Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Stephanie Beatriz Talks Being Bisexual and Latinx on Network TV

Stephanie Beatriz Illustration by Britt Spencer

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has had quite a broadcast journey. Canceled by Fox after five seasons and then picked up by NBC, the show, and its legions of fans, have survived the test of time. "We didn't take any of it for granted," says Stephanie Beatriz, who has played Rosa Diaz since the beginning of the series. "We were really having fun and growing as actors," Beatriz says. "I had only done theater up until that point, so I was so hungry to learn from all these brilliantly talented comedians and actors." Learn she did, and over the course of the series, she and her character have become prominent examples of Latinx and LGBTQ representation: "You don't see that on television very much, especially network television." This year is proving particularly exciting for Beatriz, with season 7 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine premiering this month, followed by the film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights this summer. Before that, "I wouldn't have called myself a singer," she says, "but I guess I am now."

What do you think has made the show last so long?
The jokes are so good they seem to be translating to languages I don't speak. I went to Japan and people were losing their shit about Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The short answer to your question is I don't know.

Both yourself and Rosa Diaz are openly queer. Why was this an important part of your identity to bring to your character?
I come from a very privileged position, and I have a platform where people are listening to what I have to say, so it's not by mistake I'm so open about being bisexual. I am astounded that in my lifetime I'm getting to play a character who is queer on TV.

Your first time directing was also an acclaimed episode for the series, centering around #MeToo themes. How was it directing this episode?
Obviously, I'm scared, but lots of directors have felt scared before the first thing they did. So I just had to harness that fear and take this step by step, day by day.

You're also in the film version of In the Heights. What was it like working on a big movie musical?
Daphne [Rubin-Vega] was one of the first Latinas that I saw in theater [in the musical Rent], and I had her cover of Newsweek with Adam Pascal on the back of my bedroom door for forever. So that was a super thrill to be paired with her.