‘Sense8’ Actress Eréndira Ibarra Talks LGBT Representation & Sparking a Revolution in Consciousness

Mexican actress Eréndira Ibarra is not afraid to take on roles that push boundaries. As Daniela Velasquez in Netflix’s Sense8, she’s not only tackled her character’s history of domestic abuse, but she’s also found herself an unlikely part of one of the show’s most explosive (and sexiest) couplings: Lito and Hernando, played by Miguel Ángel Silvestre and Alfonso Herrera. Ibarra is drawn to stories and characters that push audiences to broaden their worldview.

Perhaps no role exemplifies the actress’ interest in showcasing complex female roles like that of Mariana, one half of the fan-favorite lesbian couple in Las Aparicio, which Ibarra is reprising for the big screen. The film, which works as both sequel and prequel to the telenovela of the same name, catches audiences up with the Aparicio family while also telling the story of their curse. As fans of the Cadena Tres series know, the Aparicio women are fated to only give birth to women and are always left widowed.

Set entirely in the family’s ranch in Xico, Veracruz, where this so-called curse began, the film continues with the show’s singular take on social issues. In one subplot, Mariana and her girlfriend find themselves dreaming up ways to finally become a family, while learning about the Aparicio women’s ancestors connects the family to a long history of female subversion in the face of sexism.

Remezcla chatted with the actress about Las Aparicio, her penchant for what some producers call “off-the-wall characters,” the future of Sense8, and why she proudly counts herself a member of the LGBT community. Check out some highlights below.

Las Aparicio screens on September 9 as part of the Hola Mexico Film Festival National Tour.

On Her Family Connection To ‘Las Aparicio’

This story came from my own family. My step-mother and my dad wrote a story a long time ago that spoke about strong women who were successful at their jobs and just dealt with their lives the same way we see in these stories driven by men. And the idea of a lesbian character was very important to us from the start because we believe it’s not just about making noise in television or cinema – it’s also about giving a fair representation to a part of a community that has been ignored by the mainstream media. And we’re talking six years ago when the show was first created.

On The Show’s Feminist Tendencies

“I consider myself a feminist in every sense of the word: I believe in equality and I strive for it and I fight for it in my everyday life.”

It’s not very common to have a female-driven story. In the end, the film had a good representation of men as well, but the show itself, which is where I originally came to be tied to this story, was driven uniquely by women. And I always thought that was great. I consider myself a feminist in every sense of the word: I believe in equality and I strive for it and I fight for it in my everyday life. They started developing the character of Mariana very early into the process and basically we knew it was a story about these women who, every time they married a man he would die, and they couldn’t give birth to males in their family. Only women.

What I love about the movie is that it goes into the story that you never saw during the six beautiful months that the show was on TV. Now it’s on Netflix and it’s a very popular show all over the world. And it has to do with this dignified representation of women, and a dignified representation of the LGBT community in general. We had stories of a transgender father trying to get custody of his son, cases of homosexual parents who have to fight to keep the son after their partner dies. And we did a lot of things that were very groundbreaking.

‘Las Aparicio’
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On The Movie’s Social Conscience

We like to call the movie the cherry on top of the cake. This is something that people asked for. We didn’t leave the show thinking, “You know, we’re gonna make this movie after and it’s gonna be awesome.” Nobody thought about that. We just thought, let’s see where the show takes us. I remember my character was in love with her best friend and in the 30th episode she was out of the story. But all of a sudden we’re in episode ten and people were going, “Oh, they should stay together!” “God bless the love between them!” “Yay! I can’t believe we’re finally seeing two women falling in love without some sexual thing between them.” “This is amazing.” All of a sudden 30 episodes turned into 120 episodes and I even married the girl. It was very interactive. It was completely hand-in-hand with the audience.

And then the audience started asking and begging and crying out for a movie so they could finish seeing where these characters came from. That was very exciting for us because we saw it as an opportunity to tell the beginning, the behind-the-story, and a little bit of why these women are in this situation. And also touch this theme that – I know in Mexico and plenty of Latin American and Middle-Eastern countries – women are still traded. And this is something that started a long time ago. So it was very moving to look through this character, portrayed by Paulina Gaitán, as the first Rafaela and say, this is what happened to this woman.

On Proudly Representing the LGBT Community

“I grew up with a mother who helped us understand since day one that love that transcends gender.”

I think the universe works in mysterious ways and it’s more the stories that find me. I mean, Sense8 is definitely not something — I mean, I didn’t even know what I was reading for. I had one audition. Then I had two scenes. A callback with Lana Wachowski and James McTeigue. And then all of a sudden I was Daniela. I really didn’t know what the story was about.

I love the idea that maybe I’m just like Las Aparicio, that the universe has chosen me to channel what I believe that change is. I believe that this revolution of consciousness that we should all start to live is a wider perspective of the world, and I’m just allowed to be an active player in that game. I’ve always considered myself a part of the LGBT community because I am a bisexual woman. You know, right now I’m in a heterosexual relationship but I never saw love as a male-female situation. Ever.

I grew up with a mother who helped us understand since day one that love that transcends gender, that love transcends whatever society decides your partner should to look like. That love is everything and it permeates everything that we do. And for me it was never like, “Oh, I’m a heterosexual.” I never even saw the world in a heterosexual way. I mean I was obsessed with boys, and I think many of us are but I never fixated on “that’s the way it’s gonna be.” I remember being 15 and thinking I want to be in love, and I want to have a beautiful relationship with someone. But that someone never, not by definition, was only a man.

I always thought it was kind of beautiful that these characters found me. I also had these producers saying that a lot of actresses don’t want these parts, or don’t to deal with this, or don’t want to talk about it. But this is not something that I just want to talk about. It’s something that I want to live. You know, right now on September 11th we’re gonna take the streets because on September 10th the Mexican Church is trying to get everyone to march in the streets against gay marriage and in protection of “the family” — what they call family. It’s not just these characters. It’s my everyday life.

I want to speak out for equality. I believe that we are all equal and if we could love each other a little bit more, the world wouldn’t be so full of hate and we could work together to create this revolution of consciousness that I strongly fight for. I’m excited that people come up to me and ask me to do what they consider these off-the-wall characters, and what I consider to be just awesome representations of amazing people.

On What to Expect from Season Two of ‘Sense8’

I can’t say much. You know how secretive this type of thing can be. But we were very excited that this year we were able to take pictures and put them on social networks. It’s kind of awesome because we can bring in the fans on another level. We’re still not allowed to say much about the story. I will say that there’s a lot more Daniela, which is very exciting. I think next season is about life and beauty. I think people are going to really enjoy it in a whole different way. It’s going to open up perspectives and that’s what’s beautiful about Sense8, and that’s why I’m very happy to be part of the show and excited to work with such amazing people.

I think that if I can continue in this role of creating insanely beautiful characters together with amazing directors like Moisés Ortiz Urquidi in Las Aparicio and Lana Wachowski and James McTeigue on Sense8, then I would have the most amazing life I could ever ask for. I’m in this for the long run and I love telling stories — stories about all of us.