Actress Andrea Londo
Actress Andrea Londo | Foto: Actress Andrea Londo

Actress Andrea Londo: Border Child to Resilient Actress

Por: Karen Limón

23, November, 2021 en Latina Attitude

“Being Latina, as cliche as sounds, means resilience and perseverance,” says Andrea Londo. If you’ve seen Narcos on Netflix, the gorgeous Mexican-American actress may have already caught your eye, having played the character of Maria Salazar in season three. The up-and-coming actress also appears in the 2018 film, Superfly. Apart from that, Londo has a memorable and empowering energy to herself – an energy that she is more than ready to bring to her future projects on the big screen.

But before we can delve into her the details of her acting career, we have to first focus on her story. Born in San Diego, California, Londo grew up as a “border child” in Tijuana, Mexico. While living in Tijuana, a city in proximity to the Mexican-American border, Londo attended a private school in San Diego from preschool to high school. She recalls carpooling with her classmates to cross the border daily, an experience she describes as a “journey.” It may sound exhausting, but Londo admits that it’s more normal than one may think. It also has its advantages, with being exposed to cultures from both sides of the border.

Most of her upbringing was in Mexico, and it still is a strong part of her identity. For Londo, Tijuana represents home, and it’s a place filled with memories of her childhood. “It’s a city that I knew well. My identity was very much tied to the city, more so than San Diego,” she admits. Londo also never experienced culture shock as she commuted between countries to attend school, an advantage of growing up in a border city. She describes the culture she grew up with as “mismatched.” It was simple Mexican traditions mixed with influences of American customs that dripped through.

There was also no internal conflict about where she felt like she belonged. However, Londo recalls how everyone around her, on both sides of the border, were quick to classify her identity for her. “People want to define you as one thing and they often do, depending on where you are. When I was growing up, I felt that. In Mexico, it was like ‘Oh, you go to school in San Diego? You’re not Mexican like us.’ When you’re in the US, you’re one of the Mexican girls crossing the border to go to school,” Londo recounts. She describes the entire experience as “nomadic,” not because she felt isolated from others, but because there was always a sense of feeling different.

Throughout her childhood, Londo always “secretly wanted” to be an actress. She would dress up as her favorite characters, and perform with her best friend in their own plays. Her plan was to pursue an acting career after graduating from college. Londo had her eyes set on attending an Ivy League, admitting that she was somewhat “idealistic” about her academic plans after high school. Unfortunately, when she was not accepted into her dream school, she was distraught, especially since she “focused her entire high school experience on getting into a good college.” For her at the time, “There was no alternative, no Plan B. There was only Plan A.”

Her mindset changed after her boyfriend encouraged her to take the initiative to move out to Los Angeles instead of waiting for an opportunity to appear. It was the support she needed at the time, but she also expresses the decision being “impulsive,” and “decided within a week.” When she moved out, she lived with her aunt. She confesses that she hated the whole experience, and she had to lie about attending a school to her parents.

In December 2011, Londo left LA to refocus her aspirations. She returned to the city eight months later in August 2012 with a fresh mindset and an increasingly determined attitude. Similar to many other actors starting out, finding work was difficult. Londo completed minor projects here and there, starring in a few student films while also working a retail job. She kept on applying to colleges, and always had opportunities come up to leave the city. She attended Santa Monica College, not wanting to leave LA because she was confident about being on the right track. Londo also managed to get signed into an agency, that ended up not being the best fit. In 2014, she met her manager, and her work started becoming more frequent with projects every few months. In 2016, things started to pick up as she booked a few TV appearances, including her impressive performance in Narcos.

With her journey, Londo recognizes how being a border child still affects who she is today. Although it was an “advantage” being able to grow up in two cultural environments, she brings up how she was always asked to choose one culture to attach herself to. She is very protective of her identity, as she says, “I defend my right to both wholeheartedly. I feel entitled to claim either because I can.”

Referring back to what Latina means to her, Londo explains how she uses that resilience and to thrive within the entertainment industry. She says, “For me, especially in this industry, it’s about fighting for the things I want. I very much grew up with that mentality, and I know so many other Latinos who are like that. They are super go-getters and fight for what they want. They don’t let much bring them down, they just keep going.”

Many people tend to group others by their background, and it is unsurprising how frequently this occurs within the entertainment industry. Londo recounts how in her experience, being resilient is vital because of how much any person of color has to go through within the industry. People will say to her that it is a great time for her Latin background because of the opportunities currently offered in entertainment. For Londo however, there’s still much more she feels that she has to persevere against to prove herself, and sometimes it feels as if she has to prove more than others. She explains, “There are many opportunities, but you’re trying to break through to be offered the opportunities that are not yet available to you.”

Londo cites Jennifer Lopez as an example of a resilient and persevering Latina, because of how Lopez broke down barriers to be the lead in various romantic comedies. “It may have taken a lot of time to get there, but she is that Latina,” Londo says. Along with Lopez, Londo is also inspired by legendary actress Salma Hayek. “She’s gorgeous, and she did what so many people try to do, which was to pave the way for herself after coming here.”

Although it may be a restless and tough industry, Londo also emphasizes the importance of staying true to yourself and remaining authentic. Her resilient character shines through when she adds the significance of also being fearless and speaking her mind at times of unease. Actors, especially those who are new to the industry, may feel discouraged to ask questions and offer their suggestions, but it’s vital to foster a collaborative environment, rather than a toxic one. She recalls one of her favorite memories from her career is when she was on set for Narcos. Although Londo was surrounded by actors who were more experienced than her, she was treated amazingly. While filming for the show, Londo remembers how one time, she had a question about a scene and asked the director. The director invited everyone to dinner to discuss this same scene and to offer their input and share their ideas. The scene was changed based on everyone’s suggestions. Londo felt “empowered” to be heard and taken seriously, especially since she was a fresh face to the acting scene. She says that it didn’t feel like a “you’re here and you do as I say” moment, rather more of a “we’re here and we create this art together.”

Andrea Londo

With these learning experiences, Londo also admits how one of her major goals is staying sane through the hectic moments that come with being an actress. With the constant auditions, it can feel as if the work is nonstop. For Londo, “it’s when you finally book, and when you’re finally able to share the things that you couldn’t say, then that’s the vacation.” In regards to her future projects, Londo envisions herself starring in dramas, with a few upcoming projects on the way. She also shared what her ideal project is. She hopes to tell meaningful and personal stories through her acting and work with people she admires. Some directors that she would love to collaborate with are: Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón.

As an actress who strives for resilience and perseverance, while staying unapologetically authentic to herself and her culture, it’s exciting to see what’s next for Andrea Londo.