“Don’t be scared to screw things up”. There is a lot of fear in the industry, that if you screw things up you will get blacklisted and don’t be called again. Why? Aren’t we all in the same learning process called life? If we screw up, what’s the deal, try again! So, I would’ve loved for someone to tell me, don’t be scared to mess things up, it is necessary, and it is natural to humans. Thank you, Julia Cameron, for letting me know. I stopped doing things for fear of being rejected or being bad at something and now reading The Artists Way I realized that all those rejections would’ve made me stronger if I had recovered from them instead of suppressing them.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alejandra Camacho.
Alejandra Camacho, a career-driven, and successful actress and belly dancer born and raised in Mexico, but with heart in the film industry in the city of Angels and New York. She recently starred in the comedic film “Served” coming up this year. Her most recent feature film Linea de Sangre, just won for Best Action feature film at the Action in Film Festival in New York City. She is also a 1st place Belly dance winner, a traveler and a language enthusiast. She is a promising talent breaking barriers in Hollywood. We can’t wait to see what she is doing next.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for the opportunity and inviting me to share my story with you. I am from this little town called Metepec in Mexico, approximately one hour away from the city. It is super colorful surrounded by gorgeous volcanos. Fun fact is that to be a Mexican town we only get approximately 2 weeks of heat during summer, if we’re lucky, after that we get 4 seasons throughout the day including heavy rains, hail and sometimes very strong gales until fall starts. I grew up with my mom, dad and brother who although he is almost 5 years older than me, we got along great. We used to play and pretend to be the gummi bears as children, so as you can see, storytelling was already in my childhood. We were surrounded by friends who we always played with in the same neighborhood. I also have a lot of cousins around the same age, so when we were little our parents used to take us to go bike riding, horse riding, play baseball, etc. I miss those times. I am very fortunate that I grew up in a very happy household and had always someone to play with. I studied a BA in Communication and Media with a minor in Theatre in Mexico City and 6 months in England at the Universidad Iberoamericana. When I graduated, I dedicated the next couple of years to dance and acting until I turned 25 and decided to move to Los Angeles and study an acting career. After a year, I transferred to the NY campus to live the New York experience, fell in love with the city and stayed 4 years, until the winter kicked me out back to Los Angeles. I love New York, hope the winter was shorter.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
After I finished elementary school and started high school, I felt like this kid who didn’t fit in and was in her own world, so I started to feel intrigued by the arts, specifically acting. I also think this interest arose from watching soap operas in Mexico. I wondered what it would be like to be able to convery all these feelings of an unreal story. I remembered I used to make my best friend and cousin film short scenes from soap operas with me quite a few times. So, I asked my mom, if I could take drama classes because I wanted to learn. However, I was very clear that the soap opera style was definitely not the style of acting I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn more the realistic and naturalistic one, the one we see in film, even though I started in theatre. Once in my drama classes, I realized that I fitted in this universe, among all these kids who I shared interests with, so I started learning dance and singing and other acting techniques as well. I felt very accomplished. I had so much fun during rehearsals, improvising characters and creating stories so I thought, if people do this as a living, I want to do it for the rest of my life and get paid for it as well. I never imagined myself sitting at a desk or doing some other kind of day job if it wasn’t creating something.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I had just started acting and I used to do theatre in my town, a group of teenagers from the same high school who I later became friends with, invited me to join a theatre company they had created called “Teatro del Misterio”. The artistic director of this company used to adapt Agatha Christie’s plays to a sort of Mexican comedy of situations and in one of the adaptations of The Mousetrap, his aunt, Adriana Barraza, had come to watch the show. His aunt was also from the same town. My dad said hi to her because they had studied together in college. She had been a soap opera actress for several years, so we knew who she was, and I didn’t know my dad knew her personally and that she was related to my friend. She saw the show and later she shared with us that she was about to start a project starring Brad Pitt. I am pretty sure that by now, you can tell what movie I am talking about. Later, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in that movie. The fact that she watched the show and talked to my family about it was amazing. I couldn’t believe that we talked to her, my dad knew her and is my friend’s aunt. My friend never said anything, but it has been the most interesting story that has ever happened to me. Also, because where I am from the chances that an Academy Award nominated actress sees your performance and chats with you about it are scarce. Seriously, you never know who you might encounter.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
For sure there are probably more than one, but I think most of them have to do with coffee. I am very sensitive to caffeine, and I didn’t know. I didn’t used to like the flavor of just black coffee, only when it was mixed with something else like milk and sugar. So, I used to drink lattes because of the flavor not because it wakes me up or gives me energy or anything alike. Hard to believe, I didn’t even know how lattes were made, I knew they had milk and coffee but that’s it, I wasn’t completely aware that It contained espresso. So, one day I bought myself a latte and I had to perform a monologue in a class. So, I went up in front of the class, started my monologue and suddenly I started shaking, forgetting my lines and hyperventilating, I couldn’t continue because I felt I was going to pass out. Thank God it was only a class. Later, I found out that it is coffee that makes me feel like that, and that day it had provoked me an anxiety attack in the middle of my monologue. It makes me very nervous and it also makes me feel like something very bad is going to happen. Coffee has provoked me a few anxiety attacks in the least convenient moments. So, I learned that If I am going to do something very important that requires my full commitment, calm and attention, like auditioning, I MUST avoid coffee that day. Fun fact, I have now learned to like black coffee so I drink it even without sugar, not without an empty stomach of course or I drink decaf.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The projects that have changed my life and have been the most exciting ones. One, it is a film I am very proud to have been part of; I had a role that will never forget, it is called “Stars, Planets and then there’s Jane”. I played Jane, a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome. It was produced by an entire female crew. When I did the research It completely opened my perspective about autism and Asperger’s and how prejudice makes socializing very difficult for the ones who suffer from it and the families as well. The fact that this female crew produced a film that won Best Film and Best Screenplay was extremely rewarding. Second, the movie I had the amazing opportunity to be in “Linea de Sangre” just won for Best Action Film in New York, and the cast and crew was mostly BIPOC. The energy in this production was so supportive that I felt like home when we were shooting. This made the film shoot very comfortable given the fact that when we shot it, we were going through difficult times due to the hurricane Maria that had just hit Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico that had just taken hundreds of lives. Most people in the crew were from PR and I am from Mexico. It felt very dark during these days and everybody was so loving, and we supported each other going through the tough scenes that the film required to move the story forward. Interesting fact, one of the scenes is a funeral, and the picture we used for it belonged to a relative of one of our crew members that was actually disappeared in PR because of the hurricane. Nobody could get hold of her because all telephone lines and internet were down. Thank God she was alright, and she was finally located.
Right now, I am collaborating with creatives about writing a web series. I can’t talk about it too much, but it is going to be full of surprises and diversity. I am also developing a Belly dance work out program, you can find a new lesson per week on my YouTube channel. You will have so much fun burning those calories and dancing.
And lastly but not least, I am really happy because we are expecting a comedic film that I was so lucky to star in called “Served”, it is still in post-production, but it is going to be out soon. We had so much fun and this project is very dear to me because we did it during pandemic when everything seemed like falling apart. It gave me life in times of darkness.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
It is not only super important, but also essential to the industry. We have watched for decades stories with predominantly male and white actors on screen. While we don’t see stories from minorities being told, we are not going to know these exist, so my question is, how are we going to become a better society if we are not aware of these stories? When we see every kind of people reflected on screen and their issues being told, we become totally awake and empathetic about these problems that exist in our communities, we can do something to fix these issues, but we don’t even realize they exist until they are produced. For example, VIDA on Starz, or Gentefied on Netflix. We see that low-income Latino families, that are people like everybody else with nuances and feelings, good days and bad days are being displaced by huge corporations. Roma, it is another great example. When was it going to be exposed the issue that domestic workers had been in the shadows for so long if it wasn’t for this movie? The fact that they are also care givers and enablers of love. They have worked and continue working for a lifetime with the same family without even being compensated enough. They give 20–30 years of service to a family that can get rid of them when they don’t need them anymore. True fact, they can’t function without them. And this story was possible by the mind and pen of a Mexican writer. After this movie was released a lot of organizations and associations became more visible to give care givers what they deserve for years of servitude such as the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Families became aware of the problematic and lack of support to them as well. We need these stories to fix and stop exploitation, violence, human trafficking; the list is endless.
Every single person needs to see themselves reflected on screen. We need to see stories that confront us as individuals and as a society. And also knowing we are capable of doing amazing things. We need to see more Native Americans, Asians, Latino and Black characters. And what is essential too is that we not only need minorities on screen, but we also need them as decision makers, showrunners, writers, directors, creators as a majority, not only a few. Because they are able to decide what is going to be produced. They come with real stories without stereotypes and clichés.
For years, we have barely seen minorities on screen and when we do, we see the same spicy, over sexualized Latino women or the same male drug dealers on screen, and I am pretty sure a Latino was not at the production table or maybe just one. Latinos come in all colors and sizes; we are not all the same. I am a very light skinned Latina with an accent, I either see only brown people with accents playing maids or spicy and curvy oversexualized characters. Of course, we need these stories, but real ones and we also need more than that. We need to make everybody visible because we are full of diversity and we all watch entertainment.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
One, I think it is “Get prepared” there is a lot of competition out there that if you don’t have the preparation to compete you will get behind. Practice, practice as much as you can because this will give you experience and confidence in yourself. Now, for example I wish I had continued my singing lessons, because I used to sing, but I quit, and that same technique would’ve helped me for my voice projection in theatre. I had to relearn it. And also, because I would have loved to be a singer.
Second, “Don’t be scared to screw things up”. There is a lot of fear in the industry, that if you screw things up you will get blacklisted and don’t be called again. Why? Aren’t we all in the same learning process called life? If we screw up, what’s the deal, try again! So, I would’ve loved for someone to tell me, don’t be scared to mess things up, it is necessary, and it is natural to humans. Thank you, Julia Cameron, for letting me know. I stopped doing things for fear of being rejected or being bad at something and now reading The Artists Way I realized that all those rejections would’ve made me stronger if I had recovered from them instead of suppressing them.
Third, “Don’t get too sunburnt” or “Ignore other people’s opinions about you”, haha. I was very pale as a kid. My friends used to call me Casper and “Lechita” that means little milk in Spanish. So, I wanted to have this suntan to stop being so pale, so I took too many sunbaths and now I’m seeing the consequences on my skin. Please, take care of the sun y’all and accept yourself as how you came into this world. There is nothing more perfect than your bare self. Don’t try to fit the mold, it is pointless!
Fourth, “Invest”. Listen, time passes by so quickly that we need to learn about finances and multiply our money. I wish I learned more about this when I was younger, right now I would see benefits from having started a progressive passive income back then. I am now learning about this and I am like, damn, why didn’t I start sooner? I wish schools gave you a different approach about finances and economy in a fun way. We would be wiser in this matter and less stressed out about paying our bills.
Fifth, “Try new things even if you’re terrible at them” I got to the conclusion that practicing something you’re really bad at, gets you out of your head and makes you take things not too seriously; brings your inner child out and makes you discover things about yourself you didn’t know. It also teaches you humility. We tend to only do things we’re trying to be good at, succeed at, win a prize or money, but how often do we do things we’re terrible at just for the sake of doing it? I think we should do It often. I started drawing and painting again, I do it for myself, to relax and not to think about all these crazy jobs with deadlines. I know I am not great, but it is so revitalizing.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say, rest and do less more often. Sometimes we get so hooked up in the work and the goal we are pursuing to meet that we forget to give ourselves credit even if we haven’t gotten what we want in spite of all the effort we put in. We deserve to treat ourselves for it, taking those vacations even if we don’t go anywhere; taking days off to completely recharge and start again. We deserve it.
Also, I’ve found myself being more productive when I set a goal and I work at least 10–30 minutes every day rather than getting overwhelmed by doing it every day for 5 hours or even an entire day. I have also found out that gratitude is the light to the rejection actors face every single day. It will open doors for you 100%, just by shifting that mind set to being grateful. We all can be grateful for something even in our darkest times.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Poverty in my country is 41% of the population, almost half of it, that’s why a lot of communities and families don’t have access to a good education system. I think that, as a society if we got involved in education and created organizations that focused in giving classes for free to teach subjects we are great at, education would be more accessible, because we would all get involved in teaching what we do best. It should be a team effort. Crime and corruption make this sometimes very difficult because the government is far more interested in keeping their population ignorant than well educated, but I think there is a way to start if we all volunteered to teach. This way all communities would be helped out. We need to get somehow involved as a society to help out our closest communities and the people in need. Baby steps matter even if they’re baby. So, that would be my movement, to suggest creating a web platform where we all have to accomplish certain hours weekly, teaching what we are passionate at to people that want to learn, all for free. We all have at least 1 hour of our time to help others, and we all have different areas of expertise, right? Not all communities have access to internet, so it would require a little bit of traveling from the people in the communities and ourselves. A lot to think about but I think I like that idea.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This list in endless, I am super grateful for the friendships I’ve made that have recommended me for amazing job opportunities and have been so supporting no matter what. The producers and directors that have trusted my talent and believed I have something extraordinary to give to this country. But I think my mom, dad and brother, they have always supported me, in the good and the bad.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There is a quote I read before moving to the US, that says “Growth must come from roots” I can’t remember who it is from. It reminds me that it doesn’t matter where we go and who we become, our past and the people who were there from the beginning will always remind us who we are. It makes me think of my family, friends and my beloved Mexico. If we are strong and believe in ourselves it doesn’t matter what’s going on around us, our essence is still going to be there. Change comes from within, no one else has the power to do that but ourselves. When I feel mad at something and it is hard to understand why, I try to look at myself first and change my perspective. It is not an easy job but is worth it. This quote has so many different meanings however you look at it. I also like this one from Goethe “Action has magic, grace, and power in it” it doesn’t need much explanation.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a private lunch with Tanya Saracho, VIDA’s showrunner. I started reading her plays when I was still living in New York and met her work by accident thanks to a friend who took me to watch one of her plays to Second Stage, a well renowned theatre in New York City. My friend bought the wrong tickets, she meant to take me to see another play to the Second Stage location in Time Square and we went to the one in the Upper West Side where they were running “Mala Hierba”. When I saw this play, I thought it had been the most pertinent accident ever. I felt that I needed to see her work somehow because I have a lot in common with the characters and subjects she writes about, and those are the kind of stories I want to tell. I realized the roles I had been given in school were so limited until I met Tanya’s work. After that I went down to the Drama bookstore, the one in 40th street back then and bought “Fade”. The fact that she went from being a playwright to a showrunner is extremely admiring. I would love to learn so much from her and work with her one day, even if I start bringing her coffee while she produces. Haha. I would love to dig into her mind and chat about her experience.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can reach out to me through:
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!