Mexican cinema: Exclusive interview with Mabel Cadena, actress of El baile de los 41
Somehow or other, the pandemic favored Mexican cinema because several titles reached a large sector of the population thanks to streaming platforms; the theaters of millions of homes were turned into movie theaters to catch up with premieres that missed the bill for many people as a result of the periods of lockdown. Among those films, one can mention The goddess of asphalt and The dance of 41.
“You have to see The goddess of asphalt. That Ramira sends herself, “recommended a user on Twitter. “Wey, the daughter of Porfirio Díaz in The dance of 41 It is supreme ”, wrote another person in that same social network. “Does anyone know the name of the girl that appears in The goddess of asphalt and The dance of 41? Act really bastard, ”someone else asked in a tweet. Thus, the mysterious paths of cyberspace guided netizens to Mabel Cadena, a Mexican actress who has captivated audiences with her interpretations and multifaceted characters. Those who had the opportunity to attend Shorts México 2021 at the National Cinematheque could see it at Four minutes, a short film with outstanding comments made for its performance.
Recognized by critics as one of the best national histrionic talents of today, the actress has also managed to position herself in the audience’s taste for her work on camera. Likewise, his figure has been representative for actors and actresses with brown skin, this because they are usually discriminated against to star in projects.
He talks about this and more in an exclusive interview with Spoiler.
The goddess of asphalt
A very rare phenomenon occurs with this movie. Since its launch to date, it does not go unnoticed and generates controversy. They divide opinions regarding tastes, but there is one point that unifies criteria: the character of Ramira. Opinions agree that it is the best of the film. Among its distinctive aspects, they value the closeness and realness of a girl gang from the marginal area of Santa Fe in the early nineties and who was part of ‘Las Castradoras de Santa Fe’.
“At first I didn’t know if I wanted to make that movie. I took a few days to think about it because I wasn’t convinced I wanted to shave, for example. After a talk with Roberto Fiesco, the producer, I ended up in love with the project and convinced myself to take on the character without knowing how to work it. And it is that Ramira is a completely different woman from me “, Mabel comments.
Ramira is complex. First, we see her get out of prison, making us notice that she is a woman with a criminal past that she does not want to get rid of when she is free in her role as a gang member. Later we observe that his counterweight is the love and tenderness that he wants to express when he falls in love with a girl who breaks his heart. Between these extremes, his balance is the complicity he has with his companions, as well as his friendship with the goddess.
“Everything was new to me. She was not familiar with the language, she was not familiar with the locations, nor with some feelings. It was discovering a Mexico that he had not seen. He had read it, he had heard it, but he did not know it. The scenes we did at night allowed me to see how different the city was in the distance and it was impressive. I started to imagine what it was like to grow up in these places (slums), what the nights were like there, what happened to these women. The garbage dump was shocking because it was real, it was not an assembled set, and I did not hesitate to inhabit it, to be there, to make it our home. It was a very difficult process ”.
To understand Ramira even more, Mabel leaned on Ximena Romo, the protagonist, with whom she designed a teamwork to immerse herself in an atmosphere that both were completely unaware of. They had to walk for long periods of time to get attached to that neighborhood, learn to speak like gang girls from before, to live with the atmosphere of an urban area they were unfamiliar with.
“Something that I am grateful to Ramira is that she gave me a lot of courage to assume my energies, to accept myself as I am. Ramira confronted me too much, Mabel. This character taught me to overcome fears, to be more congruent and honest with myself. I was very fought with questions of my own nature, but Ramira appeared to take that burden off me ”, be honest.
The dance of 41
Wearing a corset every day so that Amada Díaz could ride a horse is an acting exercise that may not be distinguished from the painting, however, it involved strict discipline. Mabel must have done that rigorously for her role to be credible from start to finish in the film. At the same time, he had to dedicate himself to a momentous aspect that the public possibly did not detect immediately.
“It was a long process. It was a lot of information, it was a lot of rehearsals before filming. The only certainty I had is that I wanted to start with my hands to build the character. I wanted to work on the movement and smoothness of my hands to do everything as delicately as possible. That was a discovery that led me to play the piano, to embroidery, to calligraphy. All my energy was focused on the hands. I spent too much concentration on it. “
As the daughter of Porfirio Díaz and a member of a failed marriage in the face of her husband’s homosexuality, the actress made the most of her performance. That earned her an Ariel nomination as the best in her category, a distinction she wishes to share with Alfonso Herrera, her co-star, and David Pablos, director of the film.
“Alfonso had a lot to do with it because he is a very generous partner who gives you all the encouragement to be able to take your shot. He never left the set and that makes a huge difference when building something. On the other hand, David was meticulous in measuring everything for us. He measured the smile, he measured the gestures, he measured the look. He was very meticulous in those aspects, he took care of his expression. His way of directing led me to have full self-awareness of my face and my body, which led me to know special buttons of my being ”.
The complexity of giving life to a woman of the early twentieth century and whose privacy was immoral for the time, as well as painful for their purposes and illusions, It was a challenge for her with unexpected results in the perception she had of herself around self-esteem and security.
“Beloved gave me something nice as an actress. It gave me the ability to use my voice as a woman and as an actress, especially about how I want to use my voice as a woman as an actress. That’s something I had no notion of. The character came to show me the importance of that aspect because it gave me clarity to know how to dialogue with my directors in the construction of my characters. It is a step that I have not taken in my career ”.
Mabel is brunette. This feature is fully identified by the public, which in turn applauds it to the amazement that actresses with brown skin have leading roles that come out of the stereotype with which they are shown on screen. She breaks with the scheme of what some call “whitexican movies”, that is, productions that promote Mexicans as white beings, güeros.
In this sense, the actress is even valued as a banner of change in brown female characters. It can be said that it has opened doors for producers, directors and screenwriters to reflect, rethink and reinvent their intentions to tell stories in series or movies.
“I hope these opportunities continue to grow. Something I’m tired of is that we brunettes have to represent characters for whom it seems that we are unique in doing them. I would like to think that at some point we brunettes will be able to interpret women without having to talk about their context through the skin, without having to justify where they come from. Lately I have been questioning the fact that if a dark-haired woman plays an unusual role in what is seen, she has to be excused through clothing. For example, a millionaire brunette is highlighted with colors, with folk costumes, why? We don’t need that. You can dress like any other ”.
An advance that those who have seen his work also appreciate lies in showing that brunette actresses can take the star credit and not just be relegated as supporting elements with the responsibility of making their leading counterparts shine.
“A key point is in locating how the stories are being approached and how these characters are being approached. Hopefully there are more and more characters where we are not containing a main character, but rather we are the main character ”.
Mabel is aware that the characters she chooses come from less to more in terms of intensity and complexity, so the level of demand will be higher in her next projects. However, between smiles, he confesses that he would like to participate in a comedy, a genre that has not come close to making proposals.
“I like to do complex, confrontational characters, with wide possibilities to see myself in various ways of life, but I would love to do a comedy. I don’t know how it would go! To be honest, I would be very scared to do it because I don’t know how good I would be doing it. The truth is that I would like to do one ”.