By/Por Juan Rodríguez Flores, Executive Editor LWR
Born and raised in a small town in South Texas, Arlene Santana is a Mexican-American actress and television host. Arlene graduated with a Theatre Arts degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX. She has held true to her theater roots performing in productions such as the Los Angeles Premier of Edwin Sanchez’s “Unmerciful Good Fortune” directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera. Arlene played the lead character, Maritza Cruz. She also starred opposite Patrick J. Adams in the LA Premier of Bill Cain’s “Nine Circles.” She portrays three different characters in the war drama based on actual events. Her acting credits also extend to film and television. She has a recurring role on the hit ABC show “Grey’s Anatomy”. She was seen in last year’s summer blockbuster “Fast 5”, and recently wrapped the indie film “God’s Country” produced by Cecil’s Chambers Triumphant Pictures.
“God’s Country” is going to be release nationwide the last week of February in selected theatres.
1.- How did you get involved in a spiritual movie like “God’s Country” ?
I heard about the project and was able to get an audition. A couple of hours after I met with the director and producer I got a call that I had gotten the part. I was very excited.
2.- Who do you play in the story of “God’s Country”?
I play Valentina, Megan’s best friend. Valentina can see how much damage Megan is causing her relationships with her family and friends by being so consumed with her work and success.
3.- How is your relationship (in the movie) with Megan ?
Other than Megan’s mother, Valentina is probably the most worried about Megan. She pushes to try and find her when Megan goes missing. She’s afraid something terrible has happened to her.
4.- What kind of specific recommendations did you receive from the director of “God’s Country” in order to play your character in the movie ?
Valentina is someone who always seems to be fabulous even when she’s not trying to be fabulous. She is constantly adorned with the most amazing clothes and jewels, but she is also someone who really cares about her family and friends so it was important to the director and the producers to find a good balance between those two worlds. She needed to be someone who could walk in a room and demand all of the attention, but also someone who was very humble and real.
5.- Did the director of “God’s Country” give you complete freedom to create the human dimension and the personality of your character?
Yes. It’s always important to have a strong director with a strong vision, as well as someone who gives the actors breathing room to create the character they will be portraying. Chris was definitely that. He was very actor friendly.
6.- Do you have any idea how the public is going to receive a movie like this ?
I think people will connect with the story no matter where they fall in the religious spectrum. We live in a world where people judge you based on your successes. This story helps bring things back into prospective. Everyone knows someone who has lost their way and that makes this story universal.
7.- How do you see the future of the Latino actors in Hollywood ?
We have so many great Latino actors working on stage and in TV and film right now. But that being said we need more of them. We need more TV shows with Latinos. We need more films that showcase the Latino world. We need more Latinos in front and behind the camera. We’ll get there.
8.- Do you think the film industry is ready to open the doors for more Latinos to be in front and behind the camera?
Hollywood needs to open those doors. If not, we are going to barge in. Latinos are the fastest growing minority in this country. We want to see more people who we can identify with on camera. It’s time for that.
9.- Which do you prefer working in theatre, TV, or movies ?
I started doing theatre when I was very little, doing church and schools plays. The first real play I did was called: “The Three Wee Kings.” I played one of the kings. I fell in love with the stage immediately. It will always be my first love but I have so much fun doing TV and film too. It’s great to go on location, work with new people, and get out of your comfort zone.
10.- What recommendation can you give young Latinas who want to work in Hollywood?
I would say the most important thing would be to know who you are. Decide what kind of actress you want to be. What you want to do and don’t want to do. It’s hard to say no to things in the beginning of your career because you just want to work, but it’s good to say no sometimes. Especially if it might type cast you later.
11.- Who is your favorite Latina actress who is working right now in Hollywood?
I would have to say Salma Hayek. Not only is she a great actress, but a producer too. She creates projects that are important to her. Frida is one of my favorite movies.
12.- How do you feel being a role model for young Latina actresses?
I think it’s a great thing. I hope I can help young Latina actresses follow their dreams by setting a good example.