I’ve really enjoyed our telenovela conversations these past few weeks; listening to Mónica Montañés, Roberto Stopello, Daniela Bascope, Iván Tamayo, Vicente Albarracín, Marisa Román, Leonardo Padrón, and Carlota Sosa has been both informative and fascinating. But far more interesting than their answers were their mannerisms and facial expressions as we asked questions.
Dr. A tried to make it clear in class that we had to keep in mind that actors and actresses are real people, but hearing it and even thinking it doesn’t come close to seeing it for yourself. Connecting names that you see on a show’s credits- even the names of writers and producers- to a real person speaking to you over Skype is an almost surreal experience. And while it was cool to hear comments like how Carlota Sosa prefers to play villains or that Vicente Albarracín was shocked when he began working for Telemundo and had a much bigger budget, it was much cooler to see things and hear things that you wouldn’t see in one of their interviews with the paparazzi. From Albarracín declaring that, “the kisses I directed in Pasión Prohibido were the best in my whole life, better than my own real life kisses!” to Román saying that she loves walking on the streets by herself at night in Buenos Aires because she knows it’s so much safer than it would be in Caracas, the bits of their lives that they shared with us made them more and more real, lessening their celebrity status or perhaps raising us to meet it.
This humanizing aspect of the interviews is interesting for a lot of reasons: to begin with, it makes all of their causes- everything they work for, every cause they advocate, and every point they’d like to make- carry more weight. It’s easy to discount causes if we see them as only being supported by the rich and famous (if we aren’t rich and famous ourselves). It’s easy to say, “well, of course Montañés likes her female protagonists to have professional aspirations in addition to her romantic aspirations, she’s already successful so that’s realistic for her but not for me” (especially for her audiences in less developed countries). But when you hear her say it, and talk about it, and see her passion but also her very real flaws and humanity, it’s easier to be on board with that. It’s easy to say, “well, of course Padrón has the time to be a champion of causes like Asperger’s awareness, his life is perfect!” until you see the intensity with which he loves his country, learn that his own shirt was provided for an actor when they needed it, know that even he hasn’t read all the books in his house. And the same is true for the others: it’s easy to discount their causes and even their lifestyles, until you see that they too find it hard to hold the phone at the right angle when they Facetime or that they’ve decorated their house with the cheapest wall hangings they could find at the time- that they too are imperfect, and human, and real.
I think that’s one of the most important things I’ve gotten from this class- the reality behind every telenovela episode. Every actor, actress, producer, director, writer, cameraman, and even telenovela researcher brings a little bit of themselves to the screen to create the bit of entertainment that we see later. There’s reality behind each of them, and that makes the final product all the more spectacular.