Veronica Falcon shares her story with REEL Ladies.
Veronica has an extensive career as a commercial, television, film, and stage actress. She has studied in New York, London, Los Angeles & Paris. She has had a very versatile career, she has worked mainly as an actress & choreographer, however she has also worked as associate producer, producer, director, writer, consultant and talent coach. Speaking 4 languages ( English, German, French and her mother tongue Spanish), she has definitely carved a name for herself in the Industry!
I am a mexican actress and choreographer. I studied in London, Paris, NY & LA paying my own way through school. When I came back to Mexico I worked mostly as a choreographer, because in those days the film industry was not producing as many films as they are today and it was a very, very closed up network. Theatre didn´t pay much and I needed money since I had a big debt with school and in those days I could hardly work in television as an actress since I was not “the type” of young actress that they were using.
They kind of didn´t care much for a “theatre trained, boobless, big nosed” actress. As a choreographer I had little competition, because I had very good training, so I thought that it was a good way to set my foot in…it turned out that it was, but then, the problem was that I became well known in that area and making a change in the perception of people was not easy at all. It has been a “trip” on it ´s own specially at 40. I´ve been a working actress all along, but before I decided to really make a big change I was percieved mostly as a choreographer.
A year and a half ago I worked on a film, that was kind of successful in Mexico and finally I was able to really make the jump from one thing to another. It´s been very stimulating and of course it has not been easy, but I fell like 18 again, I am so excited with every project I make and I absolutelly love every second of it!
I mostly work as an actress nowadays and I only choreograph very stimulating proyects: I´m about to start working in a production of the Opera Death in Venicebased on the Thomas Mann novel as a choreographer and I´m currently shooting two series and a soap opera as an actress (in only one of them I have a big role), but it´s fun. I´m aslo rewritting a one woman show that I have been trying to get ready for years. So maybe I will be able to produce it sometime soon.
Mexico has a major television industry and the network I work for (Televisa) is famous for the production of soap operas (of all things!), but now (thank God!!) they are producing series inspired I guess, by the success of productions in the US such as: 24, Desperate Housewives, CSI, etc. So I am part of the first generation of actors working in a series.
They had to hire mostly actors & directors from film & theatre because they needed character actors and people better trained and with wider ranges so here my big nose, my booblessness and my theatre & film experience this time around worked for me (go figure!!).
In Mexico most (not all) tv actors are trained by the network in a kind of “Star System“, specially the young ones, so they are not as well trained as most theatre actors are, it´s more about image. They use film & theatre actors for character roles, but the “stars” are mostly trained by the network. I´ve trained a lot of them and it´s been another trip” .
TV is the main industry here, we have a small film industry as you may well know, last year the mexican film industry produced less than 60 films in all of 2007, so it´s kind of impossible to become only a “film” actress in our industry. We still have a lot of work to do, the good news is that lately the film industry has produced great talents and good films, that have had international recognition and that is something that can only help the industry or so we hope.
In Mexico we basically lack of good agents, the concept of agent such as the ones you have in the US is basically null. Big stars have “agents” that most times turned out to be their moms or brothers. There are few professional agents like the ones you may have in the US, and those agents work only for three or four famous clients. I think there are basically like five of them!
So most actors have to represent, negotiate and network on their own. We also lack of trade papers such as “Backstage” o “Dramalogue”, you have to sign in many “talent” agencies to be able to get an idea of what´s going on, they send you on casting calls to the “castingueras” like we call them, so you can audition. But those mostly work for commercials, there´s only three or four casting agencies that offer film castings.
TV basically is cast within the network and rarelly they hire an agency to do that, so you hear about the projects with other actors, when you are working or if you get invited by a director. So if you are not working it´s hard to know what´s going on.
Being cast on a film is difficult, specially because there are few agencies that do it, few films and lots of good actors. Most of the times a director sees you in another project and then you get invited. The pay is not good (far far cry from checks you may get in a US production) but is an incredible, fun, challenging work specially in the conditions we shoot in Mexico, an amazing promotion for an actor, and here, it also kind of makes you “legit” as an actor, even more than theatre does these days.
Theatre is cast mostly by invitation, the only open calls are done by Ocesa, a big entertainement production company, that casts mostly musicals such as Rent, Les Miserables, etc. but non musical serious theatre is done only by invitation from the director. Of course there´s also theatre with plays that are commercially produced to showcase a star so those…you are really better off not doing them, few have quality and they are usually a diva driven vehicle most of the times a “nightmare”.
So basically in Mexico is kind of a miracle for actors to work, there´s mostly work in tv but you can only work for one network at a time, there´s few film productions, theatre is very demanding and is closed to most actors. No agents, no money, few serious agencies and basically anybody can give it a try: foreigners, amateurs, models, wannabes, you name it. It´s open for all. However I´ve had a blast so far and I made great, great friends within the industry so it´s great.
Only thing is that in the US working like we do, we probably would be well off, but here we are both still working for a living, I can´t complain but we are certainlly far, far away from being rich or anything like it ( Good thing we are both here,doing this work, because we love it!) The pay is good but far, far from what it should be. Royalties are a mess and most time you accept deals that are really not good in terms of money just because you wanna work or beacause it an interesting project, director or production.
To give you an idea: My husband is directing a play, shooting a film and shooting a major role in a very successful mexican series and I am doing what I told you at the beggining, we are still both working aside from our acting, directing & choreographing jobs, as acting coaches or creative consultants in different areas.
I tell you all this so you can get an little idea of how´s the industry here in Mexico, I hope I´ve shed some light in the matter.
On a more personal note: I have been married for almost ten years, to another actor / director (crazy no?).
My husband is from Poland but has a German nationality and we met in an acting master class in NYC (Go figure!!) .
We have a six year old son and we both work in Mexico, sometimes we get to do projects outside or work in US productions that shoot here. But for now we live in Mexico City.