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Behind the Scenes of My Latest Film: Mi Princesa

By Darlene Vazquetelles

When people think of actors, they probably think of Hollywood and the following two adjectives: glamour and luxury.  Few are aware of the struggles most of the actors go through to be seen, booked and paid to do a job.  On the one hand, some make it all the way through to the spotlight, are booked and paid. On the other hand, some are happy just to be paid to do something they love. The latter is my story. I started acting when I was in my early teens.  I was doing local commercials and T.V. shows in Puerto Rico.  Although I wanted to work behind the scenes, life led me to the world in front of the camera and as time went by, I started considering acting as a career.  Little did I know that it was a decision that would involve more sacrifices than I could have ever imagined.  

I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting at a time when Latinas were still not accepted in the industry unless you were auditioning for the maid, nanny or prostitute role.  Although some of these have not changed, Sofia Vergara has recently opened more doors for us.  When I first moved out there in 2002, I was constantly told that I had to take accent reduction classes.  Stubbornly, I refused.  Fast forward to the present, and the casting directors love my accent as I sound like the girl from that show:  Modern Family. I never lost myself in the Hollywood field of dreams. I was asked out by producers, who thought I was going to be the “aspiring actress who would do anything for a role." I would walk away from these type of situations, with tears running down my face as I faced the sad reality that can happen to young girls out there. However, nothing made me give up.  I would wipe my tears off and keep moving forward.  Having to make a difficult and painful sacrifice to be so far away from my family to pursue my career made me determined not to become intimidated because some "powerful players" were ignorant. 

Actors often struggle with earning a living. Oftentimes, people joke about actors struggling to make ends meet but, sadly, it is the truth.  Because of the instability of auditions and work, we will be the ones acting as your server, bartender, hostess, etc.  If you think that sending resumes and going to a couple of job interviews is hard, imagine having to do that two to three times on a daily basis, and to be called back one out of the last ten interviews (auditions). Although it can become frustrating, it is a matter of keeping your self-esteem and faith at a high level. 

And then come the times when an acting job parallels the reality of your life, i.e.,  "Too close to home" moments.

Such was the case for the movie I would like to introduce you to in this article you called Mi Princesa (My Princess).  I was sitting on the floor of my apartment in North Hollywood packing everything into boxes as my relationship of 2 ½ years came to an end.  It was a very emotional time for me when I was crawling around life with a broken heart.  Puerto Rican Director Carlos Jimenez Flores, whom I had worked for before in two other films, called and asked me to be in his next film that would start shooting at home: Puerto Rico.  Although at first I did not want to do it as I was trying to take in what had just happened in my life, I was convinced by him and one of the other actors to take the job.  I flew to Puerto Rico to work on the film and soon my life turned around for the better!

Although as actors, we go through a lot of downs, there are the ups that you do experience when you are part of this beautiful art. Talk about timing... As my relationship with a love ends, I start working on my first acting job as the lead actress in a romantic movie.  Aside from having family and friends around to cheer me up, the irony of this life event brought smiles and laughter back to my life.  I arrived July 13th of 2012 and started shooting my scenes on the 14th.  I did not have much time to settle back at my parents’ apartment.  But there I was...  I moved on and showed-up for work.  

As I walked to the set on the first day, I took in the beautiful scenery in front of me and thanked God for the opportunity to be working at home. I was now playing the role of Mayra, a good girl who is full of life, surrounded by family and friends.  The only thing she has been missing is love, and she was about to find it.  Again, very ironic as I had just lost it in real life.  Nevertheless, I was ready to play this character!

Humor Always Works
One of the challenges you can face when working on a film is a lack of connection with fellow actors, especially when shooting a romance.  Being that Mi Princesa was shot without scripted lines and we had to improv, I was a little bit scared  how the interaction would turn-out between the actor, whom was playing my love interest, and myself.  I met him less than 10 minutes before the shooting of our first scene.  I have to admit that it was challenging at first.  The director let us know what he wanted out of the scene, and we proceeded to give it to him, but it was a little bit uncomfortable at first for both of us. This was his first acting job, and I was fighting the emotions that were so fresh inside of me as a result of all the changes in my life that I was facing.  Still, we did our scene and after seeing the final result, it could not have been better! 

The first scene with my love interest, Ricky (actor Roberto Perez Perez), in the film.
After the ice was broken and days of shooting went by, everything just started flowing in divine order. The Director found some amazing locations, where I could enjoy the beautiful scenery of my island that I had been missing for so long.  Some of the scenic locations we shot the film included: The beaches, mountain view locations in the country, resorts, and venues with great local live music. I was finding that happy place again.  I was home.  I got to work with one of my best friends, actress Millie Ruperto, a great crew and to add icing to the cake--my niece Kenya.  The Director offered my niece a role in the movie, and she flew from Miami to be a part of the film.  I had my team!  

Morovis, Puerto Rico
Waiting to shoot a wedding scene with actor Roberto Perez Perez and a great friend and actress Millie Ruperto
Behind the Scenes with My Beautiful Nice Kenya de Jesus 
Kenya Receiving Directions 
Old San Juan, Puerto Rico: One of My Favorites
After two weeks of shooting, my heart content and I was happy!  We had an amazing project in our hands.  I was able to go back and work in my beautiful island of Puerto Rico while surrounded by love and creating new memories.  I was back to being me. 

With the Production Crew
 by the Fortress-El-Morro in San Juan 
Production finished during the last week of July 2012.  As in any production, there can be obstacles that can put at risk the  film of being finished and/or released. So was the case with Mi Princesa.  Some of the crew parted ways. Some footage was given to the editing team later than expected and while other footage was lost. The editing went from hands of the crew in Puerto Rico to another company in Chicago, which is the hometown of Director Carlos Jimenez Flores.  

I received a phone call the day after Thanksgiving of 2013, in which I was notified of some scenes that were missing. So, I flew to Chicago. I was pretty excited.  Not only was I going to go back to portray the character of Mayra, whom I loved, but I was going to do it in a completely new setting: the snowy town of Chicago!  

Yes, I had never seen snow and traveling to Chicago to shoot three more scenes for the movie allowed me to go through this experience for the first time ever!  I was feeling like a little kid! 

So, here I was in the cold Chicago shooting scenes that were supposed to be in warm Puerto Rico.  Fortunately, the scenes were shot inside. 

With Director Carlos Jimenez Flores 
Mi Princesa is a beautiful film that includes culture, traditions, love, beautiful scenery, friendships, music, family and the art of being able to forgive. It is amazing how I started shooting this film coming from a broken heart and finished it a year and a half later in love with an amazing man God was saving for me.  Things happen for a reason!

I want to share with you a teaser for MI PRINCESA: YouTube Teaser HEREThis film will be released in 2014!  

For more information, contact me at or on my Twitter.  


Jerry Green said...

Can't wait to see it! Looks dope.

Kim Reed said...

Looks lovely! I wish I could go filming in this type of destination...

Anonymous said...

Congrads Darlene!

Darlene Vazquetelles said...

Thank you!! I will let you all know when and where it will be shown. I appreciate you taking the time to read!


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