'Shameless' Star Ruby Modine Explains Why She's Proud of Her Puerto Rican Roots, Teases Season 8 (Exclusive)
By Desiree Murphy
Ruby Modine may have a famous father, but don't let that small factor fool you -- she's worked just as hard as her peers to get to where she is today.
During a break from filming, the 27-year-old actress, best known for playing Sierra on Shameless, called ET on the phone, where she explained her journey from childhood to Hollywood.
Many of Ruby's fans know her father, Matthew Modine, who's starred in films and TV shows like Full Metal Jacket, Birdy, The Dark Knight Rises and Stranger Things. But many aren't as familiar with her Puerto Rican mother, Caridad Rivera, a makeup and wardrobe stylist.
"I am very proud [of my descent]," she said. "Many people don't believe that I am of black, Puerto Rican and Caucasian descent. That is why you cannot assume that you know what people are about based on what they look like. We are all a unique mix of races."
"My mom was born and raised on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, aka Alphabet City," she continued. "My grandmother, Aida, was born in Puerto Rico, then moved to New York City with my grandfather, Manuel. They raised my mom and my six aunts there."
Ruby admitted that, especially while trying to make it in this industry, both her mom and dad, who have been together nearly 40 years, didn't have a whole lot growing up. Born in Loma Linda, California, Ruby's father and his six siblings moved approximately every two years due to his father's job as a drive-in movie theater operator. His mother, Dolores, was a bookkeeper.
"My parents, they both come from backgrounds that are very different from what they've accomplished at this point in time," Ruby explained. "I grew up in one of those apartments that they grew up in, and they've worked so hard to get to where they are and I respect and I love that about them."
"My entire life, my parents made it very clear that you have to work hard. You have to focus, you have to study," she continued. "They made it clear to both my brother, Boman, and I that, yes, my father was in the industry, our name will get your foot in the door. But that's it. After that, you're the person in charge of your destiny, you're the person that has to make it the rest of the way. Hard work. And be kind and gracious. My dad always told us to learn 'please' and 'thank you' in every language."
Ruby, who currently resides in Los Angeles, spent a lot of her youth learning the tricks of the trade from not only her father, but women on TV that she viewed as role models. When we asked the brunette beauty to name a Latino actor or Latina actress who has influenced her career, she answered without any hesitation.
"Oh my gosh, Rita Moreno," Ruby exclaimed. "She was in West Side Story, and I watched that probably every day when I was a kid. Her dancing, her singing, her acting … she was always my favorite character. She just -- ahh, I love her."
"When I was younger, watching her act and seeing the depth she went to, and seeing her dance and sing, she just did it all," Ruby continued. "And she did it with such grace and beauty and strength behind her, which is the most important thing out of everything. I remember watching her and going, 'That's what I want to do.' I remember always watching her and going, 'That's what I want to do. I want to be Rita Moreno when I get older.'"
Ruby told ET that she does sing and dance, but she hasn't been given the opportunity to showcase those skills in a role just yet -- but she's OK with that.
"When I was younger, I was a ballerina, and then I took tap dancing and then I went into hip-hop," she revealed. "Now I dabble in Tango classes, I'm jumping into salsa. On Friday night, I take a hip-hop class every once in awhile. I'm jumping around because I kinda have two left feet, so I want to get them glued on the correct way before I showcase them."
Luckily, Ruby doesn't need any professional dance moves for her role as Sierra on Showtime's Shameless, which returns for its eighth season on Nov. 5.
"I was a big fan of the show to begin with, so just getting on the show was, oh my gosh, such a dream come true," said Ruby, who plays the on-and-off girlfriend of Lip Gallagher (Jeremy Allen White). "I can confirm that I'll be back [for season 8], and I can tease, very honestly, that the writers have done an exceptional job. They've done that every year for the past seven years, and I say that very confidently. But I will tease that this season in particular is SO freakin' wild. It's just amazing."
"My character this season has a bit of a bigger backstory and it's exciting because you're getting a better look into Sierra's life," she continued. "You're seeing where she comes from and, honestly, if I was in the writers room -- they've given me what I would have wanted [for my character]."
As for whether or not Sierra and Lip will make their troubling relationship work, forever?
"You never know, it's Shameless," teased Ruby, who also stars in the new Blumhouse feature film, Happy Death Day, out Friday. "But if I answered that question, Showtime might kill me."