Roberta Colindrez, a Latinx woman poses in a prairie setting, with mountains and desert scrub plants and succulents behind her. She's wearing an old-fashioned white lace dress covered in white teardrop shapes and frilly buttons down the front, and playfully cradling hear face in one hand. She has shoulder length, slightly curly dark hair.
Courtesy of Camille Lepen

Roberta Colindrez: From Class Clown to the Baseball Diamond

"I want people to see themselves more," the Latinx actress says of her role in the Prime Video reboot of A League of Their Own.

by

When young thespians are first bitten by the acting bug it’s usually because it provides them with an opportunity to show-off. 

That was the case for Roberta Colindrez when she entered her first theater at the age of 12 in Austin. Soon, she discovered that there was another element to performing that fascinated her: that of problem-solving. 

“I was really into math growing up. The thing I loved about math was solving a problem,” Colindrez said. After stepping offstage for the first time, Colindrez not only had a rush from her performance, but she knew that she could do better and had to figure out how.

“Also, I was the class clown,” Colindrez recalled. “I always gravitated more towards dramatic stuff.”

That mentality has followed Colindrez through her work in television and theater. Not only has she appeared in Girls, The Deuce, and Vida, but she was also part of the original cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Fun Home. Her career also briefly brought her back to the Lone Star State for the Amazon series I Love Dick, which is set in Marfa.

Starting this month, Colindrez appears in Amazon’s adaptation of the 1992 hit movie A League Of Their Own, alongside Abbi Jacobson, Chanté Adams, and D’Arcy Carden. Set in 1943, it revolves around the formation of the Rockford Peaches, a women’s team in the newly formed All American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

The Texas Observer spoke with Colindrez about what attracted her to A League Of Their Own, why she hopes the show will inspire viewers to reexamine history, and how her passion for acting was ignited in Texas. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

I know you were born in Mexico, but talk about your links to Texas. 

I was born in Monterrey in the north of Mexico and came over really young. We lived in Houston for six years and then moved to Austin when I was 10 years old. We were in the northwest of both cities. I went to Westwood High School.

Do you still head back to either city at all?

Two actresses in old-timey clothing stare into the cameras with serious, interested expressions.
Kelly McCormack, who plays Jess, with Roberta Colindrez (Lupe) in Prime Video’s A League Of Their Own. Nicola Goode / Prime Video

My dad still lives in Austin. I go there semi-often. My brother was living there until recently. He lives in Denver now. I try to get down there. I spent a lot of time in Texas. 

How did you first get into acting?

I was 12. I was in seventh grade. I was in Austin. My brother and I just wanted to be in the same class together. Theater was the only thing that was open and we got all our friends to sign up. At first, I was just like, “This is dumb. What is this?” Then I had a teacher, Mrs. Dixon, who changed my life. She was very vocally supportive and enthusiastic. She made me think about acting as an actual thing, not just a fun thing that I did in middle school. She was still acting. She was doing Austin Shakespeare. I had never been told I was a good student. I knew I was a good writer. My English teachers were always praising me. But Mrs. Dixon really, really showed up. 

You told me you approach acting like problem-solving. That’s such an interesting way of looking at it.

You know, acting is communication. And like with real human relationships, if you say, “Why are you looking at me like that?” It is completely different than saying, “Why are you looking at me like that?” It’s just communication, and you can create a problem or solve a problem with how you communicate. Acting just serves that purpose.

Why did you move to New York?

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I loved theater. I had gone to college in Texas to study acting. I knew that I wanted to pursue theater. I knew that I wanted to make movies, too, but I wanted to be in plays. So I never even thought about [moving to New York]. It was just the place. Going to New York was about as much of a decision as going to high school. It’s just something that was going to happen. Always. It was made really easy by the fact that my sister was already living here. I just moved into her apartment in Bed-Stuy [in Brooklyn]. I moved in November 2008. People always thought I was from New York anyway. They were surprised when I said I was from Texas.

Why do you think that was? 

I’m very direct. It’s always been there throughout my life. Being born in Mexico, growing up in Texas, moving to New York, people ask, “Where are you from?” I just say that I’m adaptive. I see myself comfortable in all places.

“[Acting’s] just communication, and you can create a problem or solve a problem with how you communicate.”

How was the transition from Texas to New York?

I had some pretty odd jobs that I like to laugh about every now and then. I was a janitor at a church. I worked in the theater handing out programs and cleaning up trash. I came to New York with no plan whatsoever. Because I had so many part-time jobs, I just didn’t have time for acting. Then some major life-changing things happened. One, a guy that had gone to the same university and was living in New York contacted me because he directed a couple plays in Texas. I wasn’t even in them, but we got to know each other and he got to know my work. He was like, “I’m learning to be a director and I need pupils. People that I can really work with. I admire you.” So I met up with him two hours a week. One hour was to do scene or monologue work. One hour was to talk about my career. He was a good Samaritan for doing that because I had no idea what a career even meant. He steered me in the direction of looking at theater companies.

One of the first companies that I saw was the New York Neo-Futurists. I fell in love with them. I auditioned for the company and I joined it. That was huge. During that same time, I just decided to [work as a production assistant] for free because I just didn’t know anything about film. Me and my brother had a video camera growing up; we would make little movies with our friends. I always knew that I really wanted to make movies. I had an eye for it. I just love the medium. I love writing. I wanted to do theater. I wanted to do all of it. Then this guy asked me to be his intern, but never called me. A year later, he messaged me and said, “My manager needs an intern.” I just happened to be in Central Park at the time and she lived on Central Park West. So I went over there, became her intern, and she was just like, ‘So, you’re an actor?’ She sent me on a bunch of auditions and became my manager.

What was the biggest lesson you learned during this period? 

I learned lessons early on. I remember when I got Girls. I was bartending at the time I got the role. I remember the director telling me, “You’re gonna be great.” I went to work and I told everybody. Then I was just in one episode. I was crushed. But at the same time I was just like, “That’s how it goes.” You can’t be precious about any of it.

Roberta Colindrez leans against a wall as she speaks, in character, to another Latinx actress standing just around a corner from her.
Roberta Colindrez and Priscilla Delgado, who plays Esti, in Prime Video’s A League of Their Own. Anne Marie Fox / Prime Video

What stood out to you about A League Of Their Own when you were approached? 

Just how huge it was. It’s one of those movies that everyone loves. I was really interested to see what it was going to be about. It was easy to see how you could make a series out of it: It’s a baseball show and the league has seasons. But once they explained the characters and told me that my character wasn’t in the movie it made it even more interesting, because it’s all new characters. We use it to look at Rockford in 1943 and what the start of the league meant for people in and around it. So people are now like, “Oh yeah, I guess there weren’t Latinx people, Black people, or Asian people in the movie.” Then they start to realize the scenes that they used for inspiration. I didn’t realize until later that there were a bunch of Latinx players actually on teams. 

What was your research process? 

[Director] Jamie Babbit sent out a couple of books that talked about the league, which had all the stuff that we don’t normally think about. Then I read about the players who only played because they were just white-passing. There were only 11 reported Latinx players to have played in the league. I really suspect that there were more. But they didn’t go by their Latinx names, like Rita Hayworth. I really liked the queerness of it, too. All that stuff just made me know why we should be remaking it. 

What do you want audiences to take away from watching A League Of Their Own?

I want people to see themselves more. As a girl watching this movie growing up, I loved sports, but I didn’t necessarily even consider that there weren’t Latin women on screen. I hope that people can see themselves. I hope that it creates a greater curiosity for the moments in history that we haven’t fully explored.