"They Call Me La Lupe," originally a play, with the help of acclaimed Puerto Rican actress, Lauren Velez, has generated enough money on Kickstarter.com to begin film production. Most notable for her role on Showtime’s Emmy award-winning series, Dexter, she has become the first Hispanic celebrity to raise over $100,000 on the website for creative projects. Finally she will get to fulfill her dream of portraying La Lupe, the Cuban singer, who was a dynamic inspiration to Velez as a child.
Lauren on her accomplishment with Kickstarter.com
Someone is always going to be the first, but I just hope that it’s the beginning of something bigger. We need the Latino community continuing to support Latino projects. Kickstarter.com empowers people to support something they believe in. They give the community an opportunity to really show up, and put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
With an already demanding career how did she reach her goal?
My nature is if you give me a challenge, I’m just going to take it on. Kickstarter is really a full-time job. Juggling the finish to Dexter's seventh season, currently airing on Sundays on Showtime, was intense. It seemed almost impossible initially to raise that kind of money in such a short amount of time. But with the help of executive producer Lee Hernandez, and Dexter creator James Manos Jr., the mark of $100,000 to create the movie was hit Oct. 26th. Also several key investors, helped jump-start the campaign when they were willing to match donations made by the public. It is really, really kind of fascinating, because I feel like the Latin voice is starting to collect.
La Lupe, was a famous Cuban singer whose strong personality caused Cuba's leader Fidel Castro to exile her to the United States. How did Lupe impact Velez?
When I was a kid, I heard her music, and I remember being really struck by the sound of her voice and how it made me feel, I felt immediately connected to her. About 10 years ago, I started actively working on trying to bring her story to life, and it started out as a one-woman show, and I got together with James Manos Jr. and he wrote the screen play. Since then, we've been working on it to make a film.
With all her hard work in bringing La Lupe's story to life, Lauren has plenty to look forward to
I’m fulfilling a dream! It’s just an incredible opportunity to play this character, who’s unlike anybody you’ve ever seen, Latina or not. She’s just an extraordinary character to portray. I can’t wait to start living her! She is a mini hurricane. Misunderstood, uncompromising, and unwilling to play by anyone else’s rules. A black Latina in the ‘60s and ‘70s, made La Lupe, a world of trouble because she was in the right place at the wrong time…so ahead of her time.
On going indie
While it would be nice to get the multi-million dollar contracts from some studio to get made, my feeling is that isn’t how it’s going to happen. Shooting guerrilla style, I have an excitement I haven't felt in a long time about making a film.
Currently, in the pre-production stage, what are Lauren's final aspirations?
I hope people love the film, and I hope that they love the character and get to know her the same way I do.
The film is her only focus right now, as season eight of Dexter does not begin shooting until January. She is also looking forward to being home in Spanish Harlem once Dexter is finally done shooting. Velez emphasized her thanks to all who supported “They Call Me La Lupe,” saying she was overwhelmed with the support, and calling the entire process “extraordinary, beautiful, and touching.”