The role of the empowered woman in media is changing, and no one knows about it more than Kate del Castillo. In Netflix’s Spanish language series, Ingobernable, Del Castillo plays Mexico’s fictional First Lady, Emilia Urquiza, who is falsely accused of murdering her husband and is being pursued by the Mexican government. In an odd twist of life imitating art, around the same time that the first season was in production, the Mexican government was also pursuing Del Castillo herself for her involvement in orchestrating a meeting with American actor, Sean Penn, herself, and the notorious drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán.
“I don’t even know how I did the first season, to be honest,” she told Remezcla when remembering her experience. “I have no recall of a lot of things. Emotionally I was in another place.”
Just as Emilia is accused of a heinous crime, the Mexican government had accused Del Castillo of laundering money for El Chapo under the guise of making a film of his life. This led to Del Castillo hiding out, for the most part, in her Los Angeles home, while the production of Ingobernable used a body double for her scenes while filming in Mexico and filming her on-camera scenes in San Diego. “The analogy and all the things that were happening to me…it was very emotional. It was traumatic.”
The second season finds Del Castillo in a different place. She’s allowed to go back to Mexico, but her lawyers have advised her not to until the current President leaves office. Her character Emilia is in a different place as well, though not with as happy an outcome as Del Castillo.
She’s physically and emotionally changed, and still being hunted by the government. “She goes through a lot in this second season,” explains Del Castillo. “She’s gonna go through so much pain, and not only emotionally but physical pain. Of course something has to change inside of her, and she’s only getting stronger and stronger.”
But strength comes in many forms. For years, Hollywood has defined strong women only by their physicality, and only recently has a strong, empowered woman been looked at beyond her physical attributes. And yet, this hasn’t extended to Latina characters often. “We are always portrayed in a very bitchy way. Only if you’re a bitch you can be someone. Only if you’re a bitch you can be powerful, la reina. It’s not like that. We’re not bitches. We think, we feel, we’re smart, all those things. And not because we’re tricking anybody. There’s so many things around what the perception of a woman is, of a powerful woman.”
“We also have to be careful not to sexualize it,” she warns, “especially with Latinas. We need to be very careful with not sexualizing the characters. If they’re going to, I don’t know, get a job or get a guy or get whatever they want to get, it’s because of their brains, their wits, not because of their sexuality and not because they are tricking someone. That’s one of the things I love about Emilia because she is already that kind of woman.”
Personally, she feels that women connect to Emilia because that’s the type of woman they want to be: unapologetic. However, she also feels that Mexico has a long way to go to erasing their machismo culture. The Mexican women “all want to have las garras,” she explains, “to be someone like her (Emilia). On the other hand, there are many female machistas in Mexico, because that’s the way they were raised and that’s how they are raising their kids.”
But still, she has hopes to see her character grow even more and further re-define strong women. “I want to see her as President! I want to see her go there, with her brains and with her hard work, with her integrity. We’ll see. I have no idea where it’s going, if there’s a third season. But I hope there is and I hope she gets to be President. Hell yeah, why not?”
Ingobernable season 2 premieres September 14th on Netflix.