I had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely Alyssa Diaz who portrays Gloria Cruz on Lifetime’s hit show Army Wives. With the departure of many AW veterans at the end of season 6, Gloria has really been a break out character of season 7. We spoke less than a week before the show’s 7th season finale is set to air and we still don’t know if there will be a season 8. Regardless, it was really great to be able to explore some of Gloria’s journey and hear how Alyssa feels about being part of a show that is so important to so many Americans.
Make sure to tune in for the season finale, this Sunday 6/9 at 9/8c on Lifetime.
You joined the cast last year, what was it like coming on to a show that was already in its 6th season?
“Well, it’s interesting, because when I got the material for the show I had no idea it was going to be what it was in regards to the role and the length of time. Originally, it was scheduled just to be a few episodes. And Jeff Melvoin, our executive producer, was like we’re just trying this character out, seeing what sticks. Because at the time, they didn’t know if they were gonna get renewed again. So it was a whole experiment, and I’m grateful that it worked out and this huge storyline came out of it. It was definitely a pleasant surprise of how it turned out, coming aboard midseason.”
Gloria turned out to be the bridge between the old cast and the new cast since a lot of people left at the end of last season. Who was the hardest person for you to say goodbye to?
“The hardest person for me was Sally Pressman [Roxy LeBlanc] because I did most of my scenes with her, and even character-wise I kinda stepped into her place, ya know managing the Hump Bar and it was a similar archetype of a character and Sally really did welcome me with open arms, so it was hard to see her go.”
That’s interesting, I never really thought about how there’s so many similar characteristics between Gloria and Roxy in terms of where they come from and what it’s like adjusting to being on an Army base. So, the flip side of that is you’re now the one welcoming the new cast. How was that for you?
“I loved it. I love each and every person they’ve brought on board, they’re all fantastic and very talented. I threw a party, a dinner party, had everyone come over just to break the ice. It was fun, it was such a fun season, and we brought on a lot of useful characters. Like Elle McLemore plays Holly, she’s fantastic and young and really fun and Torrey DeVitto. Just a lovely bunch of ladies, and men, I really was enjoying the storyline with the guys this year. It just felt like this season was very complete.”
That actually brings me to my next question. It seems from following the cast on twitter and seeing the photos that you all post of each other that you’re having a really good time working together, and having a lot of fun on set. Would you say that’s accurate? Is there a good dynamic on the set?
“Yeah absolutely, we’re definitely a family on the show. You know, I go out with the girls, the guys go work out together, it’s definitely very special. It’s a special show to work on with the cast and the crew. I couldn’t ask for a better show to work on. Everyone’s really lovely.”
Speaking of your castmates, one of your fans on twitter [@ThisGurlAsh] wants to know who the funniest person is in the cast.
“Hmmm. The funniest person…well, besides myself? [laughs]…who cracks me up? Ya know, Elle [McLemore] really makes me laugh. She is hilarious, I love working with her.”
Switching gears for a moment, sometimes because of the subject matter, Army Wives can get very intense. What’s it like representing such heavy experiences for America?
AD: It’s an honor to represent military families on the show. These families sacrifice so much and are so committed and graceful with how they handle situations. To send your loved one away, not knowing if they’re going to come back or not. To still hold your pride and still keep it together, these women and these families are just very brave. I’m very fortunate and very excited to be a part of something that speaks to many of our citizens.
Do you guys do a lot of outreach with military families? Is there a lot of interaction?
“We do, actually. I’m here in New York and a few days ago our show got awarded by Give an Hour, which is an organization that trains medical professionals to do one-on-one therapy with war veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress. So, definitely I know our Executive Produce Jeff Melvoin reaches out and makes sure that we’re on point in addition to working with different organizations and collaborating.”
Ok, so let’s take things back to Gloria. I think what a lot of people want to know is…would you say you fall on Team Hector or Team Patrick?
“Oooh I knew you were going to ask me that! I don’t know, is it fair for me to say who I choose? It’s very hard. When I got the final script, I had to call Jeff, and say “who does Gloria pick?” because I was so torn. And the way they set it up, it makes it a very hard decision, it could go either way. I mean, I know my decision now, but it was really difficult to choose. I’m gonna leave it at that.”
What’s been your favorite episode or moment of season 7?
“Honestly, my favorite moment was the episode that we all went to the casino. It was just so much fun and to be with all the ladies and not necessarily just doing the scene stuff but just going to the casino and gambling and it was a really fun episode.”
Ok, my last Army Wives question is – if the show were to be renewed for an 8th season, which obviously we’re all hoping it will be, what would you want to see in terms of Gloria’s storyline and development?
“I would like to see just how she deals with getting involved with someone in the military. Right now she’s in the deciding stage of who to go with. And how she handles a new relationship after her heartbreaking divorce or getting back together with Hector – just having a second chance at love.”
Final question for Alyssa, leaving Gloria behind, can you tell me about any other upcoming projects you have or stuff you’re working on?
“My fans can catch me on episodes of Vampire Diaries, Revolution. The Last Ship they aired the pilot, I was a part of that, which is a show on TNT. [scheduled for 2014 premiere]. Red Dawn is out on DVD, so definitely take a look. Right now I’m enjoying my summer.”
That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Alyssa, for talking with me. I’ve been a fan of Army Wives since the beginning. I started watching it on a whim and just got addicted. And like a lot of fans of a long term show, I was very nervous when the tide started changing and all the original cast members started leaving, but I’m really impressed with the way this new cast has come in and the way the storylines have been riveting and interesting to watch. And I really hope you guys get another season.
“Thank you, that’s so nice to hear, especially from someone who’s been a fan of the show since the beginning.”