America Olivo Kicks Ass

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Andrew Zaleski>Junior>English>Loyola University Maryland

…And in her new movie, Olivo does just that. A graduate of Juilliard, Olivo’s success earlier this decade came as a member of the girl group Soluna, cranking out dance songs in English and Spanish and sharing the stages of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall with the likes of Marc Antony and Enrique Iglesias. Parlaying a music career into an acting one, Olivo went on to guest star in a number of TV shows, including House and How I Met Your Mother, as well as several movies.

Now playing the part of Camero in Bitch Slap, America (pronounced: Amur-eeka) Olivo joins fellow actresses Julia Voth (Trixie) and Erin Cummings (Hel) starring in an exploitation film told in stylized flashback in reverse chronological order. As the three search for – something – in a desert, twists and turns ensue, unexpected characters show up, lying and deceit permeate and, in Olivo’s words, “Shit just starts blowing up.” Oh yeah, and they pour buckets of water on each other. What’s not to like? Lucky for us, we managed to snag an interview with Olivo to talk about her new movie, college life at Juilliard, what not to do on a date, and how she felt going completely nude for Playboy magazine.

Your new movie, Bitch Slap, is slated to hit theaters January 8. It’s like part Charlie’s Angels and part Grindhouse. How does it feel to be part of a trio of ass-kicking females?

Oh God, it’s great. Obviously the roles for Charlie’s Angels were taken and Grindhouse has been done, so to have the opportunity to be part of a kick-ass trio but done in a different way is great. I’ve struggled to find something that this film is similar to, because it’s not a spoof. It’s an exploitation film, but one that’s aware – with a wink and a nod. So it’s not exactly an exploitation film. It’s not exactly Grindhouse, [and] it’s not exactly Charlie’s Angels. It’s been fun to be a part of this trio, kicking ass, and yet be creating something that is a new kind of humor.

Compared to some of your other roles, like in Friday the 13th and The Last Resort, what’s different about your character, Camero, in this movie?

I’ve done a lot of roles where I played a lot of times women that are constantly victims. I’ve actually been more fortunate than most of my friends. I get to play a villain or the more stronger woman more often than not. But it’s still far and few between for women to get roles that are really tough ass, kick ass roles. So, yeah, I’m the girl who gets murdered in a tent because Jason doesn’t like the fact that she’s boning her boyfriend. And how can you compare that with being able to ride motorcycles and kick ass and have 7-minute fight scenes that are like real fight scenes? There’s just no comparison.

Did you do your own stunts for Bitch Slap?

The motorcycle’s kinda funny. That was on green screen. But as far as the fight scenes go, I did do those, all of them, but I was trained by Zoe Bell to do them. She took a lot of time out to train us, and she was also my stunt double. The only time that she steps in is not for a lack of me not being able to do it, or for her not being able to teach me to do it – because she’s a fantastic teacher – but it’s because for safety reasons. Stunts are paid to be the ones to know how to avoid danger, or if they get hit, they’re paid for that. Of course, if we get hurt, everything stops.

What struck me about the movie is how different it is from what you actually went to school for. You went to Juilliard and you got a bachelor’s degree in opera singing – what was the impetus behind that?

My father was a singer. He works as a plumbing contractor, but he was involved in community theater, and he sang and wrote some music. My mother was an actress and also a director and she directed lots of theater, and then growing up she did our community theater. And they would put on musicals and what not, and I played parts in some of the straight theater. I was just always involved in theater and music. It was just always a part of my family and my household.

Was Juilliard a different college experience? How would you say it compared to where some of your friends were going at the time?

We lovingly nicknamed Juilliard “the jailyard.” I got my ass kicked there, and learned all of the technical side of everything. It was much like going to college to be an Olympic athlete. It was very strict. You couldn’t have the heating on in your room because it would dry out your vocal cords, [and] you wouldn’t be able to perform the next day. You couldn’t have caffeine or alcohol, or stay out too late. You’d have to practice hours and hours and hours in any of your free time, and there wasn’t much of a social life, or pop culture, or television involved. And I learned what a beer pong was way, way, way too late in life. I’m sure you’ll find some that have had different experiences, but if you were really true to the Juilliard experience, we were pretty much nerds. We dressed in loafers.

I’m going to switch gears a lot here. You were the June 2009 cover model for Playboy. Good experience? Bad experience? Was it something you would do again?

Yeah, I don’t mind doing it again. I shot twice for Playboy. Once was just a one-pager that wasn’t a nudie shot, and it was for Friday the 13th. And then when I shot the cover and the full spread, I shot with Terry Richardson, who is like, the Andy Warhol of our time, he’s f–king fantastic. And to work with great, great artists like that … I don’t care what I’m doing. I would’ve been washing the floors. I don’t care if I was in front of the camera or not, or clothes on or not. I don’t know if anybody cares to see me again and again and again – they’ve seen just about every orifice that they could possibly see. But I enjoyed doing it. I felt it was very freeing.

So it wasn’t anything you thought was too over the top?

I have no regrets at all. It wasn’t lascivious, [or] anything uncomfortable or pornographic. My objective was to make sure that it was a shoot that I had control over, that represented how I felt about being nude. I wanted to express something in the shoot that wasn’t like, ‘Look as my ass,’ you know? It was more of like, let’s make this fun, let’s make it active, and rather than having it [be] come hither, let it be more of what my personality is, which is I’m gonna reach out and grab you and pull you in whether you like it or not. There are other sides to women other than ‘Look at my pretty ass.’ It’s sort of like, ‘Hey, you want it? Here it is! Whoo!’ I didn’t even get a full body makeover, or a waxing, or my nails done even. No hair extensions, no fake eyelashes, not a lot of make up – they painted my nails while I was in there. I was absolutely raw.

Kind of along the same vein, does it ever feel weird to you that there might be college guys with your Playboy? Are there any reservations about that, or a weirdness there thinking that you’re seen as a sex icon or something that could be on some college dude’s wall?

Oh well, as a woman… Any woman is a sex object to somebody out there, and it happens your whole life. A huge side of femininity is to know that you will be, somehow, somewhere, the object of some man’s affection in some way. I don’t think a woman can escape that. I feel like, at least it’s on my terms. If you want to objectify me, I’m on board, I’m with ya, and this is how I’d like ya to see me, and enjoy. Glad I could be of help. It’s all part of entertainment. It doesn’t change who I am, and it doesn’t certainly really matter much to me as long as I’m not getting in anybody’s way. I’m proud to have been able to get over a lot of my own insecurities as a woman, and to strip them away to the point of not wearing any clothing is an achievement for me emotionally.

Some college guys need serious help when it comes to dating. What’s your idea of a perfect date? Do you have tips for guys out there on how to treat a girl on a date, what they should do and not do?

Um, okay, don’t be a douche. A lot of men sit down and talk about themselves. Women really do not care about how much you work out. They really don’t care about who you hang out with. They don’t care about what you did or how dangerous the last thing you did was. That’s just the shit that women don’t care about. Women really seem to care when they’re cared about. If a man really wants to seduce a woman, make a woman feel like she is the only woman in the world that exists at that moment. Give her all of your attention and care about what she has to say and who she is. Be strong as a man is, but show a little bit of femininity. Show that you’re considerate, and be considerate and laugh. And be interested in what she has to say. Just be genuine – it’s much better to be really straightforward about who you are. And talking about sex on a first date, unless the girl brings it up, also probably, eehh.

So, tread away from that territory?

Well, yeah. I mean, unless the girl’s into it.

OK, final question: If you could give one piece of advice to guys in college, and then one piece of advice to girls in college, what would those two pieces of advice be?

One piece of advice to guys in college: wear a Jimmy hat. One piece of advice to girls in college: the same. But enjoy yourself wholeheartedly. Get it out of your system, but wear a condom. Please wear condoms, and wear them and use them all the time, as many times as you possibly can. Enjoy yourself all over the place, but with that. Because it’s the best time to enjoy that and to get it out of your system, so when you’re married some day you can laugh and look back and say, ‘Aw yeah, those were fun times, and now it’s time to be serious.’

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