I want to say how amazing it was to talk to such an amazing, ambitious and spirited woman. Katherine Castro a beautiful actress, native to the Dominican Republic chat’s with me about her journey to the states, realizing her dreams as a multiple talented artist, and her upcoming film, Pulse of Indigo. The Pulse of Indigo premiere this Friday, July 20th in Los Angeles and will be released internationally in the Dominican Republic on August 1st at Carribean Cinemas, Fine Arts Novo-Centro in Santo Domingo. In the mean time hear what Katherine has to say about being an actress and her upcoming movie.
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How long have you’ve been an actor and how did you get your start as an actor?
KATHERINE CASTRO: I’m from the Dominican Republic and I got my start as a kid there. Like all kids, I started making shows for my parents at their house parties. I did little one-woman shows, played the piano, and did some monologues. I was always creating and it just became a natural transition for me into school plays in the Dominican Republic. I lived in the United States for awhile. When I lived here in the States I got involved in dancing, ballet, jazz, and gymnastics. That was some of my first times being on stage in front of a live audience. Then I went back to the Dominican Republic, we were in the states because my Dad was in the military and he was working at the Dominican Embassy in Washington D.C. When his time was up we went back and I knew then that dancing and acting was something that I wanted to continue to explore. I was the happiest when I was doing that.
When I was 15 years old is when I started doing it officially as a job. I became a working actress in the Dominican Republic. I enrolled in acting classes, I started doing commercial work. Which is the same process that people do here in the U.S. and I did some TV series and then I went on to host some TV shows. So at the same time when I was acting I was also working as a TV host doing little documentaries, entertainment segments, and variety shows. Then I stopped acting for a while and went on to get my degree in journalism. Back then in Dominican Republic the industry wasn’t very developed so there wasn’t much going on. So there was a transition period where I was not acting and creating. I really felt empty to be honest with you. So I got my creative juices flowing by writing. I’ve always written poetry, and little stories, since I was a kid. One day I said “I can’t take this anymore, I have to go back and do what I love. I’m going to take a shot and I am going to move to LA.”
I moved to Los Angeles and started looking up rent, what I was going to do and where I was going to live. I did a lot of research and I came to LA without knowing anyone. It was a huge, huge change for me! Being from the Dominican Republic and not knowing, even though I speak English pretty well it’s still not my first language, so there was still this communication barrier. Driving here also was also an adjustment but I found this school called The New York Film Academy in Studio City. I enrolled first in a 3-month program just to see what it was all about. They had improv class, they had scene study, on-camera, and cold-reading. It was just so exciting and we actually got to shoot some short scenes in the back-lot of Universal Studios. It was a very intense 3 months and then afterward I went back to the Dominican Republic and I decided that acting and film-making is what I wanted to do. So I left everything and I moved to Los Angeles and that is where I am today.
Did you have any struggles trying to make it in Los Angeles as an actress?
CASTRO:I absolutely struggled! Again I had a lot obstacles, a lot of things working against me. Number one, I’m not American! I could not work because it would be illegal. I had to put so many things in order paperwork wise. Being from another country, speaking another language, not knowing anybody, and being completely by myself and having all my family in the Dominican Republic was defiantly difficult. Especially since I am very close with my family, my brothers, but mostly my mother. I had a time period where I could not leave the States because of my legal status, so I could not work and I could not travel until my paper-work was in order. All I could do is use the time to prepare myself by taking scene study classes, singing and dance classes and do a lot of student projects and do a lot of stuff for free. I got a lot of experience behind the camera from the production side of how things worked. I wrote a lot and got involved in a group that we created called “Play Shop,” where we would film ourselves. I did a lot of stuff like that and we would exchange roles. Like one week I would be in charge of bringing food to the set. I was also pretty much involved in the production side of it and creating the product and what everyone wanted to do and how they wanted to be seen. It really got me excited and I became empowered because I saw that I could create what I wanted to do. I learned also how to edit scenes. I took some singing and performing classes from Carole D’Andrea, she was from the original cast of West-side Story, the original Broadway play. The whole time where I couldn’t legally work, I was pretty much involved in preparing and educating myself in all aspects of acting and film-making. I did a lot of extra work as well, which was a lot of fun and learned a lot from that.
When I was legal to work I went back to the Dominican Republic and shot a couple of films there. I came back and filmed a short called Subject 7. Then I got cast in The Hollywood Zone. Then everything started falling all into order, one after the other. I did a movie called Silent Cry, where i was cast as a Iranian ex-prisoner. It was based on the true story of the Iranian massacre of 1986. She is a survivor of the massacre and she telling her story of what happened. This story is based on the true lives of the director, his wife and other fugitives.
I feel like once you get your creative juices flowing, and you continue preparing yourself, and you continue creating , I think all start to fall into place. The people that are in your same group and that have your same passion and you start creating together. I think that’s the beauty of it because you start growing and helping one another succeed. You become part of a artistic community and I think it just really exciting. I love a mental and physical challenge and that’s where the dancing and the marital arts aspect come into play. I am so happy and so blessed that I am doing what I love to do. I am like a kid living out her dream.
When I first got here I immediately looked up where and who I wanted to study with. After working with the New York Film Academy, I felt like that wasn’t enough and that’s when I found Aaron Speiser. Who is an amazing acting couch. When I went to audit his class I was so touched and so moved by what he was teaching. There was this one actor and amazing actor Keith Washington, who is now a good friend of mine. He was doing a monologue and Aaron came in and gave him a critique and an adjustment. I saw that the scene came to life and I remember how I felt that day and how I had goosebumps all over. I thought god, if this man can do this with this actor, I wonder what he can do to me. Sure enough, I enrolled and been taking scene study classes with him ever since. I’ve taken other courses with other teachers but he is always the one I go back to. He just makes me feel that I am doing the right thing. It’s an amazing how you can just transform yourself and that you can create something, a new life.
So your in a film that’s coming out on July 20th, called The Pulse of Indigo. I want you to tell me a little bit about the movie and the role that you play?
CASTRO: She is a stripper but that’s not really who she is and I know some people say that what I do doesn’t define me but this really fits her description. In Pulse of the Indigo, Isabella is really a poet because she really is a writer that has been writing since she was a child. This is what drives her, this is her passion. She only strips to pay the bills. She actually comes from a wealthy family but her Dad is the head of the Mexican mafia, he is a drug lord. Isabella’s mom got killed when she was a child because of her dad’s job. So she has been estranged from her father from a very young age. She grew up with her Grandparents and Isabella strips not only to pay the bills but to go against her Father. Almost to say, “I don’t need you. You don’t like what Ii do, well I don’t like what you do either, so suck it up.” Also she likes dancing and getting the attention but really at heart what she always wanted to do was to publish her poems. I can totally relate to that, she has a little bit of me in her, I guess. I connected with her on that level and I also connected with her on the level of being estranged from her dad for awhile. Then again she is just a girl following her dream and very much wanting to have a reconnection with her father. He really is the only thing she has left. Her mother is dead, her grandparents get killed by the Russian mafia. So it’s really her dad and her against the world. I think we can all connect on the human level with that. We all just want to be loved and seek the approval from the ones we love. There is a really beautiful connection between her and her father when they reconnect.
The plot of the movie is these two crime families; the Russians and the Mexican drug mafia families are at war. They have a territorial war but beneath the lines there is actually a serial killer that connects all these two families. We don’t even realize that this serial killer is actually bringing these two families together. During the war, Isabella’s grandparents get killed which brings her dad and her closer together. We uncover one by one how each of the families who are struggling for territory, we see how they all get together in one room and uncover the true story and the true mastermind behind all the murders, which is the “Indigo Killer.” There is a lot of twists and turns. Two other people reconnect together as they went to school together and they fall in love. My dad and I also get together because of the Indigo killer. In the midst of this war and killings there is a love story and a reconnection between a father and a daughter.
What is next for Katherine Castro?
CASTRO: I’ve been cast in a movie in the Dominican Republic called 10 Subjects, which is going to be shot in Spanish and on location. Its’ about 10 strangers that get kidnapped and thrown into one room and one person can survive. We start to see humans true condition and the true colors of everyone. We start killing each other and turning against one another.
Next month in the Dominican Republic. we are also going to premier Pulse of the Indigo. Then, I’ll come back here and I’m going to Milwaukee to shoot a short film, which is going to be aired in a series of episodes on the web-series called Stripped. This movie can be compared to Requiem for Dream, just really dark ad pretty. Then I’m going back to Dominican Republic for a film festival where were going to premiere a movie that I shot last year. I have exciting summer and time for me and I look forward to every bit of it.