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From Afterellen.com

Iyari Limon - Kennedy

By Sarah Warn

Tuesday 18 February 2003, by Webmaster

What is your background (where you grew up, ethnicity, etc.)? I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to California when I was 1. So as far as my "ethnicity" I guess I would say I’m Mexican since I was born in Mexico. I was raised here, so I would also say I’m American. As for my background, well mostly French, Spanish, Indian, and some German. But as I say, what’s in a gene. Although it shouldn’t matter what race or sexual preference anyone is in general.

What are you hobbies, interests, special skills, etc? I love to travel and meet people from all over the earth, I like to be introduced to different beliefs, customs, languages, environments, and food; I love to eat! I love to explore and I get bored easily so traveling always brings something fresh and new my way. Movies. Love them. People. Love to observe them. Animals. Absolutely adore them! Right along with babies. Music, music, music. Oh, and I love Golden Grahams.

What inspired you to get into acting? Is there a particular actor/actress whom you admire? Acting got into me. The bug probably got planted in me at the age of 18 months. My mom says she used to find me standing in front of the mirrored closet talking to myself as if it was another person; I’d create my own little scene. I would’ve worried if I was her. Lol.

I love, admire and respect Meryl Streep, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Robin Williams (I hope to work with him someday!) The two other people closer to my age who I find myself looking up to would be Natalie Portman and Milla Jovovich. I also dig Kirsten Dunst.

Is there anyone in particular in your life who helped you get to where you are today? (e.g. parents, teachers, significant other, friend, agent, etc.) Well, my parents never really wanted me to pursue acting as my career. And although they’ve grown more supportive through the years, they still try to convince me every once in a while to give the "Doctor" or "Lawyer" thing a try. But I’ve learned that I need to be true to myself and follow my own heart. Thus I made the decision to never give up. And I was blessed along the way with and agent that believed in me (thanks Larry) and a few years later with a guy named Efren, who always inspired me to keep going. He really made me feel special; our relationship was very symbiotic and a true blessing. Also, as an observer of life, I find that every experience has affected my acting in ways too numerous to describe, and in turn those moments have given me that independent spirit to push on despite all the odds.

What are your long-term goals, both personally and professionally? I would love to find the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and eventually have a family. My other dream. I think I’ve felt ready to be a mom since I was probably 12! Haha! But I believe that will work itself out. And I want to work in big films, and have different homes in different parts of the world. And just live. Experience. Love.

What did you have to do to audition for Kennedy, and what was your reaction when you found out you’d gotten the part? I had previously auditioned for Joss a couple times for Firefly, but never booked any of the roles. Then came Kennedy, which I loved. Although at this point all I knew was that it was to be a one-time guest star. As soon as I left the audition, I called my agent asking him to get some feedback. The waiting period could be nerve wrecking at times, you know? Needless to say, I was very excited, and soon enough my friend and I found ourselves jumping up and down; literally. I was so excited to finally get to work for Joss, especially in this role!

How did you prepare for the role of Kennedy? Lots of time at gay bars and watching Ellen live! LOL Just kidding. No, seriously I do love Ellen. How did I prepare? Kennedy is the type of role you just jump into and enjoy the ride; wherever she takes you.:)

Do you identify at all with Kennedy? What attracted you to this role? There are a lot of things about Kennedy in which I identify with. She’s strong, independent, courageous, honest and will call you on your sh#*. Not to mention she takes initiative. But there’s also a really playful side to her and a vulnerability that she only shows to the right people. ;) I can’t say I myself usually take as much initiative, but I most definitely share her strength and independence. As for the honesty part, I might be way too honest; I’ve gotten myself into some messes by being too blunt. That’s one of the reasons why I love Kennedy. She gets to be honest and lay it all out there, and as Kennedy I get to do that!

Did you have any qualms about playing a lesbian character? Well, I was a little nervous about it at first, but that’s what makes it a challenge. And then I found it wasn’t a big deal at all. So now I’m just enjoying it. Plus some of the coolest people I know are gay! It’s definitely an opportunity for me to explore and grow not only as a person but as an artist. I’m really enjoying walking in Kennedy’s shoes and taking her journey.

Did you watch Buffy before being cast in the role? What do you like about the show? It’s a funny drama. It makes me laugh and cry. Plus it’s always unpredictable and full of surprises. And each character is different with their own story and identity. I also love fiction that has to do with witches, fairies, vamps, etc…. is there a word for that? I probably should know. And Buffy makes it all believable, at least for the time being. Along with beautiful photography and composition.

Were you concerned or nervous about joining such a tight-knit group of actors, who have worked together for so many years? It’s always a little scary going to a new school in their senior year, but they’ve made me feel very comfortable.

How was your experience working with the other Buffy actors, especially Alyson Hannigan? The actors have been very gracious. It truly has been a learning experience. And Alyson is very professional. She’s been playing the role for going on 7 years and knows exactly what Willow would do in certain situations. It’s great working with someone who is so different from their character, yet knows how the character thinks and reacts.

What was it like to kiss her? It wasn’t a big deal. I really can’t say I was in the moment kissing Alyson. I can say it was really nice for Kennedy. She really likes Willow, so yes she indeed experienced all those feelings one gets just before kissing someone they really like for the first time.

Most new characters on a television series are introduced in order to impact or help develop the main characters—what do you see as Kennedy’s role in Willow’s character development? Well, Willow needed to move out of the sad Tara phase. Kennedy is a completely different character that will hopefully bring out a different side of Willow, keeping everything fresh.

Buffy fans are notoriously devoted and actively outspoken about their likes and dislikes of the show; were you nervous at all about their reaction to you/your character when joining the show? Yup. At Buffy, the fans are the air that helps the show breathe. No one wants to come into a show and try to take the emotional space of another character. There are instant comparisons, of course. I mean I’m sure there are people still out there that think Ellen and Anne should have stuck it out. I realize, that in most instances, it’s not personal.

Buffy has a long history of women who kick ass (Buffy, Faith, etc.); how do you think Kennedy will fit into this tradition, and what qualities will she add to the slayer tradition? Kennedy is a very strong soul. As a character Kennedy is growing increasingly stronger. Who knows what will come from the creative minds at Buffy?

How do you see Kennedy differing from Buffy, and particularly with Faith, who is returning later this season (and to whom Kennedy is often compared by fans)? Kennedy isn’t a Slayer, only a Potential. And Kennedy has bits of emotion that slip out, whereas Buffy and Faith keep it all in.

Is there anything that you would say to the fans of Tara who were disappointed by her death in Season 6, and who may have reservations about whether Willow’s character should be allowed to "move on" in her life? Tara and the actress who played her are irreplaceable. And I personally loved Tara, and also really like Amber although I only met her briefly. Her impact on the show will live on through DVD and the FX channel, as well as anyone who has ever watched the show. Hopefully Kennedy will spark something in the fans and in Willow.

I know you can’t reveal too much about future Willow-Kennedy developments, but can you give any hints? No, sorry. Honestly, I get the script the day or night before we start shooting.

What do you plan to do after Buffy? Um, I don’t really know yet. I try to go day by day and live in the moment. I will embrace whatever life has coming my way. I’m not saying I don’t have big ambitions and high expectations, but if I focus too much on the future I can’t really enjoy the present ;)

What’s the most unexpected result of your new fame? The new Kennedy cereal, featuring a Kennedy doll. Just kidding. All I can say is, "it’s never what you think it is and anything can happen." I’ve been able to meet a lot of new people, and occasionally, yes, I have been recognized by Buffy fans who I find are super nice. But beyond that, my life is pretty much the same. My soul remains the same, but my experiences are broadening.

As you may know, there has only been one other primary or secondary lesbian character on television ever to be played by a Latina or Mexican-American actress (Lisa Vidal’s character on ER was the first, but she has a much smaller role on the series than Kennedy does on Buffy); how do you feel about making this kind of contribution to television history? This is great time for latinos in the arts. And I’m glad :) to bring another positive latino/lesbian character to the television history.

Anything else you want to say to your fans? I want to say that I feel so happy to be a part of the Buffy legacy, even if it’s the last year. I’m really lucky to be on a show where the fans are so involved, and loyal, and caring. Also I have met some amazing people!