Stephanie Beatriz Says Encanto’s Mirabel Is The Character Most Like Her – Exclusive
Some fictional characters are so iconic that they become easily confused with the actors who play them. William Shatner is not Captain James T. Kirk from “Star Trek,” and Sarah Michelle Gellar is not Buffy Summers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” In more recent pop culture history, Stephanie Beatriz is not Rosa Diaz from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
That last example is surprising on some very specific levels, perhaps most notably in the tone of voice Beatriz speaks in when playing Rosa Diaz. For Diaz, Beatriz pitches her voice down low while gruffly deadpanning her lines. In real life, though, Beatriz’s voice rests at a much higher register.
After eight seasons of playing Rosa Diaz, Beatriz is breaking out into many roles which are totally different from the character that established her name. Some of those new roles come courtesy of her work with Lin-Manuel Miranda. She plays Carla in the film adaptation of Miranda’s Broadway show “In the Heights,” and, more recently, she’s taken on the role of Mirabel in Disney’s latest animated musical, “Encanto.”
Unlike Rosa Diaz, despite the fact that Mirabel exists in a magical world where people have abilities like super strength, the ability to communicate with animals, or control the weather, Beatriz says that Mirabel is closer to her own self than perhaps any other role she’s played.
Mirabel and Beatriz are very similar and it's more than their voices
It wasn’t easy being cast as Mirabel, according to Stephanie Beatriz. Neither of her roles in “In The Heights” or “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” automatically secured her a spot as the lead of a Disney animated film. “I auditioned for this role, I got with my vocal coach, and worked on a song, and turned in that song, and then turned in the scene, and then waited and crossed my fingers, and here we are,” she explains to Looper in an exclusive interview, where she was joined by John Leguizamo.
There’s one other thing that probably helped Beatriz land the role of Mirabel: She and the character she plays are pretty alike. “Yes, she absolutely is the closest to me,” Beatriz said. “She’s the most vocally, she’s the closest to my actual voice, but I also think her insecurities and the things that she is going through in the film are also the closest to journeys that I’ve actually had as a person, on playing it. I think I’ve gone through a lot of … not that everyone that I know is magical, but I have a lot of amazingly talented, brilliant friends. And so it can often be this moment of going, ‘Oh, everyone’s doing such incredible stuff, I don’t know if I have anything to say!’ Or my teenage years, where I was just like, ‘I don’t know, man, this, I seem like I’m a mess. Why even try, everyone’s so amazing?’ I know that.”
Fortunately for Disney and their animation studio’s fans, Beatriz pushed passed her anxieties to bring Mirabel to life in a way that weaves a really touching and relatable story to life about finding family even through feelings of inadequacy and alienation.
“Encanto” is in theaters now.