If there was a wonderful understated performance recently it belonged to Andrea Suarez Paz who has been nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award
at the prestigious 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards (that’s the one you can get drunk and drop F-Bombs to your hearts content). Her role
in the critically acclaimed “Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors” has Andrea nominated alongside Patricia Arquette, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and
Carmen Ejogo which is nothing less than incredibly impressive for a Mexican born, New York claimed actor. LatinoBuzz wants to be her homie.
What film or actress inspired you to act?
There was this amazing lady playing very interesting roles in telenovelas when I was growing up whom I definitely considered a genius. Her name is
Margarita Sanz and I was around 5 years old when I became her fan. All the older actresses in telenovelas blew my mind when I was a kid, they call them
“first actress” and they are the artists that have been performing in the theater for decades and then they get to be the evil stepmom or the psycho killer
in telenovelas. They did powerful work. My mom knew of my affinity for this and took me to see them live on stage whenever they visited our local theater.
I once saw one of these women play The Little Prince. To see an older woman play a little boy on stage completely blasted open my perception to what it
meant to act. That was it for me.
When you read the script for “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” what drew you to the character?
Well, it was an emotional roller coaster, which is what we as actors pray to get to do. It seemed like an insurmountable challenge – which I’m beginning to
learn is what truly sparks me- a fantastic challenge. I was also terribly moved. My son was 9 months at the time, so to picture him away from me was
immediately something I wanted to avoid. These were all very good signs that going head first onto this was going to be rough and terrifying. I like that
What kind research did you do for the role?
I read a lot on autism, which is surprisingly and annoyingly a huge mystery. There are all kinds of theories as to what causes it, if it might be
preventable, how to best treat it. It was very scary to find out that nobody knows for sure and there is not great research being done and the vast
majority of research is done privately. This infuriated me, which was a good start. I visited a support group for mothers of children in the spectrum a few
times and realized how challenging it is to have a child with special needs and I learned that you have to draw strength from thin air incessantly and keep
an unwavering state of deep focus.
I also learned that even though Autism can be frightening and terribly demanding, it also comes with its vast share of
superpowers that are unknown to the typical human. A different and astonishing type of mind with a magical glow. So, in the end I also became in love with
it and ended up with a healthy mix of emotions. Then I got to hang out with Jesus Sanchez (who plays Ricky in the movie) prior to filming which was a big
luxury and we talked a lot and swam in the ocean together and by the time we started shooting I was just so sincerely crazy about this kid who was so
smart, so deeply compassionate and had such impeccable morals that I just felt so fortunate to be partners with him. And he was such a fantastic actor! I
was a proud mother of my perfect boy by the end.
You are from Mexico, did you ever think that one day you would be living in the greatest city in the world and then one day nominated for an Independent
Spirit Award? Do you hope it would inspire that little girl in Monterrey, Mexico?
Well, I certainly dreamed about it. And I did at some point in my life begin to work my way here and I knew there were no guarantees. I do hope to inspire,
I mean I live off inspiration and its the force that keeps me working, that keeps me creating. its a wonderful feeling to be able to inspire back, to keep
that flow going. Being Latina in the US is something I’m still learning about everyday. I don’t feel inherently different in any way from anybody else and
It is a feeling I cherish and that has helped me avoid thinking of my ethnicity as a potential obstacle from what i want to achieve. I am a woman and I am
from Mexico, that is true. I am an artist, that is also true. When I work, I hope I’m not a woman from Mexico but an artist in body and spirit. I’m also a
New Yorker, by the way.
You used to play Punk Rock music. Five best Punk bands ever, GO!
Gang of Four
I also consider Neil Young and Bach to be big punks.
The dream role, co-star, director and what’s the storyline?
I would like to play a passionate revolutionary or an extremely happy person. I adore Sally Hawkins in “Happy Go Lucky.” I’m really dying to work with my
Mexican peeps: Gonzalez Iñárritu, Cuarón, Del Toro. Maybe I’m the badass lady who rids Mexico of drugs, of oppression and illiteracy.
Given what’s happening in Mexico and the world still stands idle, do you find art meaningless or even more meaningful? And how does it make you feel?
It makes me feel angry and ashamed and profoundly sad. My parents are big liberals and taught us to never trust a government that rids their people of
basic human rights. Growing up, my Mexican town of Monterrey was so safe, we wouldn’t lock our cars or our front doors, and that is gone. Monterrey is
considered one of the deadliest, most violent places in the nation and I have seen my loved ones be profoundly affected by this horrific shift. There was
always a lot of gruesome inequality but, in most towns we had basic security to move freely around. I think art is, unfortunately, sometimes our only shot
at communicating our indignation safely and effectively. Before Internet existed, films were my source of real information from the world.
Films made by
many artists working together for the love of a common project that they believed in, in which humanity was presented and experienced from a truthful
standpoint, with no cop outs. In many points in history (now as well, of course) films and filmmakers have been banned for political reasons- that’s how
annoying they can be to oppressing systems, how dangerous. Mexico has relied on television for decades to keep the citizens misinformed and in a constant
state of stupor. I mean we live in a time where democracy is almost synonymous with oligarchy. Artists have a tremendous purpose in society, which is to
continually expose, to continually challenge and to never stop producing. To never stop creating, no matter what.
What would the win at the Independent Spirit Awards mean to you? Who would first person that will come to your mind?
It would just be a tremendous recognition of my work. My husband is the first person, because god knows it’s hard to love a struggling actor and he has
been a force of nature. My son gave me a new and enhanced shot at life – he is to thank for my whole past, present and future existence.
Lots of more work! A mystery. As it has always been.
Hang out with Andrea at www.andreasuarezpaz.com
Written by Juan Caceres, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the
specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow[AT]LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook