Fall TV Spotlight: How To Get Away With Murder
In anticipation of the 2016 fall television season, NHMC will be showcasing shows that excel in portraying and characterizing their Latino stars. Stay tuned these next few weeks as we feature some of this fall’s most diverse programming, and make sure to watch and support Latino talent on TV — we’ve compiled a list of some of this season’s best, available on the NHMC blog.
In a few mid-season episodes during How To Get Away With Murder’s debut run, a number of things about Karla Souza’s character were revealed: she was fluent in Spanish, she came from an impressively wealthy Mexican family, and the act of attending law school and proving herself through ruthless acts of academia (and otherwise) was her way of defying the traditional expectations imposed upon a young Latina woman. In these instances, the viewer was guided into her lavish home, met her family and got a glimpse into the toxic, machista relationship she has with her staunchly conservative father.
Playing a reserved, cryptically bland Laurel Castillo who suffered from a lack of substantive character development up until that moment, Souza’s role in the HTGAWM puzzle was a curious one because we, as viewers, didn’t know who she really was. Even her position on Viola Davis’ fictional legal team was written off by her onscreen peers and mentors, who would assert intellectual superiority over her and credit her professional success to a supervisor’s romantic interest.
Laurel is someone who had to (and continuously has to) prove herself as an intelligent, driven young woman in spaces that tend to overlook and undervalue people like her. With a private history and a silent determination, Laurel often comes to represent the modern woman in the workplace. In interviews, Souza would describe how this was purposely done: the plan for Laurel was to hide everything about her, to slowly let viewers begin to piece together the character as it becomes clearer and clearer that she’s a force to be reckoned with — as is the case with so many professional women in reality. She is someone who must simultaneously work within and against a system that was not designed for her, all while juggling the over-the-top drama that inevitably comes with being a main character in How To Get Away With Murder.
As a young Latina woman defying the odds, looking to prove herself even when the cards are stacked against her, Laurel is the one of the most believable — and because of this, one of the most intriguing — members of the HTGAWM cast. All melodrama and murder aside, the living, breathing Laurel Castillo is one of the richest mysteries of the show.