Culturist: Aimee Garcia | Actress
Photography by Elton Anderson
Interview by Abbey Miller
What’s Your AMMO?
Aimee Garcia: Knowing that I only get one lifetime. So I’ve gotta give this one all I’ve got! Also, my parents….my parents inspire me. They are amazing hard-working, creative and fun people who always taught me to be respectful, work hard and Go Big or Go Home.
You got your start in acting on the stage, how does theatre differ from T.V. and Movies?
A: Yes. I started my career in Chicago theater at age 7. Performing in front of 10,000 people is an incredible rush. You can HEAR the audience laugh, feel them crying and see them smiling. There’s a certain continuity in theater. Once you start the play, there’s no going back. You are performing LIVE and that’s an exhilarating feeling. In TV and film, you have your crew and co-stars, but the audience won’t see your performance until a lot later. You have no idea how the audience is going to respond so you just have to trust your gut, your co-star and director.
You started dancing very young, dancing up to 20 shows a month by age 12. Do you still work it into your schedule? Do you miss dancing that much?
A: Yes! I actually just started taking dance classes again. It’s the best way to stay in shape! I do miss dancing professionally actually. Performing for 10,000 people 20 times a month is such an exhilarating feeling. There’s nothing like dancing your heart out for a sold-out crowd!
You graduated from Northwestern with an impressive triple major in Economics, Journalism and French. Why did you take the break from the stage, and how did you manage all of those classes?
A: I was Tracy Flick. Not only did I have three majors, but I also choreographed for Northwestern’s dance team, produced Northwestern News Network segments, joined a sorority, planned Dance Marathon (Northwestern’s largest philanthropic event) and, of course, partied. So, I guess I was pretty good at time management. I never really took a break from acting until AFTER college. While at Northwestern, I did Chicago theater, independent films, commercials and college plays. But, once I graduated, I packed up my things and moved to New York to work in finance. I wanted to experience living in New York so badly that I got a 9-5 job as a Mutual Fund Analyst for an Investment Survey company and shared a tiny apartment with two roommates in Brooklyn. I lived in a closet for 8 months (it was literally a closet…I had to put up a shower curtain as a door).
If you weren’t acting professionally, what would you be doing?
A: I would be a National Geographic photographer or a translator for the United Nations.
You’ve been in shows like Trauma, ER, American Family, and CSI , and now Dexter, which role were you most excited about playing?
A: Different roles for different reasons. I loved Trauma because Marisa was a bad-ass helicopter pilot who flew Apaches and Blackhawks. But, I’m loving my role on Dexter as Jamie Batista because she’s a fun college grad student who is just as comfortable in a bikini as she is going toe-to-toe with her brother Angel (David Zayas).
Top, Pants & Belt, The Bunny Knose Vintage; Sunglasses, Emmanuelle Khanh; Shoes, Rough Justice.
What has been your most challenging role so far?
A: Again, different roles for different reasons:
Marisa was challenging because I had to portray an ex-Marine and did a lot of my own stunts. I remember one time I was dangling in a helicopter 4-stories high over concrete and having to hold and shoot a gun as if I had killed someone before. Carmen in the movie Go For It was challenging because I did all my own dancing. I was dancing alongside Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku girls and the Beat Freaks. I trained for 9 months and took 4-5 hip-hop classes a week to prepare for the final dance routine. The final dance number is very much like Flashdance, except without a body double or a guy with a wig. And, Jamie Batista is challenging because of how high-profile Dexter is. It’s an Emmy-nominated show with a fervent global fan base. So, the pressure and expectations are high. But, I just have to block all that out and do my thing.
You’ve worked alongside industry heavy-weights like Jennifer Aniston and George Lopez, and now Michael C. Hall. How did it make you feel to share the screen with them?
A: Jennifer was so approachable and down-to-earth. She really feels like someone you have known forever. You feel like you’re talking to an old friend as opposed to a big-time movie star. George is a crackup. He made every day fun and kept me on my toes because I never knew what he was going to say!
As for Michael, he’s such an incredible talent. He comes from Broadway and has such pedigree. And, even though he’s a Golden Globe winner and one of the most highly-respected actors of our time, when the cameras are rolling he’s an actor. I know that no matter what, I can count on him to be there for me in the scene. And, getting to work with such a talented actor for an entire season is a dream come true.
If you could work with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
A: I’d love to work with Leonardo DiCaprio in a Clint Eastwood or Aaron Sorkin film. Leonardo is a chameleon and puts his heart, money and soul into everything he does. Or I’d love to do a Tim Burton movie with Johnny Depp because Johnny Depp brings an incredible sense of humor to all his characters.
And, then maybe an action movie like Avatar 2 where I get to work with James Cameron and do my own stunts.
Did you ever have an ‘I made it’ moment? If so, when?
A: Not yet. I don’t want to jinx it.
What has been the hardest part of working in Hollywood?
A: Not giving up who you are. Hollywood is a very seductive business…there’s a lot of powerful people, a lot of money and a lot of temptation to take short cuts.
How do you deal with it?
A: I make sure to stay grounded by nurturing my relationship with my family and friends and doing things for myself. I have a life outside of Hollywood. I travel, golf, play poker and do a lot of charity work– all of which have nothing to do with Hollywood. Your popularity in Hollywood will come and go, but your relationship with yourself and the people close to you will last forever.
What’s next for you?
A: Right now, I’m still shooting Dexter so I’m focused on that, but I’m eager to see what’s next. I’d love to do a Funny or Die video or a cool indie. Maybe even start producing. I’d love to end up as a producer some day.
You can catch Aimee on the new season of Dexter which airs on Showtime.
Photographer: Elton Anderson
Writer: Abbey Miller
Stylist: Nicole Balzano
Makeup: Daneza Martinez
Hair Stylist: Neicy Small