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María Gabriela de Faría as her character, Maria.EXPAND
María Gabriela de Faría as her character, Maria.
Courtesy of Syfy

Deadly Class Star María Gabriela de Faría: "I Want to Show the World That Latinos Can Play Different Roles"

Who would have thought that in 2019 a show that delivers the diversity we crave would follow a bunch of would-be teenage assassins? Syfy sure did. The television network has adapted Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s graphic novel series Deadly Class into a program with a 10-episode order.

Remender grew up in the ‘80s and was heavily influenced by the era. Deadly Class takes place in 1987 San Francisco and follows Marcus Lopez as he starts his new deadly arts school, Kings Dominion. Much of what occurs in the story is based on Remender’s own experiences growing up. In fact, according to actor Michel Duval, who plays Chico on the show, the author was deeply involved in the production and even picked the music.

“The music is what takes you back and gives you this authentic sense of the show,” says Duval.

The actor, along with costar María Gabriela de Faría, was in town earlier this month to promote the new series. “There are so many shows about teenagers in high school, but this one is unique because it’s human and it’s real,” says Duval, promising every episode will have audiences on the edge of their seats.

De Faría, who plays Maria, adds that Deadly Class is an “unlikely coming-of-age story that takes place in a heightened world that is amplified by hormones and the fact that the characters are assassins in training. It still tackles familiar themes like love, revenge, grief… and there’s a lot of ‘80s nostalgia and great music.”

What’s unique about this show is that its characters portray a more authentic view of the world. Protagonist Marcus Lopez  — and the actor who plays him, Benjamin Wadsworth — are Mexican, and there's more diversity where that came from.

“This show is not diverse because it had to be,” de Faría points out. “It’s diverse because that is the world that Rick grew up in, and that is how the world is.”

Duval, who is also Mexican, and de Faría, who is Venezuelan, were visibly excited to talk about Deadly Class. But when asked how it feels to be part of such a diverse storyline, their enthusiasm quickly shifted to humility.

“I feel like it’s a great responsibility because there aren’t many roles like ours in Hollywood,” says de Faría. “I’ve never seen so many badass female characters in one show before that are not afraid to get the job done and that are portrayed as equals to the male characters… I want to be able to show the world that Latinos can be talented and can play different roles in successful TV shows and movies.”

Duval, a Mexico City native, feels this is an opportunity to elevate his culture and show the world a more authentic view of Mexicans. “I want to be the guy that another guy in Mexico City, at my age, who watches TV sees me and thinks that he can do anything… I hope that we inspire those not only in the Latino community but all around the world.”

Chico, as played by Michel Duval.
Chico, as played by Michel Duval.
Courtesy of Syfy

Because the characters Chico and Maria are Mexican, de Faría says, “it was important for Michel and I to speak Spanish on the show. Although the show takes place in San Francisco in this American school where they speak English, we have whole scenes where we speak Spanish because that’s how we speak to each other in real life. The studio was fantastic because they let us do it and really embraced our culture.”

The network allowed Duval and de Faría to recommend small script changes when a word or phrase didn’t make sense or feel authentic. “I would always get so frustrated seeing a Mexican character on TV who was even sometimes played by a Mexican-American, but when they spoke Spanish their accent or slang words were all wrong,” says Duval.

When asked how Deadly Class would differ if it took place in Miami, de Faría says with a laugh, “There would definitely be a lot more Latino music and flavor!” She would know — she lived here for a little over a year in 2012.

“I feel like our characters would feel like they’re on their own turf,” adds Duval. “They would be stronger because they’d have more support outside the school. But in San Francisco, it’s the perfect place for them to shine and stand out.”

Deadly Class premieres on Syfy Wednesday, January 16, at 10 p.m. Watch the first episode online now at syfy.com/deadlyclass.

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