Interview with The Walking Dead star Paola Lázaro

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Paola Lazaro as Princess - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 15 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Paola Lazaro as Princess - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 15 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC /

Undead Walking had the opportunity to interview the multitalented Paola Lázaro about her debut as Princess on The Walking Dead.

Paola Lázaro is a natural when it comes to bringing Princess to life on The Walking Dead. The Puerto Rican actress is full of energy and enthusiasm for her work and her passion is palpable. Undead Walking was fortunate enough to chat with Lázaro about Princess and her time on the show, but the conversation began with something on everyone’s minds at the moment: Quarantine.

With everyone at home to help flatten the curve, it’s not surprising that there have been quite a few people who relate to Princess these days. Lázaro laughed and said that she’d seen something online about how Princess’ now famous “OH MY GOD HI!!!” introduction is going to be how people will feel going back outside. (We are definitely in agreement there!)

Before states started issuing shelter in place orders, Lázaro, a very talented playwright and theater star, was in the second week of rehearsals in Washington on her upcoming production when things were shut down. She’s still working from home, but thankfully she has had the debut of Princess on The Walking Dead to also provide a welcome distraction while staying inside the past few weeks.

In a lot of ways, the dioramas are what keeps Princess going after being alone for a year. Can you talk a little bit about these dioramas and whether you had any input in bringing them to life?

No, that was all the art and set design department. But when I read it, it was so exciting because I’m a playwright so the scenes with the dioramas are kind of like what I do when I write. I put two people in a situation in a room and I make these little vignettes and that’s exactly what Princess does, so I was really excited to see that in the writing. I was like, “Oh my God, this is so cool!” They’ve become her little community. It’s kind of endearing.

It’s not often that we get to see happiness in the apocalypse Princess made a decision to portray something happy, and she’s so welcoming. That says a lot about who she is as a character.

Yeah. I loved this so much. When I read it I just loved it. And we can relate to it so much right now and we’ll remember it someday when it’s safe to go back outside and interact with people again. 

There has been a lot of talk online that Princess might have ADHD or be suffering from a mental illness after being alone for so long, or it could be a combination of a lot of things. What do you think makes Princess the way she is?

I think it’s a combination of both. I think it’s the fact that she hasn’t seen anyone for so long, and also her past. In the comic books they talk about her past and it’s rather dark. I think it’s part of who she is, and she uses comedy and laughter as a defense mechanism, and she uses her anger like that. And using all of those things simultaneously in one sentence…

In one paragraph she went from feeling threatened to feeling like I’m going to fight you, to then feeling like she’s so sorry, come here, let’s hang out, no no no, I’m sorry for talking to you like that.

That’s what’s really exciting for me as an actor to see these long paragraphs [of dialogue] and see how she gets from Point A to Point B. But I think it’s part of her and part of her past and not seeing people for so long. 

One thing that I love about Princess is that even though she’s so friendly and welcoming you also get the distinct impression that you don’t want to cross her. 

Well, I think it comes down to whatever happened in her life before. And it’s also like she wants to trust the world but the world hasn’t trusted me and hasn’t been kind to me. And I think that’s where it comes from: I want to trust, I want to trust, I want to trust and then it’s like no, no, no you weren’t nice to me before, the world wasn’t nice to me before. I’ve to protect myself. It’s a defense mechanism. 

What was your experience arriving on The Walking Dead at such a big moment for the show?

Everyone has been so kind and welcoming to me. I get choked up thinking about it. It was a beautiful thing coming into it. It’s like I’ve been there for a long time. They really welcomed me into the family. It was so fun and exciting!

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Thankfully, we still have a lot to learn about Princess and we hope to see a lot more of her in The Walking Dead season 10 finale special and in season 11. Princess has made a huge impact in two short episodes and we’re excited to see where she goes from here.

Many thanks go out to Paola Lázaro for taking the time to chat with us!