Reprint courtesy of HOLA
By A.B. Lugo
Ever since La Madrina, the female Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco, was killed in a drive-by assassination in 2012, Hollywood has been clamoring to tell her story. Now there is The Godmother which has just been announced.
Overdone Colombian cartel trope? Check. Based on a true story? Check. Strong female lead to get the feminist angle (and female audience)? Check and check.
Let’s get a strong director for this film. Who can tell this story of a South American “queenpin”? I know, let’s get Eva Sørhaug. She’s directed a handful of films. I mean, she’s Norwegian, but at least she’s a woman. That’s close enough.
And Norway in Spanish is Noruega. Noruega… Noriega… Escobar. Yeah, that’ll work.
Now who to cast in the lead role of The Godmother (La Madrina)… let’s see. She has to be known, she has to be tough, she has to be relatable to women, she has to have the acting chops (in that order).
How about an Academy Award winner? How about someone who has played Latinas in three films (The Mask of Zorro, Traffic and The Legend of Zorro— incidentally for characters named Elena or Helena)?
I got it! Let’s get Catherine Zeta-Jones.
She’s perfect. The dark Latin (yet safely not African nor American indigenous) looks are mainstream enough for an American audience (which is mostly Latino anyway).
Zeta… that’s the letter Z in Spanish, right? Equis, Greek I, Zeta.
And she’s not American. She’s foreign-ish. That’ll ensure a Golden Globe nomination.
Yes, Catherine Zeta-Jones is from the Hispanic nation of Cymru. Cymru? You know Cymru. Maybe you know it by its English name of Wales.
Raise your hand if you can find Wales on a map. (I can, but I am a bit of a geography geek.) Wales is next to England. It is part of the United Kingdom and birthplace of Anthony Hopkins. (Who knew Hannibal Lecter was Latino?)
Zeta-Jones is a clearly talented actress-singer-dancer, winning a Tony for A Little Night Music and an Oscar for playing Velma Kelly in the movie musical Chicago (incidentally, the other lead female role, Roxie Hart, is being played, at this writing, by the Latina actress-singer-dancer Bianca Marroquín).
Will she tap into the “volatile” Celtic temper she possesses in order to nail the Latina temperament, such as she had when she played Elena? (Or was it Helena?)
Will she nail that Medellín paisa accent that is quite distinct from the accents of Bogotá, Barranquilla or San Andrés y Providencia? (The accents are as distinct as say, Californian vs. New Englander vs. Deep Southerner. Or as different as say, English vs. Irish, or even Welsh.)
Will she breathe new life into the tired stereotype of the Colombian head of a cartel, an image that has been around since Hollywood discovered cocaine (and claimed it as its very own)?
Most importantly, will Zeta-Jones look sexy and desirable in the role. which is a requisite for a Hollywood major motion picture?
It’s refreshing to know that in 2014 Hollywood’s most bankable Latina actress is neither Jennifer López, nor Zoë Saldaña nor Cameron Díaz nor Salma Hayek nor Michelle Rodríguez nor even Jessica Alba?
Hollywood’s most bankable Latina actress is Catherine Zeta-Jones.
(The only problem is she’s not even remotely Latina.)