The Ground-breaking Film "Luminarias"...10 Years Later

Actress Dyana Ortelli and actress/writer/executive producer Evelina Fernandez remember when Latino movies came of age

By Se Fija!
Published on LatinoLA: September 7, 2011

The Ground-breaking Film "Luminarias"...10 Years Later

Ten years ago, a ground-breaking film called "Luminarias" changed the lives of many working Latino actors and actresses here in Los Angeles, as well as Latinos working behind the camera and throughout the industry at large. The cast and crew, including well-known talent like Cheech Marin, Robert Beltran, Dyana Ortelli, Sal Lopez and many many others still remember the movie with great affection, and the Los Angeles Theater Center recently hosted a tenth-anniversary screening and celebration of the movie that triggered a flood of memories and moments.

Executive producer Evelina Fernandez, the writer of the play and the screenplay and of the four lead actresses, recently told Se Fija! that, "Watching the film again after all these years was interesting because it is still so relevant. It also reminds us how important it is to support Latina projects because there are so many important stories that need to be told."

Dyana Ortelli, took a look back on the experience as well, in an exclusive talk with Se Fija!

"Ten years ago, a Latina writer/actress named Evelina Fernandez was so fed up with the stereotypical images of Latina women in television and film as nothing but maids, hookers, suffering barrio mothers that she decided to write her own story--a story that she could relate to, that uplifted the images of Latinos in the United States. That story was "Luminarias," which ultimately became a ground-breaking film about four professional, educated Latina women living in the multi-cultural city of Los Angeles who meet on a regular basis to share stories of relationships, men, infidelity, family, work, love.

The film was not only written by a Latina, it was also directed by a Latino, produced by Latinos, financed entirely by the Latino community, and featured authentic Latino actors playing Latino roles. Hard to believe, but up until then, the likes of Meryl Streep, Glenn Close and Winona Ryder were typically cast in Latino roles ("House of the Spirits").
"Luminarias" broke new ground. Latinos were finally "good enough to play themselves" and able to write and produce their own projects. As Latino actors, most of us were experiencing our first opportunity to play the kinds of roles Hollywood just wasn't writing for us. How fortunate we were!"

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