"I just love telling stories through [different] characters and I can't see myself not doing it," the 29-year-old Mexican actress tells ET ahead of Vida's third and final season. "This is what I feel I was born to do."
Fans are gearing up to see Barrera return as Lyn Hernandez in the Tanya Saracho-created series. It's bittersweet for the actress to say goodbye to the Starz show after three seasons, but she couldn't be happier to be a part of a show that changed the TV landscape and represent Latinxs in Hollywood.
"I feel very grateful that I got to be a part of this amazing show that made such an impact in not only the industry but also people that needed to see their stories told," Barrera expresses. Season 3 of Vida will continue to showcase more Latinx stories, as well as see Lyn fall back to old habits, all while going through a journey of self-discovery. But it won't be easy.
Season 2 left viewers with bar Vida booming and the Hernandez sisters in a good place. Yet Eddy finding out that Vidalia's husband is still alive was a major shock to viewers. The news will undoubtedly turn Lyn and her sister, Emma's, life upside down. But how will this personally affect Lyn? Barrera dishes to ET about what fans will see in the coming episodes.
ET: First off, how are you spending your days in quarantine?
Melissa Barrera: I'm watching a lot of TV, eating a lot, pretending to exercise, learning to play guitar. It's going all right. I've always wanted to play the guitar and I thought this was the perfect way to learn. I have calluses on my fingers right now.
Lyn has grown so much over the last two seasons. What will her journey be like in these final episodes?
I feel like in season 2, Lyn came into her own. She kind of stood up for herself more. We saw her trying and by the end of season 2, she got the validation and the confidence that she needed from her sister. So in season 3, she starts in a great place. She has a relationship that's good, not with Johnny, not toxic. Rudy loves her. He's good for her. The bar is thriving and she's so happy, and her sister and her are getting along and cooperating and it's very surprising to her.
But what I love about the third season for Lyn is that her growth isn't linear like in season 2. Her growth is like chutes and ladders this season because she starts to fall back into old patterns of transforming herself into whatever the men around her want her to be, and it's fascinating to see it happen because in the first two seasons, she was fighting against it and we knew that that was her behavioral pattern for the 27 years of her life, but we hadn't actually seen it. We were in the last ends of it but we see it happening in season 3. We see her in action and it may seem like she's being smart and that she's being strategic, but it's her character flaw. It's her tragic flaw and she loses herself when she starts to become what other people want her to be. I love that a great part of her growth in the third season is that she realizes that she's doing it. The first step is recognition.
We also find out that their father isn't dead. How will that affect Lyn?
Imagine believing that a relative of yours that you love is dead for years and then all of a sudden you realize that they are not? That can shake anybody's world. Her father was deported when they were very young and he "died" crossing back, that's the belief. So, it's been probably more than half her life that she thought her father is dead and when a young child loses their father, that becomes a part of their identity. When she realizes that that is lie and has been a lie the entire time, that makes her question her entire life, everything that she's learned and believed has been a lie.
Will we see Lyn and Emma searching for their father?
Yeah, we see Lyn first grappling with the idea and the revelation has a different effect on the sisters because they have such different ways of thinking. So we see how each of them wants to take that information and either act upon it or not and that in itself creates this huge rift between the sisters. Even though they are trying to get along, there is this major disagreement. It's a major thing, it's not a small thing…It's like, "Are we going to go look for this man or are we going to let it be?"
And Lyn, being who she is, can never let something be. The thing is that, at this point, the relationship with the sisters is so good that she doesn't want to jeopardize that. So she has to resort to what she thinks is the best way to go about it, which is behind Emma's back and that in itself is a huge betrayal in Emma's brain and it causes more drama between the sisters and it's a huge part of her growth this season. Then the relationship that she develops with her father during this third season is a huge part of her falling back into old patterns and you realize that it's not only with her boyfriends that she does this, it's with any man in her life.
Like you said, Lyn falls back into old patterns. Does that mean we could see her and Johnny getting back together?
What we get to see of Jyn [laughs]. See that's the ship name I just made! What we get to see of Johnny and Lyn this season is them in a completely different dynamic and we kind of understand why they're each other's people and why they are so great together. But this season, Lyn is 100 percent certain that Johnny needs to be with his family. She's not looking for him in that way. She is conscious that she's in a relationship and that's good for her. Her life is finally taking shape. She's in a great position. He has a baby, he's in a relationship, so she doesn't want to mess it up again. But their connection is so strong that whenever she needs to talk to someone, she looks for him just to talk as friends and you can see that they understand each other, that she trusts him and that he has a soft spot for her. There's no denying it.
I love that we get to see them in that supportive, non-sexual way this season so that people can understand that it's not a "we're magnets, we're boomerangs, we-can't-keep-our-hands-off-each-other thing." It's deeper...But there is closure for them and I trust that people are going to like how they left that and how it ends.
What will surprise viewers the most about season 3?
The first episode, I think people are going to be surprised at where the sisters are going with their characters. I think they're going to be surprised with Emma opening up and willing to have a relationship with Nico, which is unheard of for Emma. And I think they're going to be surprised with all the things that Lyn does because this season, Emma's at the bar for the most part, in the little corner that is the bar and the building, and Lyn is all over and she's sneaking around here and there and she does a lot of things. She also grows a lot and people are going to love that. There's also a lot more secrets revealed. We have characters that we lose. There's more deaths and then we have characters from seasons 1 and 2 that come back to stir trouble -- and that's always fun to have people that you haven't seen for a while.
As the season comes to an end, how does it feel to have been a part of this dynamic show?
There is a whirlwind of emotions that I'm feeling… I love that it's a show that feels more than an acting job. It feels like it started a movement and I feel so lucky that I happened to be at the right place at the right time in that audition and that I got to be a part of it because it feels like a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I'm also sad because we were in it for the long haul. We were like, [we want] six, seven seasons. We got more story to tell. But sometimes life doesn't work out the way you want it to be, but I trust that everything is perfect. And you know, three seasons is a great accomplishment for a show. Not all shows get to three seasons, so I'm happy that we did and that the three seasons that we did are very strong. I can say that I'm very proud of the three seasons. I'll always be grateful to our fans who supported us and it's because of them that we got this far.
Season 3 of Vida premieres April 26 at 9 p.m. on Starz.