At the world premiere screening for the Freeform show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager alum wore an Alexander Wang crop top that showed off a scar on her torso from the surgery, paired with high waisted Gloria Guerrero pants and Bonheur jewelry. “We’re doing great,” Raisa, 29, tells Us Weekly about herself and Gomez, 25, on Wednesday, December 13, in Hollywood, California. “I’m feeling really good and I’m really happy to be here.”
Gomez underwent a kidney transplant earlier this year due to complications with lupus, the autoimmune disease she was diagnosed with in 2013. The “Wolves” songstress opened up about the surgery in a touching Instagram post in September, revealing that Raisa was the one who donated the organ. Before the news broke about the transplant, it was announced in August that Raisa had been added to the Grown-ish cast as a series regular.
The Bring It On: All or Nothing actress tells Us that she will be playing a college student named Anna Maria Patricia Torres, who is a Cuban-American Republican from Miami. “She grew up conservative — well, Catholic. I grew up Catholic so that side I understand, having to read the Bible, having to have a rosary, and all that stuff,” Raisa said about her role. “Being sheltered a little bit in her house, I can totally relate to that. So that was easy for me to tackle. But on her beliefs, I’m not Cuban at all so I had to learn a lot about Cuba, which is really fun to me and really interesting. It was different and I’m actually really tapping into a different character and really embodying who Anna is. I can try to put a little bit of myself, but she’s so different from me.”
Raisa, who is of Mexican and Honduran descent, said she also had to phone a friend in order to prepare for the role. “As actors, we have to do so much research. That’s all you really have to do,” she said. “I literally got on the phone with someone and was like, ‘Teach me about what happened in Cuba.’ And I’ve learned so much, and it’s amazing.”
The actress says she also relies on her acting coaches to perfect her craft but research is still her top priority, especially when portraying a character who has different values than herself. “I think once you understand your character, which is my secret, once you understand your character, the lines just come fast,” she told Us. “It’s basically just research, lots and lots of research, like, ‘OK, let me understand that side of the party because I’m not Republican,’ and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things.”
The Grown-ish series premiere will air on Freeform on Wednesday, January 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
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