Hispanic Lifestyle spoke with actress Marlene Forte at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) annual conference about career and her role on upcoming series Dallas.
More about Marlene.
When Marlene turned 30, she decided to become an actress. That’s a late start for most occupations; in Hollywood it’s nearly unheard of. But for Cuban born girl named for one of Tinseltown’s brightest stars (Marlene Dietrich) perhaps the journey was predestined. Now Forte has carvedfor herself a successful if unlikely career. She has done it all — she has experienced motherhood, owned a business (video store) and lived a full life before setting foot on a stage. Now with an acting career spanning over three decades, Forte is enjoying a hell of ride carrying now an acting dossier that may very well rival some of the most prominent Latinas in the industry.
She’s keeping busy these days with a slew of film and TV projects including the highly anticipated reprise of one of the most legendary TV drama series of all time, ”Dallas”.
Unlike other TV reboots, ”Dallas” is the continuation of the original series. Twenty four years after the show debuted, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy,Linda Gray, Steve Kanaly, Charlene Tilton and Ken Kercheval all reprise the roles they played on the original CBS show.
These Dallas veterans are joined by Josh Henderson (who plays J.R.’s son John Ross), Jordana Brewster, Jesse Metcalfe (who plays Bobby Ewing’s son), Julie Gonzalo, Brenda Strong, Leonor Varela, and Marlene Forte, among several others.
An American institution, the new ”Dallas” is taking quite a radical departure from the original version by being predominantly more Hispanic-centric.
There are some big-time Latino actors and writers at work on this project, including Marlene Forte, Julie Gonzalo, Leonor Varela, and Jordana Brewster, Carlos Bernard and Cynthia Cidre (Cane) as head writer and show-runner.
Forte who was the last actor in the casting process to win the final series regular role plays Carmen – the Ewing family’s longtime housekeeper, whose daughter, Elena (Jordana Brewster), enjoys a friendship with Ewing cousins John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe).
Though Carmen is described as having worked for the Ewing family for many years, Dallas loyalists may remember that the original Southfork maid was named Teresa, played by Roseanna Christiansen from 1982—91.
Teresa – the only visible Latino character in the original show – was the silent and obedient housekeeper, now that housekeeper–played by the formidable Marlene Forte–runs the damn house. Her incredibly beautiful daughter, Elena played by Latina Jordana Brewster, is the central love interest for both the young Ewing boys–a new character, clearly and proudly Latina.
With Elena set to mix it up with the Ewing boys, clearly Carmen enjoys a much richer role than Teresa, whose main function was watering Miss Ellie’s rhododendrons, serving huevos rancheros and routinely announcing to poor Sue Ellen that ”Mr. Ewing will be working late tonight.”
Cuban-born actress Marlene Forte, who had recurring roles on ”Crossing Jordan” and ”House of Payne”, and whose film appearances include the transporter chief in the 2009 JJ Abrams’ ”Star Trek” reboot and Mrs. Glass in ”Real Women Have Curves”, is also joining the cast of the ABC Family hit TV show ”The Secret Life of The American Teenager” in a guest starring role playing Maritza, Kathy’s (Cierra Ramirez) young grandmother. The very liberal grandmother lets her grand daughter Kathy move in with her while she juggles going to high school and through the last months of her (teen) pregnancy.
On the big screen, Forte will soon be seen in Marlon Wayans’ directorial debut called ”Smart Ass,” – a spoof of such horror films as ”Paranormal Activity” and ”The Devil Inside.” Mike Tiddes is co-directing the new film with Wayans, who also stars in it with Essence Atkins (”Are We There Yet?) and Cedric The Entertainer.Due out in theaters Winter 2012, Forte steps into the shoes of Marlon’s personal housekeeper who lives a double life.
The story that lies behind Marlene Forte’s Hollywood success unfolds like a rags-to-riches movie script, but it is certainly a story rarely told and nothing short of ”Forte’ Tude”! Her journey from the video counter to the big screen is one of great inspiration and motivation – proving that talent and persistence do pay off.