Brace yourself amigas, because those Latina superheroes we’ve been dreaming about… are here! Meet Allegra Acosta and Ariela Barer of Hulu’s Marvel Runaways. You may recognize Barer from her turn as Carmen, from One Day at a Time, Elena’s goth-like BFF, who stole every scene she was in. Now, the 19-year-old old plays Gert Yorkes, older sister of Molly Hernandez, played by 14-year-old Acosta, and both are part of a group of teenagers who discover their parents aren’t exactly ‘the good guys.’ We got a chance to speak with Barer and Acosta at a set visit in Los Angeles. Here’s what the new heroines have to say about representation and Marvel.
HL: How much of a dream come true was getting your Marvel gig?
Allegra Acosta: So much! The biggest dream come true! It was almost unrealistic because at the beginning of the year before even I got this audition, I wrote my, well, it’s a tradition to write your goals and some of them are unrealistic, but you’re setting them out for them. I just casually I wrote, “Oh, maybe I’ll be a superhero,” and I didn’t think of it too much. Then, when I got this and I figured out what I was going to be and then I ended up booking [the part]. It was just so fast and so weird, and unexpected, and it’s just the most exciting thing ever to be a part of this cinematic universe, that just is about embracing your true hero. So amazing! I’m dying.
Ariela Barer: I know man, I feel like my formative years were right on the brink of Marvel kind of taking over the entertainment industry. So, for me, it was always kind of a thing to, like, maybe grow up, and maybe after I win an Oscar, I’ll deserve my Marvel stint. I’d follow in the footsteps of Robert Downey Jr. So, it came a lot faster than I thought it would, which is exciting. Yeah, I mean it’s not even intimidating at all. Don’t worry about it. No pressure!
Female superheroes in general, let alone Latina superheroes, are so far and few between. What does it mean to you to be representing, not only your generation, but a Latinx superhero?
Ariela: I remember one time we were on Twitter and Gina Rodriguez was like, “Where’s all the Latina superheroes at?” And then we were like, “We’re right here Gina! You probably don’t know who we are.” But hopefully, she’ll know us now – knock on wood! I just need the world to know she means so much to us… I just love her!
Allegra: It was really important to me that you have characters, who are Latinas, and who are super strong and powerful. I think we have such a responsibility to show that even though we got this opportunity, that we have to create more for the other Latinas, and for especially girls who are my age. I don’t think you’ve ever seen 14 year-old Latinas at my age, or your age [who are] Latina superheroes, and I think it’s just amazing to have that broad spectrum out there and to show that, you know? We’re not stereotypes. We’re much stronger than that and bolder than that. It’s cool that we get a variety within one show. We never end up falling into tokenism or anything like that. It’s never the burden of, “I have to represent everyone” and it kind of takes away from the ability to be truly personal because things can become problematic so fast. So, it’s cool to have two of us because we can be truly personal and relatable in both ways without having to worry about representing everyone, encompassing everything into one story, and we can keep it as real as possible. Then, through that, people can relate and find themselves within it, or they don’t have to. We don’t have to be the perfect role models. We can be human and it allows for that more human experience.
How hard has it been for you guys keeping quiet from your friends when you were filming before even the trailers came out?
Ariela: There’s so many photos I have in my cell phone that says, “Do not post until this show comes out!” I get constant reminders from Marvel like ‘you can’t post, you can’t say this’. I feel like I’m in a secret agent. Even to get into my email, I feel like I have to get a retina scan just to get into my email to see the script. It’s so secretive and so hard to keep, but then once it comes out, I feel like it’s gonna be worth it.
Allegra: Oh, yeah. It’s like actually being a superhero. It’s like actually having a double life. No … I’ve actually started carrying around disposable cameras so that it’s film so I’m not tempted to post them. But then I got my first ones developed and they’re so cool! I’ve resorted to emailing them out to the cast just so I could share it with someone.
Marvel’s Runaways drops today, November 21, on Hulu.