Karla Souza Is A Trilingual Entertainer Who Never Ceases To Amaze Us
You might recognize Karla Souza as either your favorite Mexican telenovela star or as Laurel Castillo on “How to Get Away with Murder.” The actress is one of many Latinos who has crossed over from telenovela stardom to American markets.
If you had no idea that the actress has an entire, wildly successful career in Mexico, you’re going to want to sit down to truly meet Karla Souza and her ancestors who gave us Souza in all her trilingual glory.
Her full name is Karla Susana Olivares Souza.
The actress is only 33 years old and has been working as an actress since she was 22 years old, in both Spanish and English language works.
Souza was born in Mexico City on December 11, 1985.
That’s right. Our girl is a fierce, assertive and heart-open Sagittarius Mexicana. She lived in Mexico City until she was two years old and her family moved to Aspen, Colorado.
Souza attributes her blessings to her paternal abuelita, Elba Silva.
Elba moved to New York City from Chile in search of a better life. She became a U.S. citizen, which gave Souza’s own father a path to citizenship when he eventually decided to move to the U.S. years later.
Elba was revered for her courage and her “killer Chilean empanadas.”
In an op-ed for PopSugar, Souza writes that, “She made killer Chilean empanadas and was stubborn as all get out.” Elba worked as an assistant cook with the Rockefeller family for over 20 years. Elba’s husband became the Rockefellers’ gardener.
Souza’s Chilean father met her Mexicana madre in Mexico City.
Souza’s father ran his Mexican shoe business from Colorado for five years. Then, as Souza recalls, “I vaguely remember receiving the letter from then President, Bill Clinton, saying something like: “Congratulations! You are now a citizen of the United States of America.” Which to me meant nothing at the time.”
Souza lived in Europe for 8 years and returned to Mexico for another ten years.
She is proud to be Mexican and proud to be Latina. She first studied acting at Centro de Educación Artística in Mexico city and then went to France to tour with a professional theatre company.
Souza speaks three languages fluently.
She speaks English, Spanish and French so fluently, that she was offered a role in the French reality TV show “Star Academy.” She turned it down after receiving an invitation to study at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in acting.
She even studied acting in Moscow, Russia for a minute.
Souza has been tapped for numerous prestigious awards and invitations, including an acting intensive with Anatoly Smilianski at the end of her college career.
Her television debut was on Mexican telenovela “Verano de amor.”
She later scored starring roles in Mexican sitcoms “Los Héroes del Norte” and “La Clinica.” You might also recognize her from Mexican box office hits “Nosotros los Nobles,” “From Prada to Nada,” and “Instructions Not Included.”
She moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to be told she was not “Latina enough” for Latina roles.
In an op-ed with Pop Sugar, Souza recounts how she would enter an audition for a character only described as “The Latina,” and be questioned. In her own words:
“I’m sorry . . . How exactly are you Latin?” asks the casting director before doing the scene.
“I’m Mexican,” Karla replies.
Still some doubt and skepticism on the casting director’s face prompts Karla to respond:
“My mother is Mexican and my dad is from Chile. I was born in Mexico City. I just moved to Los Angeles two weeks ago.”
Needless to say I didn’t book that job. I wasn’t “Latina enough.”
When she was cast for Shonda Rhimes’ legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder, they wrote her own background into her character’s story.
Why? Because if you’re Latina, you’re Latina enough, and your story is the story of a Latina. We love that Shonda Rhimes’ team included that her character, Laurel Castillo, was born in Mexico City, just like Souza.
Souza is teasing a project in which she seems to be playing an astronaut and we have questions.
Caption: “Space jam. 😉”
Stop teasing us, Souza! Are you playing first ever Latina astronaut, Ellen Ochoa? Quien es?
What we do know is she’s using her influence to elevate life for Mexicans and Latinxs in the U.S.
Caption: “TBT: Earlier this month magic happened when over 100 fierce Latinas gathered in LA. We talked about how we will use our collective influence & power to improve conditions for the Latinx community & everyone in the US. We made a commitment to ourselves and to each other. We are not sitting on the sidelines. Stay tuned for more information about what we are working on for the betterment of all. #LatinasLead #LatinaPower “
Souza also co-founded the Los Angeles En México non-profit with Kate del Castillo, Ana De La Reguera and Olga Segura.
Her organization is focusing on the families in San Miguel Tecuanipa and how to rebuild their homes, livelihoods and security after the devastating earthquake in 2017.
Her TEDx talk is the most seen Spanish language talk in history.
Titled “Sweet are the Fruits of Adversity,” Souza’s talk has more than 3.7 million views to date. If you’re looking for Spanish-language inspo, you know where to go.
In May 2014, Souza married Marshall Trenkmann.
Trenkmann is a Texan banker, and the two had been together for awhile before tying the knot. They married just four months after their engagement.
The two have a daughter, Gianna, together.
Four years into their marriage, they welcomed this sweet baby girl. You might have noticed if you keep up with How to Get Away with Murder.
She became an on-screen and IRL mom at the same time.
How to Get Away with Murder adapted Karla’s real life pregnancy to her character, Laurel Castillo. Her character realized she was pregnant after the baby’s father died in a suspicious fire. :'(
“The one thing people don’t tell you about motherhood is that your life isn’t over.”
On Katie Lowes’ podcast “Katie’s Crib,” Souza talks about how she integrates motherhood into her existing, very busy schedule on set. You can tell she gets creative.
Souza is still making time during motherhood, acting and advocating for Latinxs to be part of the #TimesUp movement.
She revealed in February 2018 that she was raped by the director of a TV show she was in when she was 22 years old. She didn’t name her attacker but continues to link to the www.timesupnow.com in her Instagram profile.
We are shipping her, Gianna, everything she stands for and hopefully her role as Ellen Ochoa. 😍