The newest character to grace our screens on The Walking Dead is Juanita Sanchez, but she wants to be known as “The Princess.” Her cool personality, and her look has won over the fans of The Walking Dead community including myself. But behind The Princess’ pink coat, goggles, and heavy machine gun, is Paola Lazaro as she has many credits to her name such as Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Lethal Weapon, and SMILF. Now it is time for you to get to know more about her in this exclusive interview!
I would like to get to know more about you. What was your upbringing like with your parents and your two brothers? And what were some of your early career goals?
PL: “When I was a kid back in Puerto Rico, I used to write poetry. I would say around like seven years old. Then my mom used to make me perform it for the family on the weekends when they would come for dinner and stuff like that. I have always been writing and performing in a way. And I always knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be an astronaunt, but then I saw Apollo 13 and that vomit scene in the spacecraft and then I realized right there that I do not want to be an astronaut. I always wanted to perform!”
You have graduated from Columbia University with your master’s degree in play writing. How big of an accomplishment was this for you?
PL: “I never thought that I would graduate high school. I never thought that I would really be too much of anything because of the things that were told to me when I was a kid. So to able to have done all of those things is a blessing, but school and degrees is not what defines us. But the fact that I was able push through what was told to me that I couldn’t do. For me, it’s huge and it is the fire that keeps me going every day. Columbia University, is (laughs) Columbia University!”
Last fall, it was announced at New York Comic Con that you will play as The Princess. Do you remember how you prepared your audition for the role?
PL: “Oh yeah, I will never forget that. I did not leave my house for two weeks. I pretty much self-quarantined for this role. I had the script with me in the bathtub, next to me in my bed when I slept, and the couch. I had it everywhere. I just did not leave my house and kept studying. Something in me was like ‘I know this character. I’ve lived certain things that she’s lived. I can do this.’ I then went in for the audition, and did what I did, and it was awesome.”
The comic book series of The Walking Dead releases their covers three months in advance before the issue is on the shelves. The first time I have seen her on the cover at the time, I thought that she looked straight from the 1980’s. How did you react when you seen her on the cover of that issue (#171) and her scenes in that issue?
PL: “Oh I flipped out and I was so excited! I really bugged out and I just started screaming and jumping up and down. I was like ‘she’s so cool’ and I was very pumped to bring this comic book character to life on the television show!”
Did you include your own personality traits to The Princess since she has a great personality that shines very well on this episode?
PL: “Absolutely! The Princess is very similar to me, and to when I was a kid. All of this energy that I didn’t know where to put it and all this all this love for the world that I didn’t know how to convey along with all of this excitement and toughness and defensive mechanisms, is very similar to me.”
The Princess had to take a detour with Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Eugene to the minefield during this episode. How quickly have you bonded with Khary Payton, Josh McDermitt, and Elanor Matsuura? And what can you tell me about the day that episode was shot?
PL: “It was very awesome because the night before we shot anything, They all took me out to dinner. In fact, the whole cast took me out to dinner the night before to welcome me so that way, I didn’t feel like I was there to shoot twenty scenes and go. This connection that we had established that night I cherish in my heart and we’re so supportive of eachother. There is a true team there. Iv’e learned a lot from Khary, Josh, and Elanor and we support eachother. We are down to rehearse in between takes and scenes. Anybody that needs anything, or if we have to run some stuff down, and they are like ‘lets do it.’ Everyone is into it and I am thankful to have come in with them into this establish world. Now on the minefield, the first time it exploded, I jumped into Khary and Josh’s arms and cursed in spanish. It was hilarious and we broke out laughing so we had to reshoot it.”
Do you know how many times you all reshot that scene?
PL: “We shot it twice! We did good after we stopped laughing.”
One thing I was looking forwared to in the comics is The Princess meeting Negan. Since the comic book series finished last year, it might be possible to do this on screen. What do you think of the idea of The Princess and Negan in the same scene talking with eachother?
PL: “That would be exciting. That will be fun because, god knows what they would do together. I’m scared for the world and I’m scared for the apocalyptic world when these two people meet. They’re both pretty out there and they might get excited about eachother. Who knows what will happen to the world, but I hope that they do meet! I’ve watched Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the show and it would be great to work with him to bring these two characters together on the screen!”