Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Cinthya Carmona, one of the stars of Netflix's Greenhouse Academy, said her character faces new challenges in the upcoming third season -- and the actor has film director David Ayer to thank for helping her prepare.
Carmona plays Sophie Cardona, leader of the Eagles, one of the two houses at the Netflix original series' titular boarding school for gifted students. The actor told UPI in a recent interview that her character has some changes coming in Season 3, out Friday, as well as the already filmed Season 4.
"Someone from Sophie's past comes in and shakes things up a bit at the Greenhouse. You start to realize that Sophie Cardona isn't a perfect as she pretends to be," Carmona said.
She said the character "grows up a little bit in Seasons 3 and 4" and has "a dark past" that will be revealed to her friends and classmates.
Carmona said the darkness of the character was "easy to tap into" thanks to her recent work on The Tax Collector, an upcoming feature film from director Ayer (Bright, Suicide Squad).
She said her character in the film Alexis Cuevas also has "a very, very, very dark past."
Carmona said Alexis is the wife of David Cuevas (Bobby Soto), the titular tax collector who also leads a Latino organized crime group in Los Angeles.
"A new boss tries to take over the streets, and our worlds are completely turned upside down," Carmona said of the film's plot. "And it leaves David really no choice but to fight for his life, and our lives, and he's really giving it all he's got. This movie is really about the price of power."
Carmona said Ayer's filming process involved 2 1/2 months of rehearsal, an experience she has come to refer to as "David Ayer boot camp." Every day began with two hours of martial arts training under sensei Richard Mesquita.
"I can tell you that my character has absolutely no fighting in this movie, but I got up to my yellow belt, training for my orange belt, and I had 2 1/2 months of training -- jujitsu training, boxing training, American Kenpo karate -- because this is the way that David Ayer works," she said.
Martial arts training was followed by a lunch break, and then two to three hours of script rehearsal at Ayer's house.
"It was like a master class every day with David Ayer. He rigorously worked not only on the script, on the characters, but on ourselves. He made us dive so deep into ourselves, into our psyches, into our traumas, anything that we have experienced or have felt we had to let out in his living room," she recalled.
Carmona said she realized that once the cast was on set to shoot the film, the rehearsal process echoed Ayer's training in the U.S. Navy.
"He is so militant, I think in the best way possible," Carmona said. "Being on David Ayer's set, seeing the way that he runs his show -- you're a soldier. And he was getting us ready for war."
The actor said returning to Greenhouse Academy after filming The Tax Collector was like passing between "two different worlds."
She said the experience prepared her to take on the darker side of Sophie that emerges in Seasons 3 and 4.
"I text [Ayer] at least once a week, thanking him for opening up my eyes as much as he did in preparing me for The Tax Collector because I have grown as an actress in so many ways," she said.
Making a name for herself
Carmona first made a name for herself on Hulu original series East Los High. She joined the series as a regular for the fourth and final season, playing the ambitious and conniving dancer Brandie.
The series finale left many fans complaining of unaddressed loose ends and clamoring for more, a demand Carmona said she would be more than happy to oblige.
"I would kill to bring Brandie back for some more fun," she said. "I speak to the producers often, and some of the writers. From the sound of it, there may always be the opportunity to make a comeback. I would be extremely, extremely happy if they would decide to bring us back for a little more."
The series ended with Brandie achieving her goal of becoming captain of the Bomb Squad dance team, and Carmona said she has some ideas of where the character would be in a hypothetical 10-year reunion.
"I think she really loves to win, so I believe she would go for Hollywood, and then she would really get herself in trouble trying to be a professional dancer," Carmona said.
"Because you know Brandie, she would step over a few people along the way to get to where she needs to be. I would love to see Brandie in the entertainment industry, with the big dogs, and be as fierce as she is and try to take over the world. Brandie has that in her for sure."
Carmona said her biggest roles, Brandie, Sophie and Alexis, are different people at different stages of life, but they share certain traits as strong, ambitious women.
"I am my mother's daughter. My mother is a very strong, very independent, very opinionated woman, and I definitely have so much of that in my personality," Carmona said. "I've been able to play such a range of different ages -- high school, college, young mom, wife -- and they've all have very similar personalities in that they have very ambitious natures and are very strong in character, very powerful, very independent.
"That's a part of me, and it's really something that I'm proud of and proud to own that. Because I root for very strong female characters."
Season 3 of Greenhouse Academy premieres Friday on Netflix.