If you ever craved an intimate conversation with Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza, to find out what she had to sacrifice to achieve her dream, or understand what it was like to be 100 percent open about your sexuality and hear the details from former porn star Vanessa del Rio, HBO Latino’s “Habla Women,” will give you that up-close experience.
Sixteen faces of exceptional everyday Latinas and two Latinos are featured telling some of their most personal stories in this 58-minute documentary, which will air on April 18, including some well-known faces: Food Network chef Daisy Martinez, comedian Rosemery Almonte, and poet and activist Caridad de la Luz “La Bruja.”
“This is something we couldn’t do without Latinas,” says the director of the award-winning 10-year-old HBO Latino “Habla” series, Alberto Ferreras. “Being a guy, I was amazed at how moved I was…We really wanted to give women the microphone.”
He says editing down the 40-minute interviews with these extraordinary, yet real, people was no easy task.
“By the time I finished crying with Rossana’s story, and Rosa, then came Sebastian,” says Ferreras, now smiling with his finished product.
Actress Gina Rodriguez says Ferreras first reached out to her about this project in 2010, and they started shooting in November of 2012. She says she would talk to his eyes in the camera, and he had an ability to make everyone so comfortable.
“He got the best out of every woman,” says Rodriguez, who is no stranger to the camera with her 2012 Sundance hit “Filly Brown” hitting theaters on April 19 and an ABC series holding deal in the works.
She says hearing women talk, such as a real-life nanny who loves the children she cares for as her own, and a teenage single mom who is now a teacher and author, makes her want to take on acting roles she previously shunned for being stereotypical.
“Now I want to play those roles and give them validity,” says the vivacious Rodriguez. “What’s beautiful is finding the perspectives that haven’t been told yet, and I think ‘Habla’ did that.”
“Curvy Girls” star and plus-size model Denise Bidot says one of the reasons the documentary flowed so seamlessly was that it was so easy to talk to the directors.
“They were genuinely interested in our stories,” says Bidot, who admitted it was a little hard seeing herself so up close and personal on the big screen. “You just can’t argue with realness.”
She also says it is perfect timing for this documentary because she feels as a nation what we really need is to be inspired.
Planetary geologist Adriana Ocampo says she has been inspired since the day she immigrated to California from Argentina. She says in the documentary that the first thing she said when she got off the plane at age 15 was, “Where’s NASA?” And that is where she works today.
Ocampo says it is coming to this country, plus education and perseverance, which has allowed her to be where she is today.
“‘Habla’ brings to context how the Latino culture is changing and evolving,” says Ocampo. “I see it as a living organism. It’s truly an experience that has made me grow.”
“I am so proud to be part of this, and I feel so empowered,” says Rodriguez. “I can’t wait to share this with the world.”