Reveling in sun, sand, and murder, the television show Magic City reveals the glamorous, if seedy, world of 1950s Miami through the inner workings of the fictional Miramar Playa hotel. Rather than focusing solely on the glitzy jetsetters in South Beach, the show explores how everything from mob hits to naked showgirls to Castro’s rise affected life in Miami. 28-year-old Dominik García-Lorido, who stars as a Cuban-American maid, adds a shade of innocence. Though she’s the daughter of actor Andy Garcia, García-Lorido spent years doing little-seen indie films before scoring her breakout role—as Magic City‘s wholesome but engaging Mercedes . We spoke to García-Lorido before the show’s finale this Friday about revisiting the Cuban revolution onscreen and what acting advice her father gave her.
ELLE: The show explores a really interesting time in Miami, was there anything about the era that was surprising to you?
García-Lorido: I’m kind of surprised that no one has really touched on it in film or television in quite some time. Everyone focuses on the cocaine cowboy days in Miami in the 1970s and ’80s. This period was so interesting. It was a really dark time, but it looked so clean and glamorous. [In] the fifties and [early] sixties everyone had this façade where everyone looked perfect, [but] it wasn’t the case.
ELLE: You spent time in Miami growing up, how do you think shooting on location affects the show?
DGL: I think you can’t shoot the show anywhere else, because the central character of the show is the city. I mean, it’s called Magic City, so it’s like if they shot Sex and the City not in New York… I think the city of Miami probably appreciates that it’s [being authentic]. We’re shooting a show about Miami, and if we’re not shooting in Miami, I think it would be quite obnoxious.
ELLE: Both your parents grew up in Miami, and you have family there. Did you go to them for advice about the time period?
DGL: Yeah, both my grandmothers are still alive, and I talked to them about that era and being a young woman in that era… They spent their honeymoons in Miami Beach so they had a lot of pictures. I asked them what kind of jewelry would a young Cuban Catholic girl wear in that time. It was mainly for fun. It didn’t change the way I acted.
ELLE: Since the show is set in the late fifties, did you have to change your mannerisms at all for the show?
DGL: Well, I mean, the way you carry yourself was very different… There’s an awareness that we all had to have, but in terms of the wardrobe, we always had the garter belts and the underwear… It creates this different shape and changes the way you walk and changes the way you sit and the way you breathe. You feel a little bit more like a woman and more feminine. For me, it’s a little outside my comfort zone, because I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. But I like that it helps me get into that ’50s theme.
ELLE: Your parents’ families are from Cuba and came to the US around the time period that the show is set. What’s it like to revisit that time period in the show, especially with the Cuban revolution affecting your character in particular?
DGL: It’s so close to my heart and so surreal to me that I have this chance to play this character that is so close to me and represents what my family went through and represents really my grandparents’ generation. To really tell that story is a huge honor. It just really, really means that so much. You never see this story told… To be able to put this on television where there’s a lot of exposure, I want anyone to do that. That I get to do it, it’s one of the coolest things that’s ever been given to me. I just want to make our family proud and the Cuban community proud.
ELLE: Obviously your father has been acting for many years. Were you always around film sets and was this something you always wanted to do growing up?
DGL: I grew up on a set. My dad’s office was a set and a trailer. I didn’t know anything different. I was born into that… But acting itself as an art form is something I really discovered on my own with really great teachers… I always liked it as a hobby and then it became something I just could not put away and stop doing. As I got older it was like “Ok, this is it.” It’s the only thing where I feel the most complete and fulfilled. It’s when my ADD goes away… It just felt like everything inside of me just turns on. I don’t have that with anything else.
ELLE: So you came to acting slowly… Did your dad give you advice?
DGL: I always worked really hard at it—that’s something that my dad really instilled in me. You have to study your craft, and it’s an art. This isn’t something that’s handed to you on silver platter. He didn’t book his first job until seven years after he started auditioning. I always knew that, so I never thought it was something that came easy. I just always thought, “Well, I have seven years to get a job.”