Melissa Fumero, who plays Detective Amy Santiago on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, can remember the first time she had to ad-lib with co-star Andy Samberg.
It was during her screen test for the role. “They just kind of threw it at me as the last thing to do. I didn’t have time to freak out; I just went for it,” Fumero said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Sundays at 8:30 p.m.) is set in a New York police precinct. Now in its second season, the series won a Golden Globe last year for best TV comedy; Samberg won best comedy acting honors.
Fumero said doing comedy was always “a secret dream,” and a role on an ensemble like Brooklyn Nine-Nine was very high on her “actor bucket list.”
She was a regular cast member on the former ABC soap opera One Life to Live, where she met her husband, Cuban native David Fumero, who spent some of his childhood in Miami. She said she learned how to handle unrealistic story lines, play comedy in high-drama situations and work with different personalities and directors.
Fumero also credits One Life with making her feel comfortable with last-minute directions and script changes.
“It’s a roller coaster and a speeding train when you’re on a soap opera, so everything after that feels kind of slower,” she said.
But for every soap opera grad who has gone on to Hollywood success, there are those who can’t get an audition.
“I know so many actors that I’m still friends with from One Life that are really talented actors, and some of them are really funny and they have a hard time getting auditions,” she said. “They have a hard time being seen for things outside of that ‘soapbox.’”
Fumero hopes she’s a reminder that soap stars are actors.
“There is a little part of me that hopes it sort of opens the minds of other people in the industry to maybe not be so quick to judge someone because they have a soap opera on their résumé.