Vanessa Verduga is a lawyer during the day and a superhero at night. She has taken the two things she loves the most — acting and justice — and combined them into one web series. And she’s funded it all by herself.
In this new comedy-drama Web series which Verduga writes, produces and stars in, she plays Sofía Escala, a.k.a. “Justice Woman” — a spunky Assistant D.A. by day, and defender of justice by night. With the help of her office-mate and sidekick, Robert (Roberta) Gallion, she tackles real-life issues in our legal system with a dose of humor.
“The name came to me about six years ago, and the domain name was available,” says Verduga who listened to her gut and purchased the name. “I was always thinking, ‘What am I going to do with it?’”
She says when she graduated law school, she wasn’t fully happy.
“I wanted to be an actress, but I had to be realistic — my bills and my loans are going to start,” says Verduga about how she decided to just buckle down and do it all. “I had my own firm for two years from 2007-09. I thought I could take on cases and still act — acting was supposed to be like my therapy, but I ended up falling in love with it.”
She says she still loves everything about being a lawyer, but she sees herself telling stories, inspiring, or helping out in some other way.
“I always feel like there’s so much more I could be doing,” says the multi-talented Ecuadorian-Spanish-Italian-American who also felt constricted in the world of acting. “As a Latina, I got tired of the stereotypes. I got tired of asking to play the maid when I’m an attorney in real life.”
It was around two years ago when she says she decided to create the Web series.
“I’m not going to wait around for anybody,” says Verduga who was anxious to start her project and not wait for a cable network to pick it up. “We started filming a year and a half ago, and I’ve been working my butt off to fund it.”
Since the premiere of the series on October 4, Verduga and her small team are currently finishing up seasons 4 and 5. She says every season has three episodes — about 10 minutes each. The episodes will air every 10 days or so, so that the whole season gets released within a month. Season 2 will air in January, after the holidays, but Verduga promises it will be action packed.
“We’re alike in many ways,” says the actress comparing herself to her assertive and headstrong superhero alter ego. “There is a little bit of me in every one of the characters…”
She says she even relates to her risqué gay sidekick, Robert/Roberta.
“I knew I wanted a sidekick, but he didn’t come until the whole ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ thing came about,” says Verduga about the military policy for homosexuals which really upset her. “Homosexuality has existed throughout centuries, and I prefer it to be out in the open than have it in the closet and tearing families apart. “He also has his issues that he comes to term with — being gay and being a lawyer.”
She says one of her biggest inspirations is her favorite childhood super hero — Batman.
“The thing I loved, loved, loved was that he’s not some Amazonian god — he doesn’t have powers from some galaxy — he’s a person,” says Verduga. “That’s how I saw Justice Woman. A regular human person, a mortal.”
And just like Justice Woman, she says she wants to use the skills she has to empower others.
“Clients love me, because I taught them everything — it’s about educating and teaching,” she says. “That’s pretty much what I’m more passionate about…empowering others…Even in making ‘Justice Woman,’ you can create your own rules. Do your own thing. It’s hard work, but you can do it.”