One morning in August 2018, a group of women were crying around a grave in the Panteón Guadalupe Mixcoac, in Mexico City. The pain in those laments was such that not even the birds dared to interrupt them with their song. Just a cry of “cut!” reminded me that this was part of fiction, although not even Julián Hernández’s voice managed to stop the tears shed by the cast of The goddess of asphalt, his new movie. A new arrangement of the cameras gave me a few minutes to talk with some of the actresses in that scene. The first one was Mabel chain. Despite still showing in his eyes the sadness of the sequence we had just witnessed, our talk began with his smile and his excitement for filming his first movie.
After graduating from CasAzul, the school of Performing Arts of the Argos production company, Mabel made her debut in the industry in different television series, such as Capadocia, Camelia, la texana or El señor de los cielos. On his way he was followed by titles such as La bandida, Por la Máscara, Monarca, Hernán or Ingobernable. His name was appearing more and more on television, but his enthusiasm for being part of the big screen was still waiting his turn to shine.
In the background, right, Mabel Cadena on the set of The Goddess of Asphalt. In front of her, the director Julián Hernández. Photo: Eduardo Islas / Cinema PREMIERE
“What are you going to take from Ramira?” I asked him about his character in The Goddess of Asphalt. “As an actress and a human being, I think I have had a very great evolution with this project,” he replied. “I have known limits that I did not know, I have overcome things that have surprised me. It is a project that leaves many things. It took me a long time. I have depersonalized myself. The goddess of the asphalt has played with my feelings and my vulnerability. It has been very strong. It makes me very happy. You don’t know what it means to me to be making a movie like this. There couldn’t be a better way to get started in cinema than here and with these people. And I want to continue making more cinema. I wish it so”.
A couple of years later, I meet Mabel Cadena again. Now it is not in a pantheon but everyone from their homes, through a video call to talk about The dance of 41, his second leading role in Mexican cinema. Her professional life has been in existence for more than 10 years, and along that path she has discovered a way of living through fiction:
“I saw how what I was doing impacted my own life and those close to me. And as I progressed, I began to dream of doing projects that would always transform others.
Mabel Cadena in The Goddess of Asphalt.
The new test of his dreams is called Amada Díaz, daughter of Porfirio Díaz and wife of a man who starred in one of the most scandalous and stigmatized moments in the history of Mexico: El baile de los 41. From the hand of the award-winning David Pablos ( The chosen ones), Mabel Cadena is extremely happy for a second chance to shine in a powerful fiction and reflects on opportunities and racialization.
“It rarely happens in a woman like me, with brown skin, with these features, the power to embrace such opposite worlds and go from the neighborhood –in La godiosa del Asfalto– to the Porfiriato –in El baile de los 41–. I couldn’t be happier that these things are being accomplished. ”
Julián Hernández’s film made her participate in the official selection of the 2020 Morelia Film Festival, a contest that was also closed by the film by David Pablos.
“What is the greatest learning you have had since those CasAzul years until now?” I ask him. “Understand that things don’t always happen when you want and at the time you want. And that does not mean that one should stop working, “he replied. “And I think empathy and teaming up has brought me very good things. I do believe that after doing The Goddess of Asphalt and The Dance of 41, my life changed. And not only do I speak externally, but internally everything moved. ”
The dance of 41: a dance against homophobia.
Monika Revilla: the scriptwriter of El baile de los 41 who writes our past.
A fear that transforms
There is a quite peculiar similarity between our talk in that pantheon shoot and our virtual talk. “I’m a scary actress,” she said both times. “
I don’t know if it is the correct word but my work is my life, it is my passion; I am super nailed, super perfectionist. I always want something to stay with me about the women I play. I always confront myself a lot and that is why I am afraid to start new projects ”.
The way to overcome that fear, he says, is to find the strength of his characters. “And I didn’t find my strength in El baile de los 41 until the first day of filming. Before I was very afraid; it involved many challenges. He had, for example, a scene where he rode bareback. In the end, it was no longer in the movie, but there were 4 months where I was learning to ride with a corset. It was not an easy job and I held on and held on until I had to start giving in to find other possibilities. Amada Díaz challenged me all the time. But on day 1 of filming, when they covered me with layers and layers of clothing, and locked me up almost all the time in a house, I found my strength in their solitude ”.
“It seems that fear has brought you pure good things,” I tell her and she smiles. “It has given me a lot of learning and a lot of good things,” he explains. “I came to El baile de los 41 with fear because it came from The Goddess of Asphalt. His hair was short and his self-esteem was very low. I said, ‘No one is going to see me or want to turn me into a vintage woman.’ But my fear never limited my performance as an actress. That fear always motivates me to go after those risks ”.
Perhaps Mabel Cadena’s secret lies in holding on to the excitement of starting new projects. “That perfectionism and discipline is part of my commitment to my characters. I want living characters, transgressors, who leave something in society; in women, in men, in all human beings who can see them. That fear makes me want to do things right and live up to the lives that I have played. I prefer to be afraid to be left to owe [a mis personajes] to believe that I already solved it. Today I feel very excited and want to dream that what I do can transform a society ”.
Mexican cinema Mabel Cadena
Arturo Magaña Arce Passionate about watching, writing, reading, researching and talking about cinema in all its forms. I’m a Star Wars fan, I know all the Friends chapters by heart and if you ask me about Mexican cinema, there is no one to shut me up. Editor at Cine PREMIERE.