We all know her as Celia Flores from Fear the Walking Dead, housekeeper to the Abigail’s, surrogate mother to Thomas Abigail, and mother to Luis. This gorgeous, talented lady has rocked it on both television and movies, from The Fosters to Dallas to A Haunted House, and everything in between. Look how beautiful she is here with that dazzling smile!
Let’s see what Marlene has to tell us about her life and acting.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Havana Cuba. And I was raised in New Jersey. Bridge and Tunnel baby! I grew up in Hudson County on the Hudson River.
Did you always want to be an actor?
I wanted to be an actor since I was 10 years old. I got myself on stage in grammar school; PS#4 around the corner from my apartment in West New York. My music teacher put together a small show around Great Expectations and I was just an extra on stage but I looked out over the foot lights and thought, “This is where I belong!” But I did not get around to it until after college and my divorce. My high school sweetheart, whom I married, wanted to be a doctor and I was to to be a doctor’s wife with three kids. We did not have the same plans for the future. lol He became a doctor who remarried and got his three kids and I became an actress. LOL
What was your very first acting role?
My first acting role on TV, that got me into the union, was an Alka Seltzer Plus commercial BUT my first legit role was on Judging Amy.
How did you land the role of Celia on Fear the Walking Dead?
I auditioned for it THREE times! I had to do a work session with the creator of the show the last time.
Were you a Walking Dead fan before you got the role on Fear the Walking Dead?
No, I was not a fan. I’m not a “zombie” person. I watched Romero’s Walking Dead when I was like 7 years old by myself on television at like 3 in the morning and it scared me for life! lol. BUT my 80 year old dad LOVES the Walking Dead and was just thrilled when I booked Fear. I binge-watched all six seasons in three weeks, while I was shooting Fear the Walking Dead. I had watched the first season of Fear because I’m good friends with Elizabeth Rodrigues who was in the first season. So I had watched that one when I booked the job.
How did you relate to the role of Celia and her spiritual beliefs?
Well, I am a mother and I would do ANYTHING for my daughter. So, we do have that in common but that’s about it. LOL. Celia is a very strong, instinctual woman. I would like to think I am too!
Did you do anything special to prepare for the role?
For Celia, I really wanted to get into the style of the show which is why I binge-watched all six seasons of The Walking Dead. I usually do NOT watch more than a few episodes for research BUT I did get hooked on The Walking Dead! For almost all the roles I audition for, I start by watching the shows. With today’s technology, we can watch almost anything On Demand so it’s much easier than before. I don’t feel like I have to watch TV all the time now. I can watch at my own pace and especially if they have been on for a few seasons. I think it’s important to get the tone of the show first, and then I work on the character. Television is pretty formulaic. Find the tone and the stock character and then you bring your own special self to that character.
Remember this scene in Shiva where Madison locked Celia in the cellar with the walkers?
What are your thoughts on Celia’s fate?
I was hoping to get Daniel out of the burning basement BUT I’m not writing it! LOL I think the ONLY way that Daniel can survive that fire is with Celia’s help. You don’t see Celia OR her zombie son when Daniel goes down there to set the place ablaze. And Celia knows the way around her place. She knows that way out! So I’m hoping that the fans want us back soon and the writers pick up their pens and save both Daniel and Celia!
What has been your favorite acting role?
Well, Celia is right up there with the great characters, but I’m working on an wonderful mama now for Netflix’s Altered Carbon which I start shooting March 1st in Vancouver. Alazne is the mama to the lead cop on the show, played by Martha Higareda and she is another fierce mother.
Did you experience any funny or memorable behind the scene moments on Fear the Walking Dead?
It was wonderful to work with Ruben Blades who is such an icon in my community and to see how much he reminded me of my own Dad. I loved to watch him interact with all the extras and be really giving. It was also funny to be on a set with so many dead people!!! Not only the extras, but all the fake dead props piled up on the back of a pickup truck. Very disturbing! LOL
Do you have any new acting roles in your future?
I am going to begin production on Altered Carbon BUT I also just booked a small recurring role on Superstore playing America Ferrera’s mama.
Who had inspired you in your life and acting career?
My dad is a biggest inspiration in my life. His courage to leave his homeland with a small child and a wife and nothing more than 20 bucks in his pocket is amazing to me, and to make a wonderful life for all three of his daughters in a country he idealized growing up on a small island only 90 miles away. I owe my dad everything, even my career choice. You don’t get named after Marlene Dietrich and NOT go into show business!
Is there anything you can tell all us fans about yourself that we don’t know, but would love to?
I love what I do and I encourage everyone to follow your joy. I did not get around to acting until I was almost 30 years old. If I had listened to all the folks that told me I was crazy, I would not have the joy I have in my life right now. Find your joy! Everything else will find you!
This is the last we saw of Celia, and Daniel, too, after he set fire to the compound. Did they survive? Celia knows every nook and cranny of that estate. Did she escape the walkers and the fire? Did she save Daniel from himself? I look forward to Fear the Walking Dead‘s return this Spring. Maybe we’ll be seeing these old friends again. Who knows?
As we ponder the fate of Celia and Daniel, I can’t wait to see Marlene in all her new roles. Superstore is one of my favorite shows and I’ll be looking for her as Amy’s mom, as well as her character in Netflix’s new Altered Carbon, a sci-fi thriller. Thank you, Marlene, for sharing with us fans. I’m want to leave you with this video of Marlene as Celia in Fear the Walking Dead. It is a little lengthy but it highlights her marvelous talent as an actor.