Two-time Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega shot to Broadway fame playing Mimi in the original cast of Rent. Now she’s collecting the rent, playing Rosa Juarez, an over-the-top Latina landlady in web series Hustling, created by her good friend and fellow Broadway vet Sebastian LaCause. Hustling follows LaCause as a New York City hustler pushing 40.
“I said yes because I love Sebastian and I wanted to be supportive,” Rubin-Vega told Broadway.com of signing on for the series, “but also because it was an opportunity, at the risk of having skidmarks all over our efforts, to really have fun.” The character of Rosa was just as enticing to Rubin-Vega as the prospect of working with a friend. “I thought I can just channel all of the stereotypical shit that I’ve never done and just be a complete send up," she explained. "At the risk of falling on my face. At the risk of insulting my whole racial background. I was like, ‘What the fuck. Why not?’”
Filming was, as Rubin-Vega described, an unorthodox process. “We shoot, he looks at playback and then we move on,” she said. “It really was flying by the seat of our pants, and I admire that about him. At the end of the day I remember thinking, ‘Oh really, that’s a wrap? Ok, cool,’ and then I go into the bathroom and there’s this false eyelash half off my eye!” she exclaimed. “And well, that’s what you get when there’s just two of you."
Rubin-Vega and LaCause met during their run together in the Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show in 2000. She played Magenta and he took on the role of hard-bodied hunk Rocky. The actress doesn’t remember the friendship being instantaneous. “The first couple of weeks of [Rocky Horror] rehearsal I just thought of Sebastian as kind of cute and aloof,” she recalled. “I remember looking at him from across the room and we were totally sizing each other up! I was like, ‘Who is this boy toy?’ and he was probably like, ‘Who is this diva?’” she said with a laugh. “But when he opened his mouth I just liked him. He’s a great guy. He’s a great friend.”
Those qualities also make LaCause very appealing to work with, said Rubin-Vega, and considering he’s also attracted Broadway vets like Brent Barrett and Shannon Lewis to the project, she just might be right. “He’s a very straight shooting human being,” she mused. “I recognize how focused and hard working he’s been, and I’m so proud of him for being, pardon the expression, a sperm in a pool of billions and making something for himself. He’s created something so that he can work on his craft and himself, and he can do what he loves.”
See Rubin-Vega in the season finale of Hustling, which hits Blip.tv on January 18.