Alexa Mansour on How Her Grandfather's Humble Roots Gave Her the Ultimate Respect for Farmworkers (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Jordan Kelsey Knight
The Walking Dead: World Beyond star Alexa Mansour has fought hard to make a name for herself in Hollywood, and she finds that strength from her grandparents. Mansour's maternal grandfather left Mexico in 1960 to be a strawberry picker in the U.S. Decades later, he's a successful real estate developer, but you wouldn't know it, Mansour tells ET.
"The guy wears the same shirt everyday, drives the same old beat up truck, same baseball hat," she lovingly says. "Just seeing him and being around him is so humbling. I don't think I could pick a better role model in my life."
Mansour's grandfather went back and forth between the U.S. and Jalisco, Mexico, for six years before her grandmother eventually joined him in America. Finally together in the States, they worked kitchen and janitorial jobs to make ends meet.
"I see everything that my grandparents have gone through and everything they've had to take to get here, and how they haven't let it get in the way of them doing anything," Mansour says, reflecting on how farm workers and immigrants in other fields have continued to work amid COVID-19 and the California fires. She adds that it's "humbling" to know the kinds of people who are putting themselves at risk to keep the world going amid these trying times.
"To be able to look up to [them] and use them as inspiration -- they are the nicest people in the world," Mansour says. "They don't let any other struggles or anything they've gone through make them bitter."
It's been hard for the 24-year-old actress to be separated from her grandparents during the pandemic. She's been traveling for work, and doesn't want to put them at risk. So, for the most part, she's been staying connected through FaceTime and phone calls, and baking her grandmother banana bread.
"She tells my sister that my sister's bread is her favorite, but I know for a fact that it's mine," she says with a laugh. "So, I would make the bread and just leave it outside. I would go to their house and just say hi from below the balcony ... I mean, it was tough."
And though she hasn't been able to see them in person, Mansour knows her grandparents are proud of her for working hard and landing a big role on The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
The half-Egyptian, half-Mexican actress has battled through tough auditions, stereotyped roles and typecasting before landing the part of Hope on the new TWD series. Mansour's "ball of fire" character has given her hope that things can change in Hollywood, with more representation and less labels.
"He's really proud that I followed through with what I actually wanted to do and accomplished everything that I set out to do," Mansour says of her grandfather. She chuckles, recalling how he's always encouraged her to push for the next job, telling her, "Mija, you can rest when you're dead."
"It's true -- the only odds against you is the ones that you put in front of yourself, and he never put any in front of himself," she continues. "Seeing him do that -- maybe I'll be able to do it without worrying what everyone else is thinking and saying about me."
The Walking Dead: World Beyond premiered on Oct. 4, and Mansour says fans have a lot to look forward to.
"You're going to see stories of people who are just really pushing through everything that's thrown at them. They're not letting anyone else get in the way of what they're trying to do," she promises. "I'm not saying this because my character's name is Hope, but there's a lot of hope in our show."