NK Gutierrez explains the process of filmmaking, her Afro-Latino culture, and her short film The New Year. This film has been met with great acclaim while picking up steam as official selections like The Martha's Vinyard Film Festival and now Black Harvest Film Festival. NK discusses her experience with us.
1. What does it mean to be "Afro-Latina"? Describe the culture.
NK:I was born straddling the racial line of Mexican-American and African-American. Raised solely by my Mexican mother, I grew up identifying as a Latina. It wasn't until I went away to college and discovered an incredible community of African-American men and woman that I could identify with, and feel a part of, that I was able to truly start discovering my African roots. For me, being Afro-Latina or Blaxican, as I refer to myself in HBO's Habla Mas, is living harmoniously within all that I am culturally. Today, I proudly stand as a woman who no longer straddles a line but rather stands affirmed in a space of, "Chocolate and Dulce de Leche SWIRL!" Get it!?
2. What made you decide to go into acting and filmmaking?
NK:I have always been a performer. I started dancing at the age of two and recital season was my FAVORITE time of year. Prepping rigorously for the big performance, dress rehearsals, and being on stage in front of large crowds is where I felt safe and purposed. But for a number of years my endeavors were contrary to my true calling. I spent years hiding from what I was truly called to do because I didn't think I was pretty enough, or skinny enough to be on the big screen. I didn't look like ANYONE in the world of entertainment.
It wasn't until I studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico at Tec de Monterrey, seeing first hand what my great grandparents left behind so that we could have a better life. Then, I stopped comparing and started being grateful. My fear was slowly replaced with gratitude. I was given the wonderful gift of opportunity to create whatever l desired. I stopped whining about not seeing anyone like me on TV and decided I would be the change I longed to see.
3. Why is the film "The Last New Year" timely for this generation? What is it about?
NK: TLNY is a comedic short about a girl, Alyssa, played by myself, that hasn't gotten laid nor been on a date in nearly 3 years. When Alyssa decides that she must end this drought when her bestie, Shayna, played by Adrienne Walker, (who recently became the new 'Nala' in The Lion King on Broadway), helps in her endeavor to reclaim the inner 'Peen Queen'. However, the story goes far beyond the surface issue of being desperately dateless; it's about a woman being empowered in her sexuality and comfortable in her skin.
I believe this piece is timely for our instant gratification, sex obsessed generation because contrary to what the media tells us, female sexual empowerment is not just about having the power to say 'YES I love and desire sex', but being okay with saying 'NO, I'm worth the wait'. I believe female sexual empowerment is being able to TRULY differentiate between sexual desire and the desire for intimacy and getting to a place where you're not blindly substituting one for the other. So often we believe the fix to being lonely is sex, but what I challenge the viewer to unearth in this comedic piece is whether the true desires of Alyssa's heart are being met.
NK: Oh!.... the ups and downs of filmmaking! Making TLNY has been the most beautiful, difficult, rewarding, and faith building experience of my life thus far. There are so many things that go right and wrong when making a film. I personally feel that this film allowed me to fully blossom into my purpose. The trials of dealing with personalities, money woes, and creative mishaps in order to see my vision through showed me that when I am truly in alignment with my purpose I am able to conquer anything with God!
5. Give 2 quotes/lessons to live by. Explain.
NK: It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. It is also said that where the eyes go the body follows. Therefore, I believe that when the soul is in alignment with its God appointment your "purpose vision' becomes 20/20.
I have come to realize that the posture of your heart will determine your placement in your purpose so guard your heart fiercely, nurture your dreams always, and surround yourself with a tribe that will love you even when you feel unloveable.
6. Who would you like to work with in the future and why? Pick 3 actors/actresses.
NK: Kate Winslet, Eamonn Walker, and Kevin Spacey. I believe that these 3 savants will not only make me a better artist, I am confident that being in their presence will make me a better human being, and that's really the point of all of this, don't you think?
7. Finish this sentence with one or 2 words.
NK: The filmmaking process is...painfully fabulous.
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