From Law Enforcement to Law Enforcement ... On Screen

Q&A with David Zayas, who stars as Angel on hit series Dexter

By Lisa Zion, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: July 13, 2008

From Law Enforcement to Law Enforcement ... On Screen

David Zayas stars opposite Michael C. Hall (ǣSix Feet Under) as detective ǣAngel Batista, who kicks off the third season in October 2008 having found the Bay Harbor Butcher and being cleared of all criminal charges.

ǣDexter, Showtimes #1 rated show, is a crime thriller that follows the double life of a forensics analyst, Dexter Morgan, who secretly kills criminals who have gotten away with murder.

Our new contributing writer Lisa Zion caught up with David Zayas and asked him a few questions. Enjoy!

- El Editor

Thank you for taking some time today to speak with me and the readers of Latino LA. We are very excited that Season 3 of Dexter will begin soon.

Q. When did you start filming Season 3?

A. We started about 5 weeks ago, the first week of June.

Q. Angel Batista is described as a generous detective, strong, fearless and vulnerable. How would you describe your character?

A. He definitely is a generous guy, an honest cop. He has a lot of flaws but with a good heart. He makes a lot of mistakes and is not a tough guy. Just a guy trying to do a good job and trying to do the right thing all the time.

Q. In the last season, the crazy Lila accused Angel of drugging and raping her. As a police detective wouldnt he have seen that coming?

A. Thats the one thing about Angel; hes a very trusting guy. He trusts when he shouldnt. You read about good cops sometimes getting into trouble. Sometimes the opposite sex blinds you. And it was great that Angel was not protected from that. He may not have seen that coming. He didnt expect that.

Q. Congratulations on your Satellite Award for Best Actor in a supporting role for Dexter. What was that like?

A. That was a pleasant surprise. There were a lot of good actors in that category. It was very nice and I really appreciated it.

Q. You have a very interesting background born in Puerto Rico, raised in the Bronx a New York City cop for 15 years who had an interest in Acting. What finally made you decide to give up a career in Law Enforcement to follow your dreams of being an Actor?

A. When I decided I wanted to be an actor I didnt give up my career in law enforcement right away. I worked at night, I studied in acting class I did a lot of plays. I was tired a lot of the time. Finally around 2000, I got the role on the HBO series, OZ and I thought this was something I wanted to pursue. I retired early and focused on acting.

Q. We loved you in HBOs OZ where you played prisoner, Enrique Morales. Which do you prefer, playing the bad guy or being the good guy?

A. Let me start by saying this is the best job Ive had so far. Of course, I love playing Angel hes a great character to play. I dont have any preference to me, I look at a script and see if the character is interesting. If the character is interesting, if its something that I can sink my teeth into, thats what I want to do.

Q. Tell me about your audition for Dexter. Do you feel that your background as a NY City cop helped you get this role?

A. You know, I dont know. I went in and I auditioned and they wanted me to fly to LA and test. I dont know if they even knew that I had a background in law enforcement. I didnt tell them. You have to go in and act well and get the job. It helps me as an actor the technique of law enforcement helps me, helps my character. I dont know if it helped me but maybe it did.

Q. Angel has a very specific style of clothes that he wears and I love the Panama hat. Is that the entire wardrobe people or have you brought in anything to your character?

A. I have to give the credit to the writers and the wardrobe people. I encourage the hats. But mostly the costume department. The wardrobe people have a good idea of this character and they deserve most of the credit.

Q. How do you like working with Michael C. Hall? And what have you learned from him?

A. Hes wonderful to work with. I learn from every actor I work with. I see how they approach their craft and the one thing I learned from Michael is focus. Hes very focused. Focusing eliminates confusion it keeps you in the character. Thats why hes so good in this role and thats why he was so good in Six Feet Under.

Q. Youve had quite an acting career doing everything from The Guiding Light to HBO series Oz to being directed by Academy Award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in the off Broadway play, ǣThe Little Flower of East Orange. Were you a bit intimidated by him?

A. No, Philip is a friend of mine and weve known each for over 15 years. Weve been in the same theater company for 15 years. Hes extremely talented as an actor and a director. I never pass on an opportunity to work with him. We work together well and Ill always want to work with him. Intimidated no. Excited to work with him, Yes and open to learning from him? Oh, yes.

Q. I understand you are one of the original members of the LA Bryinth Theatre Company and that is where you met your wife, actress Liza Colon. Was it love at first sight?

A. We were friends for many years first and then it just grew and developed from there. Weve been married now for 10 years.

Q. Congratulations, thats quite an accomplishment in Hollywood.

A. Yes, thank you.

Q. You are such an inspiration to Latinos who want to work in the Entertainment industry. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

A. Work hard, stay humble and just dont fill your mind with too much expectation. Be open to opportunities and go for it. And dont let things prevent you from moving forward in this business. If this is something you really want to do, just do it.

Q. How did you get your SAG card?

A. I got a part on Law & Order. I got this one quick scene as a paramedic and said something and thats how I got my SAG card.

Q. Going back to Dexter one of the quotes that struck me in the last season is when Angel tells Dexter ǣTell the Universe what you want. That sounds very New Age. What does Angel want?

A. Its the Secret. I think its one of those characteristics that Angel has. He always tries to find something positive in life. He had gotten through a divorce and was stabbed in the first season. Angel always tries to give a positive spin. I think he was trying to give the Secret a shot. That was actually fun that he was into that.

Q. And what does David want from the Universe?

A. You know, health good health for my kids. To continue working. I have so many good things to look back on and I want it to continue. I want our new president to come in and make changes I want the war to end I try to stay positive.

Q. When does the new season begin?

A. You can look to see us back in September.

Thank you so much for your time this afternoon. We look forward to watching you soon on Dexter and congratulations on your continued success!

About Lisa Zion, Contributing Writer:
Lisa Zion is an aspiring actor, singer and writer.

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