Alexa Mansour didn't plan for a career in Hollywood.
"I was really bullied when I was a kid and my mom put me into acting lessons to see if maybe I would open up and talk to people and hopefully make new friends," Mansour exclusively tells E! News. "And while it didn't really do that, I realized that I really liked acting."
That excitement toward playing different characters eventually landed her a string of first-few gigs in Madam Secretary, How to Get Away with Murder and Law and Order: SVU. And now, she's the lead in The Walking Dead: World Beyond, the latest installment from the horror franchise that airs Sunday, Oct. 4 on AMC.
In it, Mansour plays Hope, a troubled teen living with her sister 10 years after the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse. "Hope is the definition of teenage angst," she says. "She has a really tough exterior, but you'll come to realize that she's, like, so soft and such a big baby inside."
While Mansour makes landing that dream job sound like a walk in the park, the 24-year-old actress nearly gave up on her artistic pursuits. "If it wasn't for my mom and dad telling me to keep pushing through I probably would have quit," she says, noting she was auditioning about three to four times a day every day before the Walking Dead team noticed her. "The amount of lines that I had in my brain at one time was crazy."
For Mansour, taking on the role of Hope is an incredible opportunity to play someone a bit more ethnically ambiguous. As a biracial Latinx and Egyptian American woman, she says she began getting typecast after first playing Luna Garcia on Law and Order.
"I had the whole Mexican accent, fresh out of Mexico," Mansour said of her Law and Order role. "After that, I never booked any more Latina roles. And I always got told, well, you don't look very Latina. I ended up doing maybe four or five roles where I was playing a Middle Eastern girl, always with a very heavy accent. I loved the roles, they were really, really challenging to do, but I kind of just wanted to be ambiguous in a way. I didn't want a role that had any labels on where this girl is from, based on what she looks like, like she could be absolutely anything."
Luckily, she scored the perfect one.
Naturally, acting isn't Mansour's only skill. Citing Shakira and Enrique Iglesias as some of her favorite Latinx artists, she also notes she has a passion for singing and songwriting. In fact, she hopes getting a little more attention as an actor will amplify her musical efforts. In September, she dropped a new single, "Can't Stop Myself," and now she's gearing up to release another on November 27. An EP jam-packed with songs written in quarantine is set for a December release.
Be right back, we're plugging in headphones to catch up on her tracks.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond premieres Sunday, Oct. 4 at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.