Being an A-list actor's daughter has its perks: access to exclusive parties, celebrity friends and the privilege of landing coveted roles, should she choose to act, with just one phone call from her dad. But Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Andy Garcia's 28 year-old eldest child, transcends that stereotype. Garcia-Lorido spent years cycling through pilot season, rejection after rejection, despite having acted since she was a kid. While she awaited casting decisions, she attended UCLA and was featured in a few small films.
During her ninth season, she finally got the call from the show's creator Mitch Glazer and landed a role on Starz's Magic City, a drama set against the looming Cuban Revolution that follows the crooked dealings of the Evans family struggling to keep up their glamorous Miami-based "castle made of sand," the Miramar Playa Hotel, from crumbling. In the series, she plays Mercedes Lazaro, the Cuban-American daughter of the general manager of the hotel and a part-time maid who's trying to maintain her focus on being a Pan Am stewardess despite the distraction of her first love, Danny Evans (Christian Cooke).
We got the chance to chat with the Cuban-American actress about how she personally connects to her character, what sets the show apart from other period pieces, and what she learned about the entertainment industry from her famous father.
Interview by Tara Aquino (@t_akino)
When you finally landed a role on a TV show, what was that like for you to finally get that payoff?
I started crying. [Laughs] I found out I got the role the evening of my third audition when I tested for the network.
Magic City follows this trend that Mad Men, The Playboy Club and Pan Am have all adopted of being set in the '50s or '60s. What sets this show apart though from the rest?
Well, we didn’t get canceled like The Playboy Club [Laughs]. The thing is, those two shows are network so it’s very different. Being on premium cable, you have more leeway to pretty much be relentless in the writing. You can use profanity, you can use nudity—nothing's really filtered. So I think it’s a little more realistic when you have a premium cable show.
And I just think the writing is way better. I mean, I think that Mad Men is an amazing show, that as well as cable television, but it’s different. Number one, Magic City has a tropical setting. We’re in Miami, so that changes everything with the costumes, and the people are in bathing suits a lot. [Laughs.]
It’s about hotel life, and it’s just different subject matter though it’s the same era. There are different types of people and a different living space. I think that there’s something very exotic, very sexy and very dark about the show. Also, I think there’s a real sense of realism there. I think it’s really accurate to what really was going on at the time.
There are all kinds of women on the show. You have the typical house wife, you have the prostitutes working at the hotel, and then there’s also Mercy. She’s not just a maid at the hotel, there’s more to her we don’t know yet. What do you think sets Mercy apart from all the other women on the series?
Well, I like that there’s some mystery to her. You don’t really know everything about her right off the bat and it’s kind of a slow burn to see her character unravel. You don’t really know her persona because it’s not really in your face. She’s not a typical maid because she’s just really working there part0time while she’s trying to become a Pan Am stewardess. So it’s just a side job, not her career choice.
Also, she grew up in a pretty well, upper middle class family; her father is a general manager of this luxurious hotel. I just think that she’s a very modern young woman for that time to want to just venture out and travel the world and not really stay put and settle down and get married and have kids. Her whole thing is just focused on experiencing different cultures and it isn’t really tied down to anybody. But what happens is love kind of catches her off guard, right in front of her face, and you see how that kind of becomes a little bit of a conflict for her.
From what we’ve seen from Mercy so far, the focus has been on her relationship with Danny. Can you talk a little bit more about that and the depth of it compared to Steven Strait's character Stevie Evans and his many mistresses?
Well he’s her first love and these are two people who grew up as friends since they were little babies. He went away to college, he’s back now doing law school in Miami and he’s grown up. Now, they’re just sort of looking at each other in a different way. The first episode you catch him making that first move, taking her out to be his New Year's Eve party date. At first, he’s saying "just friends” because she’s giving him a hard time and being a little wary about it. But it’s hinted that there’s an attraction there, but the difficulty is crossing that barrier of friendship, which happens in life all the time. When you don’t want to ruin the friendship, you don’t know if you should go with those feelings even though they’re really there. So I think that it’s something that’s got a slow pace to it, but it’s very real.
It’s like as first love is. You sort of dive head first into it because you’ve never had your heart broken so you’re not really guarded. She’s a little bit reserved at first just because it’s her friend and it’s weird. But I think that it’s a really sweet, pure and enjoyable thing that’s evolving.
Your father on the show works with you in the hotel and your father in real life works with you in entertainment industry. Do you notice any parallels between those relationships?
Yeah, I never really thought about that actually. [Laughs.] Well, I guess being a maid isn’t really a career choice for her but I do see it. I was very protected growing up. My dad was very strict with me. I was the oldest of four kids and there are three girls. So I kind of paved the way of what it was like to raise a teenage daughter. [Laughs.] My sister entered high school when I was in college so I kind of went through all that by myself with my parents—curfews and dating and that whole thing. Definitely, I relate to that with Mercy.
Also, there’s just sort of that fire with her. It’s not the typical rebellious daughter thing. She has a little more of that than Danny, I think, because he’s a little more respectful and by the book with her. I think she isn’t afraid to make the move when she feels comfortable with him.
But, I mean, it’s hard to have a father-daughter relationship. That’s a kind of common dynamic with a Cuban Catholic household of just being a bit overprotective.
You’re of Cuban descent and the show deals with Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Do you have personal ties to those events or have any stories about it from your relatives that connected you to the character a little bit more?
Definitely. I mean, this is my family. Both my parents came with their parents during the revolution in Cuba. Both my parents were born in Cuba. They left everything over there. My family got stripped of everything—of their land, of their jobs, everything. So this is my family’s story.
Something my dad always instilled in me was a good work ethic.
This is a family that grew up in Miami pre-revolution so you don’t really see that a lot, which I think is kind of cool, but she still gets affected by it. Her mom is over there when Batista leaves in what’s called the fall of Cuba. Just right now, you see how that’s affecting her and her father. This is my family history. This is something that’s a huge part of who I am and it’s pretty profound.
How can we expect Mercy to evolve throughout the rest of the season or even into season two?
I think you’re going to see a more daring Mercy. She’s a lot more in touch with her sexuality than you think and she's not afraid to really express that. I think that’s going to be the most surprising thing about her that’s revealed that you don’t really see in the beginning. She kind of seems like this innocent who hasn’t had any experience and that may be the case, but once she has her man and they start to experiment, I think it gets more apparent with Mercy that she doesn’t really hold back. And she’s not really afraid to stand up to anyone, even her father. I really love that about her. She’s definitely not a weakling and one that’s going to shut her mouth.
Before you broke into industry, did your father give you any advice?
Well, it was something that I was just doing at such a young age. It wasn’t something that, when I hit a certain age, I decided to do. He would give me his two cents here and there but he would always just tell me to be prepared to do the work and go into auditions prepared. This is about doing the work and nothing comes easy. Study your craft. Something my dad always instilled in me was a good work ethic.
I always thought on my own that what is a huge part of being an actor, or what made me a better actor, was just really living life. Not being closed in on life, but being more open to experiences and to people and taking risks and exposing yourself to things. The more experiences you can have as an individual makes you a fuller person and a fuller actor. There’s more things to draw from.