We have to admit, we were a little nervous before sitting down to chat with Stephanie Beatriz. The gorgeous actress plays the tough, sexy, and a tiny bit scary Detective Rosa Diaz on the Golden Globe-winning series Brooklyn 99, but in real life, she’s one of the sweetest, funniest, and freshest faces on TV.

We caught up with her to talk about everything from improving with Andy Samberg to controlling her road rage. Check out how this on-screen badass (and former Pop Physique fitness instructor) stays fab, fit, and funny while killing it on one of our fave shows!

Your part as Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 99 is one of your first major television roles, but you’ve been acting for a while. How did you get your start?
I’ve been acting professionally since I graduated college. I mostly worked in regional theater. I live in New York, but I worked in theaters all over the country doing a bunch of different plays. And then, one time I decided that I really wanted to try LA. I wanted to see what it was like. And so we came, and I got very, very lucky to book Brooklyn 99. I’d like to think that some of the theater helped.

What was the audition process for Brooklyn 99 like? Did you have to do a lot of improv?
The improv came during the screen test actually, which is the very last audition. Andy [Samberg] was there and they had us improv together for a little bit. It was really fun, but I was nervous, of course. It was like, “how would you like to meet Andy Samberg for the first time in your final audition for his television show?

Ah, nerve racking! But now that you got the part, is there a lot of improving on set?
There is some improving on set for sure. We have something that we call the “fun run,” which is like, once the director and the producers feel like they’ve gotten everything they need to make the scene work, they’ll let us do the scene one more time [for fun]. And we try to hit the main story points in the scene with anything funny that’s come up or that’s thrown out there, and sometimes they use that stuff!

But we have such good writers that most of the time the improv is based on what they’ve already written.

I’ve never taken an improv class though; I really want to. I definitely studied it in school for a little bit. Although, I’m working with Joe Lo Truglio from The State, you know? My improv skills are not up to par! So I’m usually just watching everybody else be amazing at it, and once in a while I’ll have a little something I’ll slip in. I’m gaining a confidence. Working on this show is like a master class in improv.

Your character Rosa is such a badass, but you seem so sweet! Is it hard for you to play a little meaner on screen?
I think it’s more fun than anything else. I mean, you know. You’ve had your moments of badassery, everyone has. Somebody pushes you to the limit and you become like an amazon queen for two seconds. So I think that I’m just sort of tapping into that. Every woman that I know has that part of her, and I’m just sort of accessing it and turning up the volume on that part of the music.

Does it spill over to the rest of your life?
You know, the only time that I get really cranky is in traffic. Like, I say some horrible things to strangers in traffic but in the comfort of my own enclosed vehicle. It’s safe that way. You can’t act like that in real life without being able to back it up. And Rosa can back it up. Me? I’m not so sure.

I read somewhere that you used to be a fitness instructor at Pop Physique. It’s hard to imagine you as this peppy teacher. Were you bubbly and encouraging or were you a hard-ass like Rosa?
I would say that my classes were very fast-paced, really focused on form, and really encouraging.

Like, for example, the thigh section. It’s really, really hard. If you’ve ever taken a barre class before, you know. You start shaking in that section right away.

So you need the instructor to be the voice in your head, to drown out the voice that’s saying, “you cant finish this, you’re not strong enough, that girl next to you is better than you.” You need the instructor to keep talking and telling you that you’re a badass, that you can finish this, that you’re stronger than you think.

In the very end of the thigh section, I used to say, “close your eyes and listen to me right now. There are a lot of people in your life that are probably telling you no about a lot of things, but I am telling you yes. You can finish it right now. This is it.” It was amazing!

Since we’ve got you here, how about some tips for us about keeping fit on a busy schedule?
I always try to take Pop [Physique] a few times a week. A least three times a week, otherwise I don’t feel normal. But you know, the normal things like, “make it a priority blah blah.” Those things are hard!

Another workout I really love is a workout by a friend of mine, called the Under 20 Workout. It’s awesome. It’s all online, and literally under 20 minutes. It’s high-intensity intervals. During the week, when I’m filming, that’s the way I get cardio. A couple of times I’ve even done it on set in my dressing room on a lunch break.

The main thing is just like, keep doing it! Even when your brain is like, “oh my God, you’re so tired, you should just stay in bed,” that’s just your brain resisting the real person that you want to become.

Like that’s the shitty part of your brain that’s like, “you can’t do it, you’ll never be that person.” You just have to ignore it. You have to ignore it and tell it to shut the hell up. And get up and do your workout.

xx, The FabFitFun Team