In Her Campus’ series Next Question, we rapid-fire interview emerging Gen Z talent about what it’s like to rule over the internet. This month, actress Bryana Salaz is in the hot seat to answer our burning questions.
Bryana Salaz is no stranger to the entertainment industry, and her rise to fame she describes as a nearly 10-year process in the making. She is not only an accomplished actress who currently plays Ines on Netflix’s Freeridge, but she also competed on the seventh season of The Voice back in 2014. “I knew I wanted to pursue music when I first stepped on the stage when I was 12 years old. And from that moment on, I was like how do I make this dream a reality? And never in a million years did I think I’d be here,” Salaz shares with Her Campus.
Salaz released her first single, “i’m mad lol,” on Feb. 14. The song is a pop-punk, trap-infused track that explores the most vulnerable and angriest emotions associated with a breakup, which also marks her first music release since appearing on The Voice. “This is the rawest that I could be. This song is like my heart on a table. … I put my whole heart into [my songwriting] and what I’m feeling, I just have to get it out,” she explains.
Salaz was inspired to write the song while she was in a toxic relationship and when it ended, she was left with unresolved emotions she didn’t know how to convey. “I remember walking into the studio and I was so angry, I was feeling this fire inside of me that I have truly never felt before,” she recalls. “And that is pretty much the energy of the song. It’s very in your face… I was like, how do I bring myself something that feels like me, like the most authentic version of me meshed with this new version of me that I never knew existed?”
Salaz is determined to pursue all of the creative avenues she’s always wanted to explore. While music has long been a passion of hers, acting is another important dream she’s grateful to be a part of. As a Mexican-American and LGBTQ+ actress, Salaz understands all too well the struggle to be represented in the media. “I know for a lot of us in the [Freeridge] cast, it just felt so nice to see that representation because for me growing up, I didn’t have a lot of that representation,” she shares. “I was really struggling with fitting in and finding where I belonged because I wasn’t booking at all and I was constantly being told that I was ‘too white’ to play the Mexican girl, but I was ‘too Mexican’ to play the white girl.”
Salaz has since found solace in the role of Ines, Gloria’s annoying younger sister, in the On My Block spin-off series Freeridge. Ines embodies the struggle of adolescence and finding your identity away from your family’s expectations. She and her sister Gloria’s feud throughout the series demonstrates Ines’s anguish at not being treated as a baby and for her sister to see her as an equal rather than someone who needs to be cared for.
“When you look at [Ines] from a glance and you’re watching her mask, on the surface she does come off as the mean narcissistic little sister. But some of my favorite scenes [are] in Episode 4, which is where I think you get to see where she comes from and why she puts up these walls,” she continues. “It was really, really awesome and rewarding — I even say healing for myself — to play Ines, because I found myself going back to when I was that kid and I understood all of those feelings It’s awesome to be able to tell that story of a teen girl just navigating her way through all of this trauma of losing her mom and being treated like a baby and what comes with that, with self-sabotage and everything. I think a lot of us can relate to the self-sabotage thing.”
Away from her time in the entertainment industry, Salaz is a fangirl at heart, having attended many concerts over the years (she’s so real for this), and she spills the tea on some of her favorite moments and things with Her Campus.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite tattoo you have right now?
Oh gosh, can I say three favorites? Only because I have so many. It doesn’t look like it, but I have 24 tattoos. [The first one] is a spider on my wrist. I’m a very big fan of spiders. They’re my favorite symbol in the spiritual world. And then on [my] arm as well is my Hello Kitty, but she’s got little devil horns and a little devil tail.
And then on my ankle is my matching tattoo with my castmate, Ciara [Riley Wilson], because when we filmed [the] On My Block cameo, we had a little party after and we made a deal with each other that if Freeridge got picked up for [a] series, we would get matching tattoos after we filmed. And so we just got those maybe a month ago. When we got access to our show before it came out, we [had] our own PIN codes to watch each episode. So we got our PIN codes tattooed because we were so excited.
What’s your favorite concert that you have been to so far?
This is so hard. I’m just gonna say BTS and Ariana Grande, because I think that wraps up my fangirl world. My guilty pleasure.
Who’s your favorite k-pop group and who’s your favorite member?
Can I do a boy group and a girl group? My favorite boy group is BTS; I have my bias tattooed on my ankle. It was actually my first tattoo. It was a matching tattoo with my best friend and it’s a “V” for Taehyung. J-Hope is my bias wrecker. [For] girl groups, my ult group is Blackpink. They’re the whole reason that I got into K-Pop. And my ult member is Lisa. Oh my God, I love her. I literally lost my voice screaming for her at their concert recently.
What are you manifesting for the next stage of your career?
Honestly, I’m just so grateful to finally be putting a song out. And all I’m manifesting is just being able to continue doing what I wanna do. Manifesting a Season 2 of Freeridge. Manifesting that people like my song. [I’m] just really excited for whatever’s to come. I’m trusting the universe, trusting it for sure. It’s gotten me here.
In one word, describe your character, Ines.
I think she is extremely sensitive. I’ve said a different word in each interview, I think. One day it’s like, bad bitch. Today it’s sensitive.
What’s your favorite lyric from your single?
The way I have butterflies in my stomach. OK, my favorite lyric says, “Try to keep it nice, try to keep it light,” referring to the end of the breakup, “but there’s always two sides and you never wanted to hear mine, so hi.” And then there’s a break and there’s an emphasis on “hi” where I did the vocal production on it. I intentionally pulled out the music and you’ll hear — it’s like a flowy thing. And I put emphasis on that “hi” because it is in reference to a song that was written about me.
What’s one thing the internet doesn’t know about you that you wish they did?
[At] the end of this month — I think actually [the] beginning of March — I can’t say who or what yet, but I’m getting my first writing placement on another artist’s project. So on top of releasing my own song, I will also be pretty much doing another song shortly after that as a writer on it. And I’m really, really excited to just be getting my foot in that music door.
Dream vacation spot?
I wanna go to Greece so bad. I think it’s Santorini, [with] all those pretty white buildings — I’m thinking of Mamma Mia. I would love to go to that area. It just looks so fun.
Go-to coffee order?
I’m so basic, it’s just a vanilla latte with almond milk.
WHAT ARE YOUR SUN, MOON, AND RISING SIGNS?
I’m a Virgo sun, Libra Rising, and a Gemini moon. It’s a hard-knock life.