Liza Colón-Zayas of ‘The Bear’ Opens Up on Connecting with Her Character: ‘I Have So Much Life Experience That Mirrors Tina’

You may not know her by name yet, but you know her face. Liza Colón-Zayas’ expressive eyes and thousand-watt smile have made her character Tina on “The Bear” a standout — one of the many figures on the show representing how life is about always being willing to reset the table. As a working actress for the last 30 years, her life and career have been about opening doors, inhabiting a multitude of parts, big and small, and finding inspiration wherever she can. Despite this long track record, it took being on “The Bear” in her 50s for the world to truly notice her, which largely comes from how her character is finally seen and valued within the context of the show. Speaking in a recent interview on the “Little Gold Men” podcast for Vanity Fair, Colón-Zayas opened up on her connection with Tina, while also teasing Season 3.

“Without giving a whole lot away, we’re going to see more of what we love and what stresses us out about ‘The Bear,’” said Colón-Zayas. “We’re going to see more of the backstories and the secret life and the challenges connected to keeping this family together.”

More from IndieWire

Despite not wanting to reveal too much about the upcoming season, Colón-Zayas did share her holistic view of Tina and how trusting the writers to do right by her comes easy now after three seasons.

“Even though Tina may be a mystery — she’s a person of few words — I’m able to trust that these writers know where I’m going more than I do,” she said. “I have so much life experience that mirrors Tina’s, whether it’s this industry or the restaurant industry that I don’t know a lot about. In being a woman of color in male-dominated industries — ‘not young enough,’ ‘the stereotypical Latin beauty,’ all of the isms, and being left out and not being included in so many rooms — I instantly understood Tina’s armor.”

Later in the interview, Colón-Zayas related Tina’s journey, as well as the collective story at the heart of “The Bear,” not just to her own but to the journey of countless artists, particularly those of color. She said to Vanity Fair, “My theater company was born out of a reaction of not being seen. Latinos were not being cast as Latinos, so we created our own community, our own family, where we could work on what we wanted to in our way — somewhere that’s safe, without the criticism, without being stared through some outside lens, and with that safety and with that joy. People like Philip [Seymour] Hoffman wanted to be a part of this. I was able to find a community that was safe, that saw me, and then learned from the best. I feel that that’s Tina’s journey.”

Season 3 of “The Bear” will be available to stream on Hulu June 27.

Best of IndieWire

Sign up for Indiewire's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.