Home Country: Mexico
Languages: Spanish, English and some French
Why She's On Our Radar: Stephanie Sigman seemingly came out of nowhere to land the demanding lead role in Gerardo Naranjo's "Miss Bala," playing in the Un Certain Regard section. In the film, Sigman plays Laura Guerrero, a young woman from a simple background in the suburbs of Tijuana who dreams of becoming a beauty queen. While attending a party with her close friend, fate intervenes when gangsters sneak into the well-guarded event and go on a killing spree. Worried about the fate of her friend, she asks the police for help. The cop she goes to, however, is in cahoots with the gangsters and turn her over. The leader, Lino (Noe Hernandez) takes a shine to her, though his 'mercy' is not without peril. Embedded into the crime family, she finds herself obligated to perform heists and anything else demanded of her. At every turn, with the gangsters and the police, she's forced to pick the lesser of two evils.
If this film is any indication, people in Mexico and beyond, will be seeing a lot more of Sigman.
indieWIRE Asks: How did you get the role of Laura Guerrero?
Gerardo saw my picture and he was thinking of me for the character. He gave me the script and I loved it and then there was a long casting process.
What attracted you to the role?
What attracted me was the story but mostly, I fell in love with the character. She's so fragile and at the same time so strong. I think she realizes these [traits] over the course of events. I didn't think she knew how strong she was and that's what I liked. I also liked that she's so innocent about a lot of things and that was in part what was so great about her. It was a challenge with the amount of emotion and action required with Laura Guerrero.
What sort of preparation did you do to shape the character of Laura?
I read a lot of books about what is happening in Mexico. It was all tough to read and not so nice to hear about what's going on in Mexico. I also saw many films and interviews about the subject. Gerardo also had me watch films in which the lead is a strong woman and I really just talked with him which was really crucial.
Was there any intimidation on your part to take on such a heavy role, especially since it's so early in your acting career?
I talked with Gerardo a lot about this. I was scared with some of the scenes going in, but ultimately, I trusted Gerardo with the whole process. I just decided to give myself to the role.
Were you fearful about tackling such subject matter?
No, I wouldn't say there was fear. We know it's a difficult subject to talk about, but the way the movie is done is from a good angle. We're not trying to pass judgement or make light of anything. There's only good intention. But of course with a movie that deals with a drug/crime theme, people may say, 'Oh, another one of these movies' – I don't see it that way, but some people may say that when they hear about what the film is generally about. But as far as fear, I wasn't so scared.
I was so impressed with the complexity you brought to Laura. She's on the one hand brave and strong. On the other, she's a victim in this situation, having to choose the lesser of two evils in any given situation. Am I describing her situation correctly?
She doesn't have much of a choice. I think what I like most about the movie, is that it doesn't pass a direct judgment – not about good or bad guys… It focuses on the situation. It [describes] what is happening.
How do you feel this story is important right now?
It's important because of everything that's happening unfortunately in Mexico. It's important because we can use films and art to express what is happening around all of us. It's happening around me. It's certainly not that I like it, but it's there.
Somehow I think that if we can express it, then it draws attention to the situation and maybe it can be an [agent] of change. It helps create a consciousness in people. Of course I knew about the situation before doing this film, but it created more of a consciousness about what is happening and it made me more curious to learn about it.
The film is going to be controversial in Mexico, but I think it's something that will be good both in Mexico and hopefully the U.S.
What sort of roles are you looking to do in the future?
In the future, I'd like to do something different. I love action of course. But I think when you read a script, you can just feel it. I don't have that much experience yet, so I don't completely know how I'll know what feels right, but I [suspect] I'll feel it. I want to do a lot of different characters – definitely not always the same kind of character. I love that life provides so many choices and I want to be able to experience that.
My English used to be better [laughs]. I want to continue working in Mexico, but I'd also like to work in other countries eventually too. Working behind the camera is interesting for me too. I admit I don't know a lot about it still [laughs] but I'm still young so I have a lot to learn.