This past Friday I was fortunate enough to attend the red carpet event in LA for the world premiere of “Cougar’s, Inc.” a fairly low budget film with big name actors such as Denise Richards, Jim Belushi, Sarah Hyland (from Modern Family), Kathryn Morris (from Cold Case), Kyle Gallner (from Nightmare on Elm Street), among others. I was very proud to know that among all of these big time names was also my sister- a rising star and only Latina, Catalina Rodriguez.
Catalina was born in Colombia and was raised in Miami. She’s made a career in modeling and TV commercials for major brands, but her
passion is set on acting. Some of you may remember her from the CW’s “Watch Over Me” where she played the sexy villain Sasha, alongside Dayanara Torres. She’s also been in smaller movies such as “Spin” alongside Shalim (Charytin’s son) and Fernando Carrillo and has also finished shooting a movie with Ving Rhames, Steven Bauer (Scarface), and Hemky Madera (Weeds) set to release in 2012.
Working in advertising in New York City and knowing the growth and flux of the Hispanic market in the U.S. has meant
opportunities for Latinos across all categories. Here I was seeing the impact first hand, as my sister was finally in a movie that may hit the big screen in a few cities and is already On Demand (via Time Warner channel 1000). I obviously had a ton of questions for her. Here’s my conversation with her as she’s getting her hair and makeup done for the red carpet…
Cata (as I like to call her), how much fun was it to shoot alongside Denise Richards?
I had a blast! The entire cast was great. Denise is very nice and down-to-earth, she’s also very funny. I also had a great time ad-libbing with Chris Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s son), he’s got great energy and while off-set he’s quite and tranquil; on-set he completely transforms and really comes to life.
Your character in this movie is loud, extroverted and has a heavy accent. Being a bilingual/bicultural Latina that speaks English without an accent, did it bother you to have to portray the stereotypical Latina that has an accent on the big screen?
To be honest women such as Sofia Vergara, Penelope Cruz, and Salma Hayek have worked very hard to open these doors for me. I’m an actress that plays characters and Dominica (my character) is this woman…not a stereotype but a testament to all of those women out there who live in the states and have an accent. I came across women like this all of my life growing up in Miami so I wouldn’t consider them a stereotype but a part of our Latino mix in the U.S. Think about it, if I wouldn’t have played her somebody else would have and I’m just blessed to have gotten the part!
Do you think with the amount of Latinos influencing America, roles for Latinos in Hollywood will begin to change even more?
Sure! I think we’ve been seeing that evolution happen already. We now have women like Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, America Ferrera and Eva Mendes playing women on the small and big screen, not playing Latinas with an accent. They just happen to be Latinas adding a whole new dimension, talent and exotic look to Hollywood.
How hard has it been to break into Hollywood as a Latina?
Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t been easy. I still remember the words one of my acting coaches told me once when I first got to LA “Catalina, beautiful woman in Hollywood don’t play girl next door roles.” I was grateful that he put in that category of beautiful woman but now that just means I have to work even harder to not get type-casted because as we all know, there are many more girl next door roles in Hollywood than lead roles. The best part of all is that I have an amazing family that is an incredible support team – they all keep me positive and looking ahead.
Also, Hollywood is getting much more open-minded, I remember only a few years back I wouldn’t even get a second-call back because my last name was Rodriguez.
Have you thought about changing it?
Yeah I won’t lie, it’s crossed my mind. But at the same time why would I want to change what differentiates me?
After a few hours of more chat, Cata is ready to put on her dress and leaves us with this…
To all the Latinas going after their dream all I have to say is don’t give up! I don’t mean to sound like a cliche, b ut if you really want it than go for it regardless of what anyone says but get good at it – you need to master your craft. I do that everyday and feel great about myself knowing I am doing everything I can to achieve my dream…the worst thing that can happen is asking yourself in the future ‘what if’ or having any regrets for not being proactive.
I feel good about this chat and can only be proud of my sister. Regardless of whether she is playing a stereotype or not she’s rolling with the punches and beginning to make a name for herself. I can only imagine what Hollywood will look like in the year 2050 when Latinos are supposed to represent a projected 29% of the population. In the mean time, I’m excited for what is ahead and the doors we Latinos are paving for ourselves here in the U.S. everyday.