Ashley Zamora does not smoke, so when TV Land's new show "Lopez" cast her to play George Lopez's daughter, she took a break from college and left her job as a tobacconist to move to Los Angeles.
"I know everything about tobacco and cigars, but I don't smoke," Zamora said. "Everybody smoked, and it just isn't my thing."
Zamora, 19, balanced auditions and callbacks, all while working at the shop and attending College of the Canyons, a community college in Santa Clarita, California. Her Cuban-American parents pushed her to pursue a college education, but midway through her second semester, she landed "Lopez."
"My callback for 'Lopez' was a half hour before I had to clock in at work, and I tend to keep auditions to myself because if you tell a lot of people you jinx it," Zamora said. "I was working my day job when I got the call."
After celebrating with her co-workers, the first person Zamora called was her mother, who was "off-the-wall excited" that her daughter's hard work paid off.
While growing up in Texas, Zamora said she felt included, but also separated at time, from the large Mexican community. People were surprised by her ability to speak Spanish, and also questioned her Cuban accent and her white skin.
"Latin people and the Latin culture is tight knit and close," Zamora said. "We all have the same language, similar cultures. We have discrepancies between countries, sure, but we are one people. It is super fun and important to explore different cultures."
Her parents and abuela made sure to teach her to love her heritage by speaking Spanish at home, eating Cuban food and "always bumping music."
"I am Cuban-American and I am proud of it; my parents instilled that on me at a young age," Zamora said. "I grew up with grandmother who lives with us, and she raised me and my sisters."
When Zamora finished high school, her parents said she "could not sit around" and wait for her acting career to pick up. Because acting was her true passion, Zamora worked tirelessly, giving "110 percent" until she landed a part.
"You always give your absolute best because people are looking for the best in the industry," Zamora said. "You need to stand out and shine over everybody, bring more and work harder."
Dealing with rejection has only inspired Zamora to put her best foot forward at auditions. She said she leaves auditions knowing she tried her hardest, and if she does not get a role, that is out of her control.
"A lot of people do the minimum, and the person who gets hired gives the maximum," Zamora said. "You can only control what you do and how you do it, and if you do that you will shine though."