Published on February 8th, 2016 | by Ashley Danielle Rubin0
To watch a local blossom into their acting career is a rarity that many people will never get the chance to experience. Fortunately for the Wiregrass area, we are getting the opportunity to see just that. Gabriela Lopez, a Dothan native, has been living out her childhood dream for the past couple of years in California. She has had a few roles prior to her breakout role in, The 5th Wave, now in theaters everywhere. Having the opportunity to talk to Gabriela about her acting career was an absolutely humbling conversation. I was fortunate enough to grow up with Gabriela and her amazing family. She has not forgotten her roots, and still has her same infectiously loving personality. Gabriela has always had such an easy way of bringing smiles to people’s faces, whether it be from her comedic charisma or her golden-heart roots inherited from her parents.
Gabriela Lopez is a 2010 graduate of Northview High School and attended Auburn University for a short period of time until she booked her first role in Los Angeles. For as long as Gabriela can remember, she has had the itch to be in the entertainment industry. She recalled memories of performing Spice Girl dance routines for her older brother and his friends. Fortunately, she has an extremely supportive family who enjoyed her abilities and who have always encouraged her to follow her dreams. When we spoke about all the support she has had from her parents and siblings, she pointed out that their thousand of miles distance apart doesn’t keep them from connecting with each other almost daily. She insists that none of this would have been feasible without their love and support.
Throughout her years in Dothan, she auditioned for local theatre performances here and there, but never got her big break. Learning this about Gabriela was really moving, because instead of giving up, it only made her fight harder to accomplish, what seemed at the time, an impossible ambition. Her senior year of high school, she was finally given her moment to shine as the lead role of Rachel Brown in Inherit the Wind. Upon landing the role, her confidence began to build for hopes of a much larger future. She decided to take the plunge and reach out to an agent in Atlanta, still unsure of how reasonably obtainable the spotlight would be for her. Even though she knew her heart was in acting, she had been accepted to Auburn University and did not want to pass up that opportunity. Once she had her agent, it was not long before she was called to California to audition for different roles. She landed the role of Carlita in the 2011 movie, Teen Spirit. In this movie, Gabriela plays the “mean girl” at school, who tries to take the place of the queen bee.
After she finished filming Teen Spirit, she felt like this was the most appropriate time for Los Angeles to be called her new home. She has since landed roles in a web series called, Bite Night, another web series called, Blue Code, and also played a character named Sarah on the UP network series, Coffee Shop. Gabriela’s talent does not stop at acting; she has also written and produced pieces as well. Her most well-known production that she independently wrote, produced and starred in with her best friend, titled Unrelated, was featured at the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham this past year.
Gabriela commented on how strange it truly is for to watch herself perform on the screen. She employs a technique of pretending the characters she plays are her acquaintances, rather than completely submerging and losing who she is during the duration of filming. She has quite a hold on that mentality, which seems like a rare gem in this particular industry. Along with her comments of watching herself on the big screen, she was very modest with her talent. She has completely managed to stay grounded throughout all of these life changes over the past five years. Gabriela was quick to reminisce about the good times she has when an opportunity to visit her childhood home presents itself. Of course she does not get to come home and see her family as often as she would like, so when she does she completely dedicates herself to her family and friends.
Gabriela explained how tough the demands of Hollywood are, but that her goals and desire to survive and flourish in that industry are far greater than any defeat she has had to overcome. She was not afraid to admit that sometimes she feels the pressure of fitting a certain mold, or having to change her appearance just to fit the description of what the producers are seeking. Her strong-willed spirit has continued her push forward through any negativity of which she has been faced. One of my favorite things Gabriela said about herself was her strong desire to create. She loves to express herself in the form of acting, producing and writing. It took not only her inherited talents, but also the desire and dedication she puts into her career to land the role in The 5th Wave. No amount of negativity or setbacks have pushed her away from her dream, and she is certainly letting that aspect shine now!
Gabriela plays Lizbeth, who is the best friend of Cassie Sullivan, played by Chloe Moretz, in The 5th Wave. The movie is based on the young adult novel written by Rick Yancey. Her excitement was overwhelming as she informed me that the book recently hit number one on the USA Today list. Her humbling confidence in the book overflowed to how she felt about the movie- a hopeful box office hit! I happened to catch the trailer on television, and I am convinced that it is a movie you are not going to want to miss seeing in the theaters. In the movie there are waves of alien attacks that are wiping out most life forms on Earth. Cassie is determined to save her young brother from the attacks, and the planet from mass destruction by the “Others”. Gabriela’s role is that of a fun, boy-crazed teen, but beyond that she did not drop too many more hints about the movie so not to spoil the experience.
As we spoke about The 5th Wave, she was appreciative of all of the cast and crew on set for their encouragement and their reminding her that no matter how tough it is in the industry, that if you set your mind to it, it can be achieved. Since shooting of The 5th Wave wrapped she has been auditioning for new roles on an almost daily basis. Gabriela Lopez has a drive to live out her dream of acting, and uses all of her experiences as a learning tool to help carry out that dream. It was truly a privilege talking to Gabriela, and learning about all the hard work she puts into achieving her dreams is an inspiration.
-Ashley Danielle Rubin