Melissa Fumero Talks 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' Amy-Jake Romance And Season 2!

melissa-fumero-brooklyn-nine-nine-interview
Latin Times got to ask Melissa Fumero of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" about her breakout role in the FOX sitcom. Fox/Graphics: Armando Tinoco

FOX's new sitcom "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" -- the creation of Emmy Award-winning writer/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur (“Parks and Recreation”) -- has earned rave reviews for all the right reasons: it's funny, it has the perfect cast, and each actor makes you wish you knew them in real life.

The show revolves around a carefree detective named Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and his team -- the ensemble cast includes Peralta's supervisors (Captain Ray Holt, played by Andre Braugher, and Seargent Terry Jeffords, played by Terry Richards) and his peers (Melissa Fumero as Amy Santiago, Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz, Joe Lo Truglio as Charles Boyle, and Chelsea Peretti as Gina Linetti).

The will-they won't-they nature of Jake's romance with Amy has kept viewers glued to the screen and we cannot wait to find out what happens in the new season. Latin Times got to chat with Melissa Fumero (you can follow her on Twitter @melissafumero) to learn more about how she got her part, whether Amy has any non-platonic feelings for Jake, and what it is like to be a part of such a diverse show.

Latin Times: How did you get the part of Amy Santiago on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"?

Melissa Fumero: It was just another audition, and then a callback that I remember having a lot of fun at, and then I didn't hear anything for a few months so I figured I didn't book it and completely forgot about it. Then, one Monday morning in February my agent tells me that I'm screen testing for the Goor/Shcur pilot starring Andy Samberg. I was so excited, but the first thing I said was "Wait! Is that the cop one?!"

LT: How similar or different are you from Amy Santiago?

MF: I think we're pretty different. I mean, I'm very organized and I can be a bit competitive, but Amy takes everything to the extreme. Amy doesn't half-ass anything. I'm more of a laid back go-with-flow kind of girl.

LT: How does it feel to be on a sleeper hit? The show instantly became successful and now it is an award-winning acclaimed prime time comedy.

MF: It's hard to put into words. There are many times my life feels surreal, and I think "how did I get here? This is just too good." The cast all gelled and bonded very quickly from the start, the writing has been so fantastic episode after episode… I feel like I've won the lottery being on a show this great with people so incredibly talented. Then, to hear or read that people like us, and are enjoying the ride with us and the characters.. well it just doesn't get any better.

LT: On the show, the cast seems really close. What's the dynamic like on set?

MF: From day one, everyone got along really well. Now in Season 2, we're all really friends.. more than just "work friends." On set, it's a lot of laughing and collaborating to see what else we can find in the scenes.  I think the work is getting even better as we are all so much more comfortable with one another. Our crew is amazing and super fun as well. It's a really great vibe on set.

LT: I think this might be the first time on television that the two of the female leads are Latinas. Given that this show is catering to a broad demographic, and not only to Latinos, that's pretty groundbreaking. How did the casting managed to be so diverse?

MF: Dan Goor & Mike Schur didn't set out with an agenda when casting the show. They knew they wanted it to look like a Brooklyn precinct, but mostly they just wanted to cast actors they felt fit the roles best. Rosa was originally called Megan in the pilot, but Stephanie was the best girl for the character so they made the character Latina regardless of the fact that they had already casted me and made Amy latina. I'm so proud to be on such a diverse show, but I'm also proud that our producers just cast people they liked regardless of what they looked like. It is groundbreaking, but to our producers they just shrug their shoulders and say "These are the people we wanted." And I get emotional every time I hear them say that.

LT: What made you want to become an actress? And how has your journey been thus far?

MF: I've loved performing since I was a little girl. I started with dance classes, and dance recitals were the a yearly highlight for me. When I was 10, my parents took me to see a Broadway musical and I was hooked. That's when I started taking theater and acting classes, and performing in local plays and musicals. I got into NYU Tisch School of the Arts, my dream school, and that was the beginning of "oh my gosh, I could maybe actually do this for a living!" I was very lucky to land One Life to Live right out of college, after the soap I did some guest stars, and recurring roles on other shows. I also didn't work for long periods of time. There were a lot of ups and downs. I considered quitting at times, but I could never shake the "I'm not done with this" feeling. I moved to LA and told myself, "Ok, you're 3000 miles from home, you better work really hard, put everything you've got out there, and really focus!" I did, and luckily it paid off in a crazy great way.

LT: Has it been hard getting roles being a Latina?

MF: Yes. After the soap I had a hard time. I was still young with one credit on my resume, and I would get a lot of feedback that was "well, she doesn't really look Latina." Or, "Is she Latin? We can't tell. She sort of looks Italian." It was very frustrating.  I always thought it would help me as an actor to maybe be considered ambiguously ethnic, but it didn't really. It made me feel like some sort of outsider within my own culture, when I've always personally felt very connected to who I am.  I do feel like the perception of what Latinos look like has broadened in recent years, and it's great because in real life we all do look very different! So, it's encouraging to see that starting to be reflected in the shows and movies we watch.

LT: What can we expect this season from the Jake-Amy romance? Last season Jake was aware of his feelings; where does Amy stand?

MF: Sorry, you're just going to have to tune in to see what happens!

LT: What can fans expect from season 3 of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"?

MF: The world of the 99th precinct definitely expands in Season 2 with some returns from last season like Fire Marshall Boone (the incredible Patton Oswalt), and some new players like Holt's long time enemy Madeline Wuntch (the amazing Kyra Sedgwick). It's still all about the squad, and these external characters are sort of there to mess with everyone's dynamics. It's going to be a very fun and hilarious season. I wish I could spill the beans about everything because I'm so excited, but I'd like to keep my dream job so you'll just have to watch!

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" premieres on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9:30/8:30 c on FOX.

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Susmita Baral

Susmita Baral joined Latin Times in April 2013. Her work has been published in VICE, Weight Watchers Magazine, Unique Homes Magazine, US Airways Magazine, Vista Magazine, Daily Glow and Kaplan. She holds a B.A. Psychology from Rutgers University. A self-proclaimed foodie, Susmita is a freelance list maker, part-time Shaq devotee, and a full-time eyeliner junkie who believes mac and cheese is a birthright.