entertainment

Mexico Is Becoming A Major Source Of Talent And Production For Netflix

narcos / romacuaron / Instagram

Mexico has long been a source for original stories and great talent when it comes to film and television. The country has also long exported some of best minds behind the camera, five out of six of the last best director Oscars have gone to Mexican filmmakers Alfonos Cuarón, Alejando Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. That’s why it’s no surprise streaming giant Netflix is increasing production in Mexico with more than 50 projects in different stages of production over the next two years. With award-winning projects like “Roma” and fan favorite series like “Narcos: Mexico,” Netflix is just tapping into the emerging talent and stories that Mexico has to offer.

While there has been streaming services prior to offer Spanish content, none have the reach and audience like Netflix.

With the expansion and investment in Mexico, Netflix is ushering in a new era for filmmakers, actors and a global audience that will get to view the work. The incoming projects include five new projects, a musical inspired by the music of Pedro Infante, a series of documentaries about the U.S.-Mexico border executive produced by Gael García Bernal, American Jesus, based on a comic by Mark Millar and a anticipated series about Selena. The increase in production is noticeable. As of 2017, only seven Netflix productions were made in Mexico.

“The richness of talent in front of and behind the camera in Mexico was key in our decision to begin our local production strategy four years ago,” Netflix Chief Executive Ted Sarandos said at a publicity event in Mexico City last month.

Netlfix is planning to open a new office in Mexico City to help increase production there.

The expansion to film and produce in Mexico comes natural for Netflix. It was the place where it first started producing non-English original programming when it expanded internationally to Latin America in 2011.

The numbers also show that international expansion is the way to go for the streaming service. More than half of Netflix’s audience is now international, and international subscriptions are growing faster than domestically. In the last quarter of 2018, Netflix added 1.5 million U.S. subscribers and 7.3 million international subscribers — a record increase. Netflix executives declined to release the number of subscribers it currently has in Mexico.

It’s also benefited those living in Mexico by providing job opportunities.
Over 100,000 Mexicans have already worked on Netflix Originals and this will only increase in the coming years.

Lenard Liberman, the CEO of LBI Media, the parent company to Burbank-based, Spanish-language EstrellaTV Networks says the combination of Netflix and Mexico is good sign for consumers.

“The fact that you have a Netflix now and you have independent producers producing, it’s created more diversity and more interesting formats,”
Liberman told The Hollywood Reporter. “Where it used to just be novella novella novella, the fact that there are so many platforms now looking for great content means that there’s a lot of people being creative.

Netflix is giving Mexico a platform to tell it’s stories and give actors from the region a chance to be exposed to a huge audience.

What made productions like “Roma” and “Narcos: Mexico” so successful was the authenticity it provided viewers. Part of that authenticity comes from the on-site location filming that Mexico brings.

The focus on production in the country has also exposed millions to stories and actors who audiences might have never been to introduced to. Erik Barmack, who recently left Netflix to start his own production company after serving as the vice president for international originals, says no matter where the production is filmed or where a story comes from, audiences will always love great content.

“People from around the world are used to watching things subtitled and dubbed — they’re just looking for stories,” Barmack told the LA Times. “They’re not thinking, what’s coming from the U.S. They’re just asking, ‘How do I find the most interesting things from around the world?’”

READ: Once Again, A Study Shows Latinos Continue To Lack Representation In Hollywood

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Karla Souza Is A Trilingual Entertainer Who Never Ceases To Amaze Us

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Karla Souza Is A Trilingual Entertainer Who Never Ceases To Amaze Us

karlasouza / Instagram

You might recognize Karla Souza as either your favorite Mexican telenovela star or as Laurel Castillo on “How to Get Away with Murder.” The actress is one of many Latinos who has crossed over from telenovela stardom to American markets.

If you had no idea that the actress has an entire, wildly successful career in Mexico, you’re going to want to sit down to truly meet Karla Souza and her ancestors who gave us Souza in all her trilingual glory.

Her full name is Karla Susana Olivares Souza.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

The actress is only 33 years old and has been working as an actress since she was 22 years old, in both Spanish and English language works.

Souza was born in Mexico City on December 11, 1985.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

That’s right. Our girl is a fierce, assertive and heart-open Sagittarius Mexicana. She lived in Mexico City until she was two years old and her family moved to Aspen, Colorado.

Souza attributes her blessings to her paternal abuelita, Elba Silva.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Elba moved to New York City from Chile in search of a better life. She became a U.S. citizen, which gave Souza’s own father a path to citizenship when he eventually decided to move to the U.S. years later.

Elba was revered for her courage and her “killer Chilean empanadas.”

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

In an op-ed for PopSugar, Souza writes that, “She made killer Chilean empanadas and was stubborn as all get out.” Elba worked as an assistant cook with the Rockefeller family for over 20 years. Elba’s husband became the Rockefellers’ gardener.

Souza’s Chilean father met her Mexicana madre in Mexico City.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Souza’s father ran his Mexican shoe business from Colorado for five years. Then, as Souza recalls, “I vaguely remember receiving the letter from then President, Bill Clinton, saying something like: “Congratulations! You are now a citizen of the United States of America.” Which to me meant nothing at the time.”

Souza lived in Europe for 8 years and returned to Mexico for another ten years.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

She is proud to be Mexican and proud to be Latina. She first studied acting at Centro de Educación Artística in Mexico city and then went to France to tour with a professional theatre company.

Souza speaks three languages fluently.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

She speaks English, Spanish and French so fluently, that she was offered a role in the French reality TV show “Star Academy.” She turned it down after receiving an invitation to study at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in acting.

She even studied acting in Moscow, Russia for a minute.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Souza has been tapped for numerous prestigious awards and invitations, including an acting intensive with Anatoly Smilianski at the end of her college career.

Her television debut was on Mexican telenovela “Verano de amor.”

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

She later scored starring roles in Mexican sitcoms “Los Héroes del Norte” and “La Clinica.” You might also recognize her from Mexican box office hits “Nosotros los Nobles,” “From Prada to Nada,” and “Instructions Not Included.”

She moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to be told she was not “Latina enough” for Latina roles.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

In an op-ed with Pop Sugar, Souza recounts how she would enter an audition for a character only described as “The Latina,” and be questioned. In her own words:

“I’m sorry . . . How exactly are you Latin?” asks the casting director before doing the scene.

“I’m Mexican,” Karla replies.

Still some doubt and skepticism on the casting director’s face prompts Karla to respond:

“My mother is Mexican and my dad is from Chile. I was born in Mexico City. I just moved to Los Angeles two weeks ago.”

Needless to say I didn’t book that job. I wasn’t “Latina enough.”

When she was cast for Shonda Rhimes’ legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder, they wrote her own background into her character’s story.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Why? Because if you’re Latina, you’re Latina enough, and your story is the story of a Latina. We love that Shonda Rhimes’ team included that her character, Laurel Castillo, was born in Mexico City, just like Souza.

Souza is teasing a project in which she seems to be playing an astronaut and we have questions.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Caption: “Space jam. 😉”

Stop teasing us, Souza! Are you playing first ever Latina astronaut, Ellen Ochoa? Quien es?

What we do know is she’s using her influence to elevate life for Mexicans and Latinxs in the U.S.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Caption: “TBT: Earlier this month magic happened when over 100 fierce Latinas gathered in LA. We talked about how we will use our collective influence & power to improve conditions for the Latinx community & everyone in the US. We made a commitment to ourselves and to each other. We are not sitting on the sidelines. Stay tuned for more information about what we are working on for the betterment of all. #LatinasLead #LatinaPower

Souza also co-founded the Los Angeles En México non-profit with Kate del Castillo, Ana De La Reguera and Olga Segura.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Her organization is focusing on the families in San Miguel Tecuanipa and how to rebuild their homes, livelihoods and security after the devastating earthquake in 2017.

Her TEDx talk is the most seen Spanish language talk in history.

CREDIT: TEDx / YouTube

Titled “Sweet are the Fruits of Adversity,” Souza’s talk has more than 3.7 million views to date. If you’re looking for Spanish-language inspo, you know where to go.

In May 2014, Souza married Marshall Trenkmann.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Trenkmann is a Texan banker, and the two had been together for awhile before tying the knot. They married just four months after their engagement.

The two have a daughter, Gianna, together.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

Four years into their marriage, they welcomed this sweet baby girl. You might have noticed if you keep up with How to Get Away with Murder.

She became an on-screen and IRL mom at the same time.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

How to Get Away with Murder adapted Karla’s real life pregnancy to her character, Laurel Castillo. Her character realized she was pregnant after the baby’s father died in a suspicious fire. :'(

“The one thing people don’t tell you about motherhood is that your life isn’t over.”

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

On Katie Lowes’ podcast “Katie’s Crib,” Souza talks about how she integrates motherhood into her existing, very busy schedule on set. You can tell she gets creative.

Souza is still making time during motherhood, acting and advocating for Latinxs to be part of the #TimesUp movement.

CREDIT: @karlasouza / Instagram

She revealed in February 2018 that she was raped by the director of a TV show she was in when she was 22 years old. She didn’t name her attacker but continues to link to the www.timesupnow.com in her Instagram profile.

We are shipping her, Gianna, everything she stands for and hopefully her role as Ellen Ochoa. 😍

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