"La Reina del Sur" Star Kate del Castillo Gets Real About the Lack of Strong Latina Roles in Hollywood
Season three of "La Reina del Sur" is finally here, and it's been a long time coming. The Telemundo series has been in the works for over a decade, and it stars Kate del Castillo as Teresa Mendoza, an unlikely cartel queenpin who rises through the ranks of the drug-smuggling world with nothing but her grit and street smarts. This season will show Mendoza in a way we've never seen her, as a spy and as a mother desperately trying to reunite with her daughter, Sofia. For 60 episodes, viewers will follow Mendoza's dangerous adventures through Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico as part of her new mission to end her life as a fugitive once and for all. "The whole story is growing and maturing in so many ways," del Castillo tells POPSUGAR. "You're going to see a Teresa Mendoza that we all love but more [of a] warrior. She's a warrior, she's gonna go out for justice. So it's a new Teresa but still the same in essence."
Fans will now meet a Teresa who, like del Castillo, has different priorities and wants a new storyline. In 2016, the "Ingobernable" star's real life became the stuff of corridos when the whole world learned she and actor Sean Penn had secretly met with cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Although she's become synonymous with her role as a narco queen, she seems to welcome the change, and rightfully so. "We are keeping away from narcos and the drug trafficking and all that, which I think is great," she says of the third season. "It has become more of a political thriller with a lot of action."
Del Castillo is also adamant that "La Reina" was never meant to perpetuate stereotypes or praise narco violence. "It's a reality that we have all those things in Latin America and in the US, but we never tried to praise it," she says. "I don't want to be Teresa Mendoza, you know?" Mendoza's larger-than-life character has become near and dear to del Castillo, but she admits that finding other Hollywood roles that feature strong Latinas in a nonsexual or stereotypical way is difficult.
"I feel kind of crazy and stupid that in 2022 I still receive scripts with so much stereotyping, and it just makes me sad and also angry."
"I feel kind of crazy and stupid that in 2022 I still receive scripts with so much stereotyping, and it just makes me sad and also angry," del Castillo says. "We are women and Latinas, and we are sexualized all the time by the industry, and it's about time that it changes. And it's kind of changing, it's just too slow." Representation as a whole is still a huge issue. The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study "Latinos in Film: Erasure on Screen & Behind the Camera Across 1,200 Popular Movies" found that across the 100 top-grossing movies from 2007-2018, only three percent of films featured leads or coleads with Latinx actors. And only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters were Latinx, despite Latinxs making up 39 percent of the population in California and 49 percent of the population in Los Angeles.
"I created my production company to create my own roles because I'm tired of being sexualized only because I'm Latina or being offered these roles that are so stereotyped."
"I created my production company to create my own roles because I'm tired of being sexualized only because I'm Latina or being offered these roles that are so stereotyped," del Castillo says. And they've been busy. Del Castillo cofounded Cholawood Productions in 2019 with partners Carmen Cervantes, an entertainment-industry exec, and journalist Jessica Maldonado.
"Armas de Mujer ('Til Jail Do Us Part)" premiered in September 2021, and "Hunting Ava Bravo" is available to stream on the Roku Channel and Prime Video. Del Castillo is also currently filming a movie called "A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow," executive producing the TV series "A Beautiful Lie," and preparing a late-night talk show with her as the host.
"I think there is a lot to learn still, and I feel like I'm still struggling, and that's fine," she says. "I'm a fighter, and I love my work, and I love what I do, and I will keep fighting to get the roles that I want."