Vanessa Rubio is the actress giving life to Carmen Diaz on the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai. The 38-year-old New Jersey-born Colombian appreciates portraying the role of an intelligent and strong woman. Rubio, who stars as the mother of Miguel (played by Xolo Maridueña) and the love interest of Johnny Lawrence, played by William Michael Zabka, became a regular of the show’s fourth season.
In a recent interview for The Hollywood Reporter, Rubio discussed her participation in the show. “It is nice to be part of a family unit that feels like it could exist on its own, separate from Cobra Kai; a Latino family, not particularly entrenched stereotypical Latino story types,” Rubio tells the publication. “It is just a joy to bring that character to life.”
According to the magazine, Vanessa is a self-described kid of the ’80s; therefore, her familiarity with the iconic franchise goes back to The Karate Kid. Fast forward to 2022, Rubio stars in the martial arts comedy-drama and a sequel to the original films. The actress said that season four would examine her role’s relationship.
“We will see where it goes,” she said. “But I think their relationship shows that Carmen’s presence in the show is distinct. She is the candle flame; we are all hoping Johnny will follow and better himself when he gets there. A second chance love story is relatable to a lot of people.”
Besides having an on-screen relationship, her character also shows a special bond with her son Miguel. According to the actress, she has also watched Xolo grow as an actor and a young man.
“He is amazing,” she said. “And he and I understand our Latino representation and have fun building the Diaz dynamic through all these seasons. Representation is a big deal. When I read the statistics about how little Latinos are represented, like 3.5 percent on film and TV. And of that 3.5 figure, 5 percent are speaking roles. It can drive you nuts.”
Vanessa said that there is no “heaviness on our shoulders,” but she does feel empowered and responsible for representing correctly the culture. “I feel a responsibility for this character because I know she means so much more in the great scheme of people seeing themselves on screen,” she says.
Adding, “and I appreciate the character so much because she represents a very dignified, stable, unified force in this story. The producers and creators are very responsive to the ideas I have to offer because, as a Latina, I do have to say these things even more. So I feel more empowered to do that; I don’t mind repeating myself.”
Rubio said that she feels great satisfaction with Carmen because she was introduced as a strong mother working in the medical field. “She started out as a strong-willed single mother, but now she is blooming into her essence, allowing Miguel to fly and make his own mistakes,” Rubio says. “I think they went through the worst of it in season three. And so we will see the recovery in season four and season five.”