As we wind down 2012 we look forward to the new year and the talent we are sure will be creating a buzz and in 2013.  We give you the  first  selected talent of the Latin Heat WATCH List!

From Hip Hop to the Silver Screen

By Bel Hernandez

Yahira Garcia, known in 2004 as Flakiss, was the undisputed queen of the emerging Latin Hip Hop scene on the west coast.  After recording three albums she become disillusioned with the business deciding, rather than being exploited, she would leave it all behind.  But it seems her fans never left her.   In fact one of those fans, director David Ayer (Training Day) searched for her and cast her in his hit film End of Watch which released earlier this year to rave reviews, luring her back to where she belongs – in the limelight.

Garcia, auditioned and was cast on the spot in the role of  La La, a homegirl who grew gangbanging in South Central L.A., where in real life both Garcia and Ayer also grew up.  “I wrote this role for you,” he told her at the audition,  “My wife and I are your number one fans, and we’ve both been wondering where you’ve been.”

Garcia had been surviving.  After walking away from her hip-hop passion, she began working with “Oldies But Goodies” DJ legend Art Laboe.  “He said he loved my personality and he gave me a position on the morning show,” Garcia explains.  “He’s amazing — he’s been on the radio for 60 years!”

Garcia’s experience with her former management and record label had left her depressed and very cautious.  “I hadn’t being given the support I needed. I trusted my music producers and they did not look after me.”   However, Garcia believes adversity only makes you stronger.  She never stopped writing lyrics.  During the End of Watch shoot Ayer encouraged her, “You can’t be done with your music.  You have to come back.”  Ayer and Garcia even talked about including one of her songs in End of Watch, but there wasn’t enough time.

Flakiss’ First Album Liberate

“I was fortunate and honored to work with David Ayer who is an amazing director and writer,” Garcia told us.  “Film is a new experience for me and I loved it, but I’m also still a rapper.”   During our interview, Garcia announced she had decided to return to her music.  She  informed us she would be recording and shooting a music video the following week.  Her music fans will be glad to  hear of her decision.

” I am very blessed now. I am surrounded with people who really believe in me, Garcia explained.  “But, I’m better mostly because I’ve learned from my past experiences and also am not as trustful as I used to be.”

Garcia’s music spoke to countless young women about empowerment and standing up to machismo.  She rapped about her dreams, her life, and inspired other Latinas to do the same.  Unlike other young women, she pursued her career in music with no Latina Hip Hop artist she could identify with.  When she started her female role models were Missy Elliot and The Brat. “There was no Latina I could identify with, everyone was black,” Garcia tells us.  “I listened to Tupac, Biggie, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube all of them.  I love rap!”  Garcia hopes is that her music and film career will make it easier for other Latinas to realize that they can do anything they set their minds to.

Maurice Compte and Yahira “Flakiss” Garcia

During the filming of End of Watch she worked closely with actor Maurice Compte who portrayed “Big Evil” and her partner in crime. “He was very helpful during the shoot, always looking out for me,” she related.

Compte was also helpful off the set.  He spoke to his agent about Garcia, about how she got the job, and her music and his agent, not only signed her, but has kept her busy taking meetings with directors and reading scripts.  In addition to already being asked by Ayer to be in his next film, Garcia has booked her next film. This coming January, she will begin shooting The Devils Ink for writer/director Devon Downs.  She joins a cast that includes Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte, Zoe Bell (Inglorious Bastards, Kill Bill 1 & 2) and Yvette Yates (Without Men, El Gringo).

Not bad for a former homegirl from South Central L.A. Her life story is one that many young Latinas living in at at-risk communities can relate to. But she has been able to turn her life around and through her music, and now film career, become a bona fide role model to them. She is empowering young Latinas through her work. Garcia survived by her wits and God given talent, learned the ropes of the music industry, the good and the bad of it… survived yet again and is now shining the silver screen.

Yahira Garcia aka Flakiss is here to stay with an exciting film career to evolve her into stardom.