It’s not easy to steal a scene in Curb Your Enthusiasm, but Keyla Monteroso Mejia might actually steal an entire season.
The 23-year-old, who grew up in the Inland Empire, California, was playing Maria Sophia, the current curse of Larry David’s always-banned existence. Through a series of overly complicated plot twists (involving a dead thief and a Santa Monica order that requires fences around private pools), Larry is blackmailed into choosing Maria in his new fantasy television show Inside-The Show, a biographical comedy about his early years in Brooklyn.
The problem is that Maria can’t act. In fact, she’s so bad and hilarious, one doubts that the actress she portrays must be a truly comedic genius. Which is why TheWrap teamed up with Mejia to tell the secrets of her amazing and shocking performance….
TheWrap: Well, there are two possibilities here. First, you are an awesome actress and only you are on screen. Or two, you’re awesome. I think it would probably be #2. I think bad camera acting takes an incredible amount of talent.
Killa Monterosso Mejia: Oh, you’re so cute. But frankly, honestly, I’ve been out of body experience a lot of my “Curb Your Enthusiasm” time. I just fainted. So, I have no idea how all this stuff got out of me. I have to give huge props to Jeff Schaeffer, who was the director in all the episodes I’ve done. He was great at pointing me in the right direction, telling me to “be bigger”. That was the rule – always get bigger and then we can lower it if we need to. In that sense, it was very liberating.
How does wise representation work? Did you decide what was the right choice for a scene and then ran in the opposite direction? Was that difficult for you?
This was not the easiest. I think comedy is tough in general. And then take on the task of being bad on top of that… though I don’t necessarily think of it as bad. I wasn’t trying to be bad. I was just trying to be Maria Sophia, and she I think it was good. I thought it was really Hassan. She was like, “Oh, I’ve got Hollywood in my pocket.” So, I wasn’t trying to be a bad actor. I was trying to be Maria Sophia and to live in the world you live in.
You got so into this character’s head that you were able to absorb her poor acting?
Yes kind of.
Were you comfortable with the optimization format?
To be completely honest, it was something I really dreaded. I am more of an analytical representative. I gained so much confidence from being 100% prepared, which is hard with “curb” because it’s impromptu. You don’t really know what you are going to get. Therefore, I have based the improvement on the work I have done and I know Maria Sofia very well. How did she move and how did she react.
Was there a moment the character snapped into place for you?
At first, I did this weird and groovy sexual version of her. It wasn’t until after I got better with Larry that it really started to take shape. I remember we did a scene where I sat in his chair, on Larry’s chair, and Larry got a little aggressive about it. Not physically but, you know, in his mannerisms and the way he talks to Maria Sofia. And Maria Sophia was like her own world. “I don’t care who you are!” That’s really when I started finding the character. Then there was another scene in the restaurant where Mariah’s dad was like, “You know, my daughter can dance.” This was the actor’s idea. I did it. But it was the last missing piece. Then I was like, ‘Yeah, I got it. This is it.’
How did you get this part? Did you go to audition for a bad actor or something?
It was just a generic send from my agent, and a self-tape I made with my coach. It was a scripted scene and one improvisation scene. And I did, like this weird version that was a mix between Aubrey Plaza and Stephanie Beatriz. Fortunately, that was enough to get an audition. They were like, “Hey, we’re going to get you to read with Larry David. The director will be there, the producers, the actors…” I said, ‘What?’ Don’t expect Larry David to come over for that kind of thing. So, I was very nervous.
How did you react to the character? Are you now getting 10 scenarios a day for bad acting parts?
You know, at first I was a bit nervous about Maria seeing others. I didn’t really have high expectations – if anything, I worried people wouldn’t like it. I thought people on the internet might be ashamed, shame me, or be mean. But I couldn’t be more wrong. The people were overwhelmingly positive. But to answer your question, I don’t get offers for bad acting parts but more like requests for comedy characters, which is really fun.
I know that before “Curb” you had a small part in the Netflix series, “On Our Block”, and that you got a much bigger role in the sequel to that show, “Freeridge”, which starts airing sometime next year, and you also played a vampire in A short Disney movie called “Growing Fans”…?
indeed. It was really exciting to show these opposite sides of the world and acting styles at the same time. The Disney short was released at the end of the summer and two months later, Curb appeared.
Is Maria Sofia staying for a while? Do you know what her story looks like for the rest of the season or even beyond?
Oh, there’s a little love for her this season for sure. But as far as anything that’s been going on this season, I’m not really sure. I mean, Larry David kind of likes that his stories start and end, and then move on to the next great idea he has. But if you ask me personally, I like to do it over and over again, as often as I can. It is my pleasure to do whatever comes to my mind. I’m not going to lie – I’m going to stay in this character for as long as possible.