ET's Deidre Behar spoke with the 21-year-old actress at the season three premiere of the Netflix series, where she opened up about the responsibility of representing the LGBTQ community on screen. Her character, Elena, came out as a lesbian in season one of the comedy.
"[I take it] so seriously that it's a little overwhelming, especially because I'm an ally and I'm not actually a person who is living through all of this," Gomez explained. "It's a little scary, because I haven't lived it personally, and I want to make sure I'm representing it accurately. So, I've just tried to be the best ally I can be, and to try to listen a lot, and make sure I'm getting all kinds of perspectives."
"But [playing this character is] very important, because I also understand what it means in the sense of, I haven't seen Latinx representation, and I know how great it feels to see that. So to know that I am that for another community, it's rough, but it's awesome," she added.
As One Day at a Time executive producer Mike Royce told ET on the red carpet, the decision to make Gomez's Elena queer was inspired by his own family life.
"It was something we were talking about anyway, but it was happening to my daughter coming out at the same time," he said. "I was going through it as a parent and taking notes, probably prying a little bit."
Gomez said that her portrayal has also inspired others to come forward about their sexuality. "Daily, I get stories about people coming out, and people not coming out, but being like, 'Hey, I'm still in the closet, but because of this, I feel a little better,'" the Colombian actress shared. "And it's so moving because this started as a job to me, and now it's turned into something that's so much more than you could ever imagine or hope for. So it's amazing."
Viewers have been through a lot with Elena on One Day at a Time, from her coming out, to her first lesbian relationship, to settling into her role in the LGBTQ community. Gomez, who revealed that support from fellow Latina stars like America Ferrera and Gina Rodriguez has given her the "necessary" support to do her best acting, said that fans can expect even more of her storyline in season three, hinting that it gets a little more "grown up."
"She's college-aged, she's doing that whole thing. She's driving and she's been in a relationship for a year now, so that's getting pretty serious. We discuss the L word, we discuss teen sexuality, we discuss, outside of that relationship, anxiety," Gomez shared, praising the "artistic collaboration" between the show's cast and crew. "She's dealing with a lot now, and she's learning how to handle herself more eloquently, which is really awesome."
Season three of One Day at a Time is now streaming on Netflix.