SNOWFALL -- Pictured: Filipe Valle Costa as Pedro Nava. CR: Matthias Clamer/FX
Filipe Valle Costa of FX’s Snowfall talks to Awards Daily about Season 2 of the series, stereotypes, and being an immigrant in America’s current political climate: ‘For the first time […], I’ve been having thoughts of, ‘Oh wow, maybe this is not the place to be.’”
If it hadn’t been for the Diversity Visa Lottery, Filipe Valle Costa might not have secured his breakout role of Pedro on FX’s Snowfall.
“Because I’m an actor, I wouldn’t have had another way of staying in the country had it not been for that diversity lottery” says Costa, “which Mr. Trump has gotten rid of, which is very sad.”
Naturally, immigration is a topic that’s close to Costa, something that has given him pause in light of recent events, with children being put in cages at the border and being separated from their parents.
“For the first time, as an immigrant in this country, I’ve been having thoughts of, ‘Oh wow, maybe this is not the place to be.’ It’s the first time I’m having those thoughts. When I went back home, my friends in Portugal were coming up to me and saying, ‘What is happening in that crazy country? Are they all crazy?’ There’s a part of me that feels American now. I started to take it personally. I didn’t talk back to them or anything, but I caught myself feeling sad about this beautiful land I dreamt about growing up, because everyone told me it was the land of dreams. I grew up watching these beautiful movies that are truly only made here.”
When asked what his life might have been like had he not emigrated to the United States, Costa laughs. “I think about that all the time. It’s really hard to look back and think what would my life have been. I think I’d still be the same. I would still be an actor. Of course it’s hard [in Portugal] to be an actor, it’s hard everywhere. I don’t know what version of my life that would be, but I’m pretty sure I would also be acting because it’s what I truly love doing.”
‘Sexy Latino Or Violent Latino’
What Costa loves doing, and is fiercely proud of, is playing troubled drug lord Pedro on the FX series co-created by John Singleton. Some critics of the show have criticized the series for its depictions of minorities, but Costa sees it as different from a lot of dramas on television and is very cognizant of why this show is more than stereotypes.
“Believe it or not, I go in for a lot of characters that sound in some shape or form like different versions of Pedro, the son of a Mexican kingpin. A lot of times, it’s seen through the lens of just violence or sexiness, whatever the stereotype is for a Latino person. I find myself going to a lot of auditions that are either the sexy Latino or the violent Latino. [On Snowfall] Yes, we’re telling another story about a Mexican drug family, but we’re also telling a story about how a drug affected a family specifically. I think that’s what’s really interesting about our show. It’s about that family and that cousin-cousin relationship and that father-son relationship and how that drug affected that. That voice was always in me, and I never wanted people to just see Pedro as just the punk he may be perceived as.”
On one of his first days on set for Season 1, Costa says that executive producer Thomas Schlamme came up to him during a scene where Pedro had a gun pointed at Gustavo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta). What Schlamme told him put it all into perspective.
“Tommy came up to me and just said, ‘You know what? He’s just really really scared.’ That moment for me [made me realize] we’re telling a story that’s not just about how menacing and threatening these characters are. They’re a couple of kids who got themselves into trouble and went too far. Those are stories that interest me more than the stereotypes we see way too often on TV.”
Snowfall Season 2
“It’s going to be very difficult to talk about this without spoiling anything.”
In Season 2 of the FX series, four months has passed since the events of Season 1 and we meet a new Pedro, which Costa describes as an awesome journey to go on as an actor.
“He is a different person. I think that’s mostly grounded in the fact that he’s just lost his father. He lived for his father. Really, Pedro’s life was about that. Now that that’s gone, what is left is this new man that you’re seeing, and I think a lot of Season 2 is asking how much of him is new and how much of him is still the old Pedro we saw in Season 1?”
While the show is often described as a crime drama series, it has as much family turmoil in it, if not more, than family dramas like This is Us.
“It’s a family that’s gone through a lot. Pedro lost his mom when he was very young. He’s had to live with his father, and all the ways that that affected that family has allowed them to stick together in many ways. It’s sad that we’ve found them at that moment when it falls apart. The story for Pedro is what happens to him when he loses family and what is this man without that.”
Despite the direction immigration has taken over the summer of 2018, Costa remains optimistic about the future and believes that shows like Snowfall have a hand in that.
“I think there’s a lot of work to be done, but the amount of awareness and action being taken now brings me hope. I feel like a show like Snowfall demonstrates a rainbow and a diversity of colors and perspectives. I think we’re going in that direction and I think it’s going to continue to go in that direction.”
Snowfall Season 2 premieres Thursday, July 19 on FX. Watch the trailer below.
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer that lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, The Cut, Paste, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thrillist, and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @heydudemeg.