Mexican actress Elizabeth Gutiérrez talks about her latest telenovela El Rostro de la Venganza.

When you watch Mexican actress Elizabeth Gutiérrez on primetime this season you won’t believe she wasn’t always a confident and beautiful woman. “Growing up, everybody knew me as the skinny, shy girl.” The youngest of seven children, “Betty”, as her family calls her, remembers coming to this country at the age of 10. “When I came to L.A., I remember crying with my mom. I didn’t want to go to school because I didn’t know the language. I was so afraid.” This was one of a multitude of challenges. As Mexican immigrants in the U.S., the living conditions were a little tight in their three bedroom rental. “We had to wait on line to go to the bathroom and we would take turns using the beds while the others slept on the floor.”

With everyone in each other’s pocket, Elizabeth somehow was able to keep her biggest dream a secret. “I would never dare tell my parents that I wanted to be an actress. When we watched telenovelas I used to think that everybody had a camera in their home until I realized it was just TV. It just always caught my attention.”

Now 23 years later, Gutiérrez has been in seven telenovelas including her most recent starring role as Mariana San Lucas on Telemundo’s, El Rostro de la Venganza. “It’s more like a thriller than a telenovela. There is a killer and you don’t know who it is. It keeps you on your toes all the time.” Along that same vein, it’s not your typical love story either. “Usually the rich girl falls in love with the poor boy in the first episode. In this story you never know who’s going to fall in love.”

As Mariana, Gutiérrez plays a not-so-nice girl that eventually reforms her man-eating ways. “She is someone trying to play the part of the bad girl but I think deep down inside she is just a lost puppy trying to be accepted.” Elizabeth understands what Mariana is all about but that’s as far as it goes. “I am nothing like her. I did a scene where I tell my love interest that I am in love with someone else and that I cheated on him and I’m like, ’Oh my God! How could anyone do this?’” While her character evolves, she does have quite a few lip-locking scenes along the way with on-screen father and son, Saul Lizaso and Jonathan Islas, as well as David Chocarro, but the question is how do they rate? “As far as who the best kisser is, it’s just a professional kiss, so they’re all the same to me,” she laughs.

But Elizabeth hasn’t always been immune to on-screen kisses. In 2002, while on the set of Protagonistas de Telenovelas 2 she met actor and Dancing with the Stars’ runner-up, William Levy, the man who would be the father of her two adorable children Christopher Alexander and Kailey Alexandra. The show also launched her career. ””I wouldn’t do something like that again but I don’t regret it either because from that point I realized okay, I really like this career.”

With all her success, Gutiérrez still has yet to reach her ultimate professional goal. “I want to work in the American market. I know that it is every actor’s hope but I think as an actress you want to try different things and evolve.”

When it comes to keeping her personal life going, including managing the children, it does take a village. “I’m very blessed to have William’s family helping me. I also have a nanny at home so I am surrounded by people that love my kids.” Levy is no slouch either. “Once in a while he will surprise us and cook. When William is not working he is always with them. He is just a great dad.” Lately, baseball is the main focus between father and son. “Right now they practice every day. He wants his son to be the best at everything.”

Considering their on-again-off-again relationship, Gutiérrez and Levy look to be in a good place. “It’s amazing to be able to build a future with someone that has the same dreams with you. I am truly blessed to have the family that I have— the family that William and I have become, the family that adopted me— his family— and my own family. So right now, I’m very satisfied with my life.”

El Rostro de la Venganza
Monday – Friday at 10:30pm/9:30c