, BET, and GLAAD nominations.
Masiela Lusha won two Young Artist Awards in 2003 and in 2004 for Best Actress in a Comedy or Drama for her portrayal of as Carmen Lopez. In 2004, TV Guide ranked the character “George Lopez” #18 in their list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.”