Name: Katherine Castro
Discipline: Actress and Producer
Arts Circle Member Since: 2014
How did you get involved in the independent film world or the film world in general?For me, it all started when I was a kid. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, but from ages five to nine, I lived in the United States in Alexandria, Virginia. I had a thousand coordination problems. So my parents took me to the doctor and the doctor’s prescription basically was: “Your daughter is fine; you just have to enroll her in dance lessons.” And I realized I loved dance. Dance was natural to me. I was always performing. We would do also some of the old musicals—Singing in the Rain, The Easter Parade—so I grew up seeing these big stars—Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and I thought, “Wow, you can dance and you can also do it in the movies! This is big. This is what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.” So that’s when it started for me.
And then when we moved back to the Dominican Republic, I continued dancing, but I discovered that there really wasn’t a film industry back then over there. So after I got my degree in journalism, I decided I was going to follow my dream; I wasn’t going to grow old and not have at least tried. So I came to LA.
You’re a producer as well as an actress. How did that come about?
Yes, I also produce. It was a big discovery for me right about the year 2007. I got involved with a friend’s film. He had written this really great feature script. But he was doing a short—almost like a little sizzle reel to use to pitch to investors for the feature film. It’s called Subject 7 and it’s a sci-fi thriller. That was my first try at producing. In that case, I was an executive producer, but I was involved with a lot going on behind the scenes. After that, I just got calls from friends to do other things and one thing led to another.
I discovered I’m a very hands-on person. I’m not one to sit back and wait for someone else to make things happen. I think as an actor, it’s important to have some control of your career and be hands-on and not just leave it to the representatives. It’s great to have representatives doing their work, but I also like to have a say. Right now I’m producing a feature film called The Maven that will be a US-Dominican co-production. I’m an actress first. But [being behind the camera] is very eye opening. You learn so much and understand what goes into producing a film and casting talent. Sometimes it has nothing to do with whether the person is a good actor or not. There are so many other factors involved. And being on the producing side has allowed me to meet so many people that I probably wouldn’t have met as an actress. I feel very fortunate that I’m actually living my childhood dream. It’s pretty amazing, that I get to have fun and be creative, and at the same time, I’m still able to take off my actor’s hat and put on my business hat, my producer’s hat. One cannot exist without the other.
How did you become involved with Film Independent?
As an independent filmmaker, I saw what Film Independent does and what they’re about–that they’re helping independent filmmakers put their projects together, guiding them and holding their hands through the process. It’s not easy to produce a film independently. I believe that we’re all in this together and that we’re here to help each other out. And so if I can help the underdog in any way shape or form, I will because I’m an underdog myself. I’m not even halfway to where I’d like to be in my career. I know that there’s so much more. But I don’t have to wait to be the biggest celebrity in the world to get involved and help—as we say in the Dominican Republic, mis camaradas—my fellow filmmakers and actors. I think we need to help each other out every step of the way.
Let’s go back to dance on film. What are some recent films that you wish you could have been a part of when it comes to dance on screen?
When Rob Marshall did Chicago, I felt like my moment was here. That is one of my favorite modern-day musicals. One of my favorite characters is Velma Kelly. Catherine Zeta-Jones did such an amazing job and I don’t think I could bring anything more to that, but I love how fun that was. It stayed true to the era, but it was so current in the way it was filmed. I loved it. It’s one of those films that I could see over and over and over again.
Is there a dance component to The Maven?
The dance component to The Maven would be the fight choreography. I also do Capoeira, which is the Brazilian martial art. You see Capoeira and you think it’s dance, but it really isn’t. I started training Capoeira back in 2006. I saw that it combined everything that I knew and loved, dancing, gymnastics, performance, but also this new set of skills. The Maven is more of a political thriller. So the fight sequences are going to be very hand-to-hand combat, closed body, but you will be able to see some of the agility and maybe some movements that are Capoeira-based.
Dancing comes into everything that I do, whether it’s martial arts or creating a character. Characters all have a certain movement to them. There’s a certain musicality in everything that they do. So dance is involved in all aspects of my life. It will always be there.
Find out more about joining Film Independent’s Arts Circle.
Tom Sveen / Film Independent Blogger