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Spoilers below for anyone who isn't current with Mayans M.C.
The best TV spinoffs are able to maintain what made their predecessors beloved while also building up something new and exciting. Mayans M.C. has done just that in continuing Kurt Sutter's motorcycle club saga, honoring Sons of Anarchy while also directly featuring some of its main characters. For Venezuelan star Carla Baratta, who plays Adelita, it's simply not possible to fill the female-lead shoes of Sons of Anarchy's Gemma Teller, as portrayed by the great Katey Sagal.
Carla Baratta spoke with CinemaBlend ahead of Mayans M.C.'s Season 1 finale, and I asked her about taking on a female lead role in the shadow of Gemma Teller.
I think to fill up Gemma's shoes, that's, like, impossible. I was obsessed with her when I was watching the show. I think Adelita's character is really powerful and interesting, and in a way that we don't know what she's gonna do, or what's going to happen, or what's she's gonna say or react to. We don't know a lot of her and about who she is. And I think that's really cool to discover step-by-step, you know? Because we don't know!
One thing that Carla Baratta has going for her is that Adelita's personality traits and story arc technically don't match up with Gemma Teller's all that closely. As such, there's less of a reason to try and draw any direct comparisons between the two women, outside of their sheer determination and cutthroat confidence. And the fact that both are attracted to high-ranking members of an M.C.
Aside from that, though, Adelita really is a world away from Gemma in so many ways. Unfortunate nomenclature notwithstanding, Gemma was Clay's "old lady." Even though she was generally aware of all of SAMCRO's dirty deeds and how things went down, she wasn't the leader making it all happen. Granted, she did make some truly horrific judgment calls, but she paid for them in the end.
Adelita, meanwhile, is the fearless leader of a rebel group who destructively muscled a cartel leader into a partnership. She probably wouldn't take "old lady" as affectionately as some Charming residents. In fact, even without a loyal army, Adelita could probably still accomplish her goals alone, driven by her father's memory and a disgust for government leaders in both the U.S. and Mexico. She's into exposing corruption and family secrets, while Gemma was all about covering them up.
Of course, Carla Baratta pointed out that what we've seen of Adelita so far in Season 1 doesn't exactly give away all of the moving parts in the character's story.
We see this girl, and we see that she's dangerous and smart, but we don't know what she's trying to accomplish at the end. So I think it's going to be really interesting for people to see what's going on with her and all this power that she has. I think [Adelita] and also Emily and Leti are really really strong female characters, and I'm sure we're gonna see them grow as we go through Season 2.
Carla Baratta brought up both Sarah Bolger's Emily Thomas and Leticia "Leti" Cruz, who are both completely different from each other, and from Adelita. Having said that, though, there are a few ways in which both Emily and Leti seem like they are two sides of the Gemma Teller coin.
As the husband of Miguel Galindo, Emily started the season off as more of an understanding partner than a power player. (And technically shared a scene space with Gemma in the premiere, thanks to that awesome cameo.) But as the family dealt with Cristobal's kidnapping and various government pursuers, Emily made the conscious decision to get her hands dirty in the cartel's affairs. Meanwhile, Gemma had her nose in everyone's business, whether they liked it or not, and had little problem taking care of things herself.
Meanwhile, Leti is perhaps a reflection of the wild child that Gemma was as a teenager. She's already caused a major trauma by impulsively telling a huge lie, which something Gemma seemed to do on a monthly basis. Of course, Leti also has Coco's twisted DNA coursing through her, and even though Gemma's family definitely wasn't perfect, she didn't have a Coco. Few should, really.
Speaking to Adelita's on-screen magnetism and Carla Baratta's skills as an actress, the rebel leader shared an important scene this season opposite Edward James Olmos' Felipe. Their conversation was wrought with tension, with Adelita believing Felipe to be responsible for her father's murder. She was wrong, even if she wasn't mistaken about Felipe doing horrible things during that time of his life.
When I asked Baratta if filming the scene was as intense as it looked, the actress said it was a humbling and emotional experience. In her words:
Oh my god that was the hardest thing I've had to do in my life.? I was so intimidated by him, and I'm a big fan of his work. Since I was little, my dad loved him?. I was just so scared, but then when we were on set, he's just such a wonderful and caring actor and human being, and lifts you up, like, 'You owned it!' He was teaching me things about God, and we just have a beautiful connection. That was the masterclass of acting for me. I just enjoyed it so, so much. . . . I was really proud of being of able to work one-on-one with him. I think about that and I'm like, 'How could I do that?' I don't know how I did it. It was crazy, but for sure one of the best acting experiences I've ever had.
I think we can all agree that it would be fabulous if Kurt Sutter and Elgin James figured out a way to dip back into the past to show us a scene with Edward James Olmos' Felipe and Katey Sagal's Gemma opposite one another. If only to see if Gemma holds her ground as well as Adelita did.
Here's hoping Adelita doesn't get bamboozled by Miguel Galindo & Co. in the Season 1 finale, which is airing on FX on Tuesday, November 6, at 10:00 p.m. ET. Be sure to tune in to see all the craziness that goes down. Our fall TV premiere schedule will be a good help when needing something to start watching once Mayans M.C. is on hiatus.