Vanessa Rubio Teases ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 4, Being A Latina In Hollywood, & Her Recent Road Trip

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Vanessa Rubio - Photo credit: Curtis Bonds Baker

The last time we talked with Vanessa Rubio, we had the pleasure of talking about everything that has transpired in season three of Cobra Kai. I for one hope Rubio gets what she wants for Carmen in season four. Then again, getting bumped to a series regular is already a good way to enter the upcoming season of the hit Netflix show that continues breaking records.

Recently, we had the pleasure of talking with Vanessa Rubio once again. Besides being one of the best characters on the show, we also learned of Rubio’s desire to keep much needed conversations going, what role she would play again if given the opportunity, and gathered a few teases for the upcoming season.

Michelle Patterson: First of all, I have to say congratulations on becoming a series regular on Cobra Kai this upcoming season.

Vanessa Rubio: Aw thank you!

MP: I think the fandom would agree that it’s about time! Because we all need some more Carmen in our lives.

VR: Yes, I agree.

MP: What was your reaction when you heard the news initially?

Vanessa Rubio – Carmen Diaz – Cobra Kai – Netflix

VR: I was surprised and not surprised. I was kind of in this position of, ‘Well if it’s not going to happen I’m just going to look elsewhere,’ you know? It’s like a thing where you’re thinking along with your manager and my agents were strategizing what else is out there. Then when that came along we were like, okay, let’s re-strategize. It kind of changes your trajectory and what you’re thinking of.

But I was like yeah! I am in agreement, it’s about time. I love this character. I love what she brings to the show. It’s a definite character essence because there’s not any other characters like her on the show. She moves things in a subtle way. She’s very magnetic. She waits for things to come to her and she knows who she is. She’s also following her heart and progressing the story in that way.

MP: I completely agree with that. Carmen is such an incredible character and gets better each season. I always look out for her in the trailers to see the hints of what she’s going to be up to the upcoming season.

The trailer for season four was no different for me. In this case, the primary image I noticed of Carmen for the time being was of her and Johnny sitting on the couch, having a talk with Miguel. Is the big reveal finally happening where Miguel finds out that Johnny and Carmen are dating? If you can tell me of course!

VR: That’s what we seem to see. I don’t know how much I can say, but there’s other possibilities, right? They could be like, we’re entering you into some worldwide tournament.

MP: There’s so many options, but that was the first thing that came to mind for me. I thought this poor boy has no idea still.

Vanessa Rubio – Carmen Diaz – Cobra Kai – Netflix

VR: I know, right? How could you not tell? I think it’s about time, even though I can’t confirm nor deny. I would say that what people are instinctively reading from that scene is probably true.

MP: I can confirm that makes me happy and is what I wanted to hear. And obviously he’s [Miguel] a lot better this season. He’s getting to go the dance or a dance. I’m assuming at this point all the feelings are up in the air for Carmen especially with getting to see him be more of himself.

VR: Absolutely. I think the way that Xolo has approached this season is really nice because he’s coming out of something pretty serious, like learning to walk again and getting a “second chance” at life. He’s better for it, he’s much more mature and so is she. It’s kind of contagious. They’re both like, ‘Okay, now we take on the bigger stuff and the bigger chances in life.’

MP: Which is one of the most important lessons you can learn in life. The risk factor of knowing when to take the risk and when you don’t.

VR: Absolutely.

MP: And obviously from the beginning of Cobra Kai, one aspect about the show I liked the most is the inclusivity of the Latino community. You recently went on with MSNBC to discuss Latino and Latina representation in Hollywood today.

I loved when you said “it’s not complaining, it’s about being co-creators.”

VR: Absolutely, yeah.

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Vanessa Rubio – Photo credit: Curtis Bonds Baker

MP: Especially regarding the lighting, makeup, hair, and how Latinos are dressed. Obviously throughout the years there have been a lot of stereotypical parts for a lot of minority groups. So outside of getting more people behind the scenes and speaking up, is there something the film industry should take a closer look at it they aren’t to increase the number of Latino leads to 7% to at least a quarter or as close to a quarter of leads we are seeing in film and television series?

VR: I would love to see that more than anyone. I don’t know if there’s exactly one concrete answer for that, but I do lean into the more we talk about it and the more we communicate about these things, the better. Coming out of a long history of being excluded and not seeing yourself on the screen, it takes a lot of perseverance, almost like training for a marathon!

You realize you are on a set and you realize you are making somebody else conscious of their bias that maybe they weren’t conscious about before and it can get uncomfortable. I think after the year we all came out of in 2020, we are all a little bit more comfortable sitting in an uncomfortable space. We can kind of lean into that a bit more and be like yeah this is what is actually happening and just let that be a little bit. Hopefully people realize that not all these stereotypes have to continue on into the future. Maybe we can dress this person differently or not have them be the villain. Little things that change that narrative is really all that it’s about.

You just have to keep on speaking up and also realize that there is such a thing as representation fatigue. I advise people to lean into a lot of self-care, which I’ve had to do myself.

We have great people in the industry! One thing I will say is that the Latinos in this industry are very supportive of one another. Gloria Kellet, the show runner of Vida [Tanya Saracho], have created a wonderful platform online. I know it’s accessible to so many people where it’s basically an excel sheet of Latino creators, actors, and directors. There’s definitely a community to reach out to for sure and we just have to keep on talking.

MP: I think one of the great things to come out of 2020 is talking like you were saying. No one seems to be afraid to approach any topic.

VR: Right, right. We’re all seeing more different realities and building our compassion. I hope that it continues.

MP: I hope so too. I know I’m always thankful when conversations occur in general at my house because people feel comfortable asking those hard questions here and my friends and I have created a safe space to do that and have them.

And even though we’re seeing more representation in Hollywood there’s still some controversy when these films are made because each box isn’t checked off. With that said, In The Heights did succumb to some controversy due to the lack of Afro-latinx characters.

Despite that, do you think the success of In The Heights helped forge a much needed pathway to bring those statistics up in the future where these characters can remain in the forefront?

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Vanessa Rubio – Nagaina – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Netflix

VR: Yeah. I am very much an optimist in that regard. I have to say that movie was so beautiful. Yes, there are shortcomings, but you don’t learn from them unless they’re there and we can point them out. I think that is what happened in that case. Gosh, what a beautiful movie though. It was really epic and I think it did more good than harm in my opinion.

MP: I agree and have the same optimism behind the movie. It was one of my favorites and I remember refusing to watch it on HBO Max because I think musicals should be watched in a theater.

VR: I completely agree. I went to the theater as well. It’s 100% true because I didn’t want to see those scenes where they are dancing on the side of the building at home.

MP: I thought the same once the movie ended because I would have been bothered by a cat or a dog or someone would have needed something.

VR: That moment was such a suspension of belief and you needed the theater. It was beautiful.

Vanessa Rubio – Cimmaron Rose – Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings “JJ Sneed”

MP: I agree. It was a movie that was long over due. We’ve been lucky to have such an incredible year with incredible actors and all this amazing representation. And thankfully in the fans case, we’ve been able to binge and catch up with some of your other roles including Nagaina on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Cimmaron Rose in the “JJ Sneed” episode of Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, which is actually one of my favorites.

VR: Yay! Mine too!

MP: I absolutely love that episode! It’s an incredible series, but that on in particular has stayed with me. And you’ve also been on  Master of None, Gone, and Deception. Is there one character out of those particular shows you wish you could have spent more time with and why?

VR: Oh gosh, totally. Probably the first that comes up would be Cimmaron Rose from “JJ Sneed.” I LOVED her. She was just like no apologies, you know? She had a lot of street smarts and ahead of her time because she was so unapologetic. She was this woman riding in on this horse and being a criminal and very much becoming a raw survivor with a sense of humor. I’d love to do something like that again, a western. There’s something about women in westerns, strong women in westerns. I love the movie Bad Girls from the nineties. There’s just something about that that makes me say I love that.

Then there’s Nagaina, who was a bit more archetypal. It was more of this deep seeded feminine rage with the history story of Medusa, so that was a lot to get into. It was like whoa. I love strong characters like that. I probably prefer the “JJ Sneed” character though, because she had the sense of humor that I really love.

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Vanessa Rubio – Nagaina – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Netflix

MP: I think humor can make any type of movie or television show better. I’m a horror comedy person. Comedy definitely has a place in horror. And I know people hate that, but it makes it a bit more bearable to watch at times too. I think you need it.

VR: Yes, you need that comedic relief.

MP: Exactly. I’ve been sitting here scared for thirty minutes so it’s nice to be able to laugh afterward. We all have to take a second and laugh and enjoy everything around us.

Obviously on Instagram last year you did a bit of a road trip across the road trip across the US and journaled about your experiences on there.  It was great to see someone taking the time to enjoy the areas they were visiting.

Was there anything in particular that pleasantly surprised you you weren’t expecting?

VR: That’s a really good question. I think the experience of road tripping in general. It’s a bit of a lonely experience, but you’re doing it for that reason, to see how you are in different scenarios and different situations. It’s always comforting to see what different cities offer because every city has a different flavor.

The feeling I got in Sedona was very different from the one I got in Santa Fe. I think it was just the essence of feeling the different feelings in those cities. I think in Santa Fe there was a really beautiful feeling of people coming together in a plaza, which I haven’t really seen a lot in the US. It’s a very South American thing, but that was there and people were masked up but still trying to be together.

I think that’s the essence of why I did it. With all the bits of talk in politics and news, I wanted to get my feet on the ground and to be like, ‘What’s happening with everyday people? What are they doing? What do we do when we encounter each other in real life?’

I wasn’t disappointed. I found a lot of kindness out of there, even though I encountered people I don’t share political views with. We were able to be very cordial to each other. I found a lot of kindness and I think that’s what I’ll take from it.

MP: I think a lot of times people don’t want to look at the gratitude in their day and I think the way you summed that up is the perfect way to sum it up. We have to start looking for the kindness and compassion that other people have.

VR: Right. Exactly. There’s so many stories that you can fill your head with before you go into a place. I was weirdly frightened to go to Tulsa because I was reading about the history of racism and the terrible things that happened there. I went to this beautiful museum there. It confronted some of that history and it was hard to be in those spaces, but I’m here and there’s other people here. Sometimes you just have to go there and see how you feel when you’re actually there.

MP: I completely understand what you’re saying. In my case I didn’t go anywhere, but I read the book White Fragility last year and while it was the hardest book I’ve probably ever read, I don’t regret it. Because I think if we don’t educate ourselves about these matters, and like you said, don’t just go, we’re going to be in the same place thirty years from now.

VR: Right, exactly.

MP: I think a lot of people unfortunately have a bias in some regard. So like you were saying earlier you have to break that bias and break down that wall and start understanding, which is what you did in Tulsa.

VR: Right and there’s a bit of that in me sometimes because I try to keep myself creatively hungry, fulfilled and churning. Sometimes going toward what we fear can surprise us with what it actually is. It’s how we grow.

MP: And obviously in this case, with this road trip, there are many pictures that fans can view on your Instagram, if they have not already from this road trip, but I have to ask a question as an avid reader. Are these moments something you want to develop more in depth in a book for fellow readers?

VR: Oh my god, that’s a wonderful idea. That would be lovely. As an actor, you’re called onto these different sets and your personal life kind of gets thrown up into the air. I was trying to lean into that more and be like, ‘Okay so if life is asking for more flexibility in that sense from me, let me do it. Let me dive in.’ That would be such a lovely idea to document. I’m a very visual person as well. I think a lot of people are and I think we can appreciate that even though a lot of things in 2020 seems to be closing in. We have to take a breath of fresh air and look at everything around us and realize that we live on a beautiful planet.

MP: Exactly, beautiful planet, beautiful people.

VR: Yeah.

MP: It’s not as all bad as it’s been made out to be in the past two years.

VR: Yeah, exactly. There’s plenty of air out there.

MP: That’s actually the reason I tell people I go to conventions because there are just moments you have that happen more organically at them, or at least in my experience. And I think it’s because we all share that fandom of whatever TV show, whatever movie, and obviously in this case with nature, and history that conventions more than ever teach us that being diverse is okay.

VR: Yes! We have to get out there and talk. If you find yourself in a bad conversation, I’m sure you can find yourself a way to get out of it.

MP: Yes, there’s always a way and a code word somewhere as I like to say.

VR: I hope I see you at a comic con soon.

MP: I hope so too, I would love to see you a comic con!

VR: I just went to my very first one in Knoxville.

MP: That’s awesome.

VR: It was a bit of a baby con that was just starting out, but I enjoyed it for the reasons you just said, you’re meeting the real people who really appreciate what you do. You’re seeing it in affect and it’s quite an experience.

MP: It really is and it really does bring this essence that you’re not alone and I think in light of the past two years it’s something that people want to know.

VR: Absolutely.

MP: It kind of goes back to going back to self-care in these lovely trying times.

VR: I’m all about it. I’ve gotten into meditation recently, and breath work recently. I think the more we actually take care of ourselves, the more present we’re able to be in these times.

MP: Which is so much more important than people realize. You need to be present in your own life.

VR: Definitely. Which is why I think Carmen would be in the Cult of Miyagi Do, because I am.

MP: I did like in that MSNBC interview that the reporter referred to it as a cult following because it’s so true. I know that my uncle doesn’t get excited about much and I told him the day it’s coming back this year on December 31st and he told me we have to sit down and watch it the whole day like we did last time. So I have now blocked off December 31st.

VR: It escalated very quickly!

MP: Exactly. It was the fastest decision he’s ever made and it’s so great because it’s such a generational thing. He’s in his sixties and I’m in my thirties.

VR: I so agree. I think there’s something really beautiful about this story, and thank God it’s been able to find a new life. Even from the original Karate Kid series, there’s this late seventies essence that relates to the older generation, like your uncle. I’m in the same generation as you and now they’ve extended it to the younger generations and somehow everyone can find a place in it.

MP: I think a lot of shows don’t do that anymore either where you’re getting all these generations involved because it’s been passed down. I know especially with this show it was passed down. My dad was very adamant about watching The Karate Kid and Back to the Future. So getting to relive and watch how the original moments have been interwoven into the series and reliving them with him and my uncle is such a pleasurable. And it’s such a great show that I can’t speak highly enough about.

VR: Thank you. It’s very nice to know it’s appreciated, liked, and is resonating.

MP: It really is and I think a lot of us are cautious about these reboots because we wonder at first is this going to take away from what I loved. And I think with Cobra Kai especially it has only added to the reason why I loved these movies growing up.

VR: I completely agree. I try to figure out why sometimes, but something is going right, so we’re just going to leave it at that.

MP: It’s a case of yep! This is how it is. And I always ask this as my final question. Is there anything you want to say to fans or that you can reveal or tease for the upcoming season?

VR: I can say with certainty that so far this season is one of the best season. Everything is bumped up many notches and you guys won’t be disappointed.

MP: The trailer definitely has me pumped and I am ready for the day of binge, which I guess is what we will call it in my house.

VR: Yes, yes. I think everyone is going to find something to enjoy in it.

MP: It was lovely getting to talk to you again.

VR: You too, Michelle. Thank you for making the time.

MP: Of course. Thank you for making the time as well.

VR: I hope you have a good watch party on the 31st, I know you won’t be disappointed.

MP: I definitely won’t be!

Don’t forget to tune into season four of Cobra Kai on Netflix to see just what Carmen is up to on December 31st! To make sure you are up-to-date on all things Vanessa Rubio, make sure to follow her on her social media accounts, Twitter and Instagram.