Seeing that most roles she got offered left much to be desired, the Mexican actress stepped forward and created Cholawood Productions, a production company led by women and born to tell relevant stories, stepping away from stereotypes. Rodrigo Ros, Editor in Chief of TTV, spoke with her at Conecta Fiction.
This Tuesday, September 1, Conecta Fiction Reboot got off to an unbeatable start with the exclusive interview by Rodrigo Ros, editor-in-chief of TTV, to Mexican actress and producer Kate del Castillo.
The session inaugurated the event’s «Connecting with» space, designed to highlight the professional talent and human profile of important names in the fiction industry of the focus countries, which in this edition are the US and France (Alex Berger) .
From her home in Los Angeles, the popular Kate del Castillo, star of hits like La reina del sur (Telemundo) or Ingobernable (Netflix), emphasized the decision to take a leading role in content production.
“You get to an age where you do want to get involved. In order to do a job as an actress, I want to be involved in everything”, said the artist.
“When I’m the lead, I want to know that I’m going to work with great, professional people, and I’m not just talking about the actors, but also those behind the cameras. I need to know that what I am going to give to the public is going to be something of quality”.
Thus, she says that after many years working as an actress, she realized that the roles that she wanted to do were not reaching her. “Why? Because they are stereotyped. Women, and especially Latina women, are totally objectified. I’m sick of having to be the damsel who needs to be rescued. And those stereotypes are in almost all the characters that are offered to me”, she said.
The way she found a way to change things was to create her own projects: “I recruited two great friends of mine, two independent and intelligent women, to create Cholawood Productions.”
Those two women are seasoned industry executive Carmen Cervantes and prestigious journalist Jessica Maldonado.
After starting with a play, Cris Abrego, CEO of Endemol Shine North America, called them to invite them to produce with them. They signed a first-look deal and set up their offices in the Endemol building in Los Angeles.
Del Castillo takes stock of this alliance: “I am very happy, because we are three Latina women and we feel listened to, respected and supported in every way. And we are also creating a lot of jobs”.
THE OBLIGATION TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE
“How to break these stereotypes on the screen?”, asks Rodrigo Ros. Kate del Castillo is clear about it: “Very easy, but at the same time very difficult: changing the narrative.”
“Women who are already in important positions and who can start a narrative from our little trench, we have an obligation to do so,” she said.
For the Mexican actress, changing the narrative means fleeing from cliché characters. “If the character requires her to be neurotic, that’s fine, but not neurotic because she’s on her period. But usually they are pretty silly women who need the man to come rescue them. And we do not see independent and intelligent women who want justice for the simple fact of being women, and not because they have been raped and the motive is revenge.”
When it comes to selecting which projects Cholawood is going to bet on, and which ones to discard, they still face challenges. “Unfortunately many writers do not understand it.Many times it is difficult for me to understand. We come from thousands of years of seeing all this as normal, and it’s hard to get it out of your head. I am Mexican and I grew up in a super conservative family and in a totally macho society, so you grow up with all that.”
For the production companies, the key is to cast a very good writer, especially empowering female writers.
“We work so that at least the pilots, which is what we go out to do the pitches with, are very complete and have characters that we really want,” he ends.
THE NEW PROJECTS
Among the new projects that Kate del Castillo has in hand, two link her with Telemundo, an old friend.
“I have made a great friendship and a solid career in partnership with Telemundo. They called me to make Women’s Weapons. I am very happy because I haven’t done comedy on television in a long time, and this is a dark comedy. She is a new character that I think is great.”
The eight-part series, produced in conjunction with Telemundo Global Studios, will be the first Spanish-language series on NBCUniversal’s new platform, Peacock.
“I was already with Telemundo in the production of The Queen of the South 2 and I will also be in the third season, and now with Armas de mujer”. The Peacock series (three months of filming) and the third season of The Queen of the South (about seven months), a co-production of Telemundo Global Studios and Netflix, will occupy a large part of Kate’s 2021 calendar.
For this year, the actress and producer hopes to start producing two projects from Cholawood: the filming of her play I’m OKate, whose tour in the US was canceled due to the pandemic, and a show starring her father, the popular actor Eric del Castillo.
“The pandemic gives us the opportunity to do a great pre-production. As a producer, I am taking advantage of all this time to finish lifting everything so that when it is possible to leave, we are completely prepared,” she said.
Among those projects is Tequileando, a show that will take advantage of the experience of Endemol, “the kings of reality.”
It’s going to be seven nights drinking tequila with Kate. “I am going to bring celebrities from the US, actors, athletes, scientists … and show them Guadalajara, Jalisco, where tequila is made. We are going to go to my tequila store, where we do Honor del Castillo, and at night, in a beautiful hacienda, we are going to stay to sleep and see who can hold more tequila and what those who go can let go of me. It’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully we can start with that this year,” says the actress.
On the other hand, Cholawood is working on the development of two fiction series, adaptations of two books by Lydia Cacho, writer, journalist, activist and feminist. The author participates in both projects as a consultant.
“On the one hand there is Dr. Shock, a dark comedy, which I am going to star in. It tells of a Mexican sexologist who works in the US fixing the problems of men who have midlife crisis, and she helps them in a shocking way. She’s really funny,” explains Kate.
On the other hand, the production company will adapt the book Slavery Inc., which talks about human trafficking and how the author went to all parts of the world taking different identities.
“We are finding the right house for everyone. And also working so that the team of writers are what they have to be”, she concluded.