As shrewd law student Laurel Castillo in How to Get Away with Murder, Karla Souza is embedded in one of prime-time's most intriguing scandals — and one of the biggest hits of the past season.
But well before joining ABC's Thursday-night juggernaut, the globe¬trotting actress was a star of Spanish-language entertainment.
Souza has lived and studied in Mexico (where she was born), the U.S., France, England and Russia (where she took an intensive Stanislavski acting course).
"My dad was passionate about us seeing the world and different cultures and knowing that we're not the center of the universe," she explains.
Her first taste of Hollywood came age seven, when she landed a bit part the film Aspen Extreme. By 22 she was ready to move to L.A., "with a stop in Mexico."
That little stopover turned into roles in a telenovela, a few sitcoms and several films, including the record-breaking blockbusters Nosotros los nobles (The Noble Family) and No se aceptan devoluciones (Instructions Not Included) "It a crazy moment in my career.”
Hollywood was calling, but the transition wasn't easy.
"Coming from [a place] where they're offering you parts left and right, and brands are throwing money at you, to a place where people don't even know your name and you have to fight to get into auditions was challenging," she admits.
"Pete [Nowalk, creator-executive producer of HTGAWM] didn't even know who I was. Way down the line in auditions, they were like, 'Are you a Mexican star?'"
Viewers of the series didn't learn until midseason that Laurel comes from a Spanish-speaking family, and a wealthy one at that.
Souza is hoping for more twists next season.
In the meantime the actress also longs for a juicy French-language project: "I wish my career to be as diverse as my life has been."