1st April 2023
Interview: Amy Bell
Photographer: John Geronilla
Stephanie Hoston was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley where she studied musical theatre and Meisner technique at Rage Entertainment Complex and the Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio.
We chat to Hoston about movies she enjoyed watching, her role in 'Perry Mason' and upcoming projects she's excited to announce.
Thanks so much for talking to ReVamp, growing up, was acting always something you wanted to perceive?
Thank you for having me! Very glad to be here! As a kid, I was definitely more focused on becoming a singer. It wasn’t until I started doing community musical theatre in middle school, when I was around 12, that I really started diving into acting. As someone who’s constantly fighting her shyness, I realized the freedom acting could give me. The more I learned about acting and the industry, the more I felt like this was my path. I could learn from my characters, from the stories we were telling, and hopefully become a better a human in the process.
Who would you say was your influence, and what movies did you enjoy watching?
Selena Quintanilla – the Tejana singer – was definitely my earliest inspiration. Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was soon after. Watching Judy Garland transport us into a whole new world was addictive to me. I don’t know how many times I watched that movie… it was definitely on repeat. As I grew older, I generally gravitated toward movies with emotional depth, like Alfonso Cuarón’s ‘A Little Princess’, which is still 1 of my favorites of all time! In university, I decided to study film production and was heavily influenced by theatrical pieces like ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Moulin Rouge’. Later, psychological horror films like ‘It Follows’, ‘Get Out’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’, and ‘The Shining’ really struck me in ways I never expected. I love the excitement of not immediately knowing where the story is going.
You are going to be starring in the new season of ‘Perry Mason’, what was the audition like, and how is this different from any of your previous roles?
The audition was a single self tape. I remember watching the show and zoning in immediately on the tone. I prepared 3 short scenes. It took me a couple of takes, before I fully allowed myself to live under the grave circumstances that Sofía experiences the entire season. I vividly remember feeling as if I was going to lose my partner and his brother if I didn’t convince “Mr. Mason” to save them. It was heartbreaking to go through. I sent off my tape, then heard back that I’d booked it a few weeks later. When I say I CRIED… I REALLY cried with my agents and managers on the phone. I had gotten to the point where I figured maybe I’d never book. I think I’d finally accepted that, and I just decided to enjoy the process of acting… while working other odd jobs. And I still didn’t fully believe I’d booked, even when wardrobe called asking me to come in for a fitting. I had a table read soon after that, and I figured it was just a “producer call back”. Hahaha It’s something both my co-star, Onahoua Rodriguez, and I bonded over that day. Later, we admitted this to Juliet Rylance and Matthew Rhys on set when we shot the very same scene we’d read at that table read. You just never know! It all feels like an audition until you’re on set. This is vastly different from any roles I’ve played before because I’ve never had the opportunity to play someone with so much responsibility. Sofía carries the weight of the world, and she does so without complaint. She is ready to tackle whatever problems present themselves. She doesn’t give up.
Can you tell us a bit about your character, and why you decided to audition for this character?
Well, at this point in my career, I don’t pick and choose. I feel every audition gives me some new experience that I can use as fuel in my career. As far as Sofía Gallardo is concerned, she is a FORCE. I loved playing her because she has a strength I admire in many Latin women I’ve grown up around, particularly my mother. Throughout history, Latin women have had to deal with unbelievably difficult circumstances, whether they’ve stayed in their countries of origin or moved elsewhere. Sofía has to deal with raising a child, nurturing a family, supporting her husband, and surviving in a world (Los Angeles during the Great Depression) that fully ignores her because of her accent, the color of her skin, her background. She is either looked down upon, or completely dismissed and unseen. What’s more, she never has the chance to fully grow into herself as an adult. She’s constantly playing catch up and adapting to each new obstacle. Throughout the season, we will see just how much of her childhood was stolen simply because of her Mexican background. The biggest hope in her life is her family, her husband, her daughter. That’s why this case is so devastating for her. She’s at risk of losing all she has.
You work alongside Matthew Rhys, what was it like working alongside him?
Before I’d actually met him, I was obsessed with The Americans, so I was a huge fan. It took a lot of visualizing working with Matthew for me to be able to focus and not “fangirl” when I got to set. The first time I met him, he and Juliet were so warm. Matthew is the funniest person on set. He’s always cracking jokes between takes, which was so comforting when I’d start to feel overwhelmed by what my character experiences on the show. He’s the perfect actor on set – so willing to interact with everyone and still so focused on the task at hand. His focus is insane. For a long time, all I’d wanted was the chance to shadow some of the pros on set, and Perry Mason gave me that opportunity in spades!
What has the feedback been like, did you expect such a good reaction towards it?
The feedback has been wonderful! I’m so glad the show is reflecting the energy we had on set. Everyone in the cast would mention how positive and creative we all felt. I was lucky that the “Gallardo family” – Peter Mendoza, Fabrizio Guido, and Onahoua Rodriguez – were so open and willing to share their insights with me. But I also attribute this to the energy the main cast established. It wasn’t a hierarchy; it was a true ensemble. We all stepped up and gave each other the opportunity to shine. It felt like we were performing a play just for ourselves. It has been a joy to now share that with the world. Granted… I have to admit it’s also terrifying, because I had this very precious experience that I want to treasure and protect. But I’m learning how to allow the world in, and I find comfort in the reaction from those in my family, my hometown, and my artistic community. They are all so proud of me, and excited for both me and this season! I’m so grateful to all of them!
Finally, what is next for you?
I’m actually shooting a project outside of the United States right now. I can’t talk about it, but I’ve been having a lot of fun in the meantime. I’m fortunate that my art teaches me so much about who I am, and where I am in life. This time is no different; I’ve had the opportunity to meet and learn from some wonderful artists and actors. Looking forward to sharing this project very soon!