17th April 2023
Interview: Chris Richmond
Photo Credit: Trevor Brady
Grease is back! But not as we know it. Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies is the new prequel to the beloved movie which explores the origins of the famous gang which made the original story so addictive. Unlike the original movie, the new series has a modern sensibility about it - the show is much more diverse than the original cast ever was, and the script is able to cast a critical eye across 1950s society and all of the problems held within it. We were lucky enough to speak to Alexis Sides about his role as Potato, one of the T-Birds, about donning the famous leather jacket, his identify as a Mexican-American actor, and what the audition process was like for the show.
Thanks so much for chatting to us - we’re so excited for Grease: Rise Of The Pink Ladies! First of all, who do you play and what appealed to you about the role?
I play the character of Potato, one of the T-Birds in “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies.” What appealed to me about this role was the opportunity to explore a character with a complex backstory and unique challenges. Potato is a Mexican-American living in the 1950s, a time when discrimination against people of color was rampant in America. He's also dealing with the aftermath of his father's experiences in the war, which has left him with a lot of responsibility to take care of his siblings.
For fans of the original movie, what’s the pitch of the new show? It seems to be exploring social issues such as PTSD and the immigrant experience much more than the original film. In what other ways has the story been modernised?
"Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies" is a spin-off series that takes us back to the world of “Grease” (Yes, there are TONS of references from the original movie) but with a twist. It’s set in 1954, four years before the events we saw in the original movie. The show centers around four rebellious and unconventional students who band together at Rydell High to challenge the prevailing norms of their time. These brave students will later be known as the “Pink Ladies.”
The series is all about empowering female characters to stand up for themselves, challenging traditional roles and inspiring everyone to be true to who they are. It's awesome to see a show that celebrates strong, independent women and encourages self-expression.
Another fantastic aspect of the series is the diverse cast. It brings together characters from different ethnic backgrounds and even features a gender-nonconforming character, making it feel more inclusive and relatable for today's audience. The show's commitment to representation truly sets it apart and adds depth to the story.
Your role is very comedic in the new series. What are the difficulties and challenges of such a comedic role? Do you prefer comedy or drama - why?
Oh man, playing a comedic role is definitely not easy! You really have to be on your toes at all times and be ready to improvise on the spot. Timing is everything in comedy, so you have to be really precise with your delivery and reactions. But at the same time, it's so much fun because you get to play around and experiment with different ways of making people laugh.
As for whether I prefer comedy or drama, I honestly can't choose! I love both genres for different reasons. With drama, there's a real challenge in tapping into deep emotions and bringing them to the surface in a way that feels authentic and compelling. But with comedy, there's a real thrill in making people laugh and bringing joy to their day. I feel really lucky that I get to explore both in my work, and I think they both have a lot of value in their own way.
This is your biggest role so far - how did you feel when you got the role? What was the audition process like?
The audition process for “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” was quite the journey! I got my first audition in October, which was for singers and dancers. I had never taken any formal classes in singing or dancing, so I was pretty skeptical about it. But I figured, why not give it a shot and see what happens?
Then in November, my agent sent me another role to read for, this time a character named “Potato"
After sending in my audition I got a call back a few days later, which just happened to be on my birthday in December. Talk about a birthday gift! That's when I did my network audition. I was hoping to hear by the end of the year, but the call came in the first week of January.
When my agent called to tell me I had landed the role of Potato, I was in complete shock. It took a few days for it to really sink in, but when it did, I couldn't help but cry tears of joy. Being part of the Grease universe is something that I never even thought was possible, and the fact that all my hard work and dedication paid off is just incredible.
And let me tell you, putting on that T-Birds jacket for the first time was a moment I'll never forget. It was like I was stepping into a piece of history and being part of something that's so beloved by fans all over the world. I feel so grateful to be part of this prequel series and to bring Potato's unique story to life.
What sort of roles would you like to take in the future? What would be your dream role?
I am always looking for roles that challenge me and help me grow as an artist. I am interested in playing characters that are multi-dimensional, with complex backstories and unique personalities. I am drawn to characters who face internal conflicts and emotional struggles, as I believe these roles offer the opportunity to explore the full range of human experience.
While I am certainly interested in working on projects that tackle important social issues, my dream roles are not limited to any particular genre or theme. Rather, I am open to any role that speaks to me and allows me to fully immerse myself in the character and the story.
In terms of specific dream roles, I am always inspired by movies that have strong storylines and thought-provoking themes. Films like Interstellar, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Inception are just a few examples of the type of movies that have resonated with me as an actor and as a viewer. These films challenge the audience to think deeply and question the world around them, and I would be thrilled to be a part of projects that have that kind of impact.
But at the same time, I also love comedy and enjoy exploring lighter, more humorous roles. Ultimately, I am open to any role that allows me to grow as an actor and connect with audiences in a meaningful way.
Who are your acting inspirations? Whose career would you like to emulate?
There are several actors whose careers I admire and would like to emulate. I'm a big fan of the work of actors like Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, and Pedro Pascal, all of whom have achieved success in the US film industry as well as in their home countries. As a Mexican-American actor, seeing the success of these individuals is inspiring and gives me hope that I can make my own mark in the industry.
I also look up to directors like Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro Iñarritu, who have made significant contributions to the film world and paved the way for more diverse storytelling. These filmmakers have created some of my favorite films and their unique styles continue to inspire me to push boundaries and tell stories that matter.
Overall, I believe that every actor and filmmaker brings something different and valuable to the industry, and I'm excited to continue learning from and being inspired by the work of those who have come before me.