Thanks to her beauty and talent, Marlene Favela has managed to conquer the heart of the telenovela audience, which has made her one of the most popular Mexican actresses in recent years. Yet her success has not been merely a streak of good luck. Today the 31-year-old thespian is savoring the fruits of a career that includes directing for TV, stage acting, 14 telenovelas, a special appearance on the American TV series Ugly Betty (ABC) and even the movie Species: The Awakening in Hollywood.
Now Favela is celebrating the birth of a new professional baby, the movie Playball, which she filmed in Dominican Republic and has just been shown in the first Dominican Film Festival in Miami, Florida.
Can you imagine Marlene Favela speaking with a Dominican accent? We asked the actress from Durango, Mexico, specifically about that experience and she gave us full details, in an exclusive, from how she trained to speak as a Dominican to the stomach virus she caught during filming in that Caribbean country. And of course we had to ask how things were going with her boyfriend, the Mexican politician and boxer Jorge Kahwagi, whom rumor has it she’s planning to marry.
Tell us about your character in “Playball”…
I play Elena, the lead character’s girlfriend. It’s a romantic comedy about a social problem in the Dominican Republic, kids who play baseball and use drugs and what this whole issue entails. It’s a light movie with a message. It tells the story of a kid who makes it to the major leagues and due to the situation [the drug issue] his career crashes. It’s a message directed to the young, but it’s also a love story. Elena is Mexican, but she has lived there [in Dominican Republic] her entire life, and it was a lot of fun having to speak like a Dominican. (Laughs)
Was it hard to imitate the Dominican accent?
It was fun to do, and in the end I don’t know if I actually spoke like a Cuban, a Dominican or a Puerto Rican, a mix of everything. But it was great because when Alfonso Rodríguez, the director, explained the character to me, he said: “I want you to be as natural as possible.”
Did you enjoy working in Dominican Republic?
It was a beautiful experience. I had been there before promoting some telenovelas. The people are very warm; the film crew was highly professional. I have always wanted to make a movie, and I’ve now had the chance to make two, outside my country, and they are different experiences, different working environments.
Talk to us about your preparing for the role. Did they suck you into the life of the average people?
Look, since the moment I got there, I went out on the streets to try to listen to the people. Some of the words were eliminated because, as you know, when it comes to talking, we Mexicans pronounce every single letter (laughs) while Dominicans don’t. Then I tried to listen to my fellow actors as well as the people. Particularly when we were in location because all of a sudden I would say, “Hey, I don’t understand this, what is it?” I really had a lot of fun.
And the food?
Something happened to me. I got a stomach virus that kept bothering me for months and I had to take antibiotics. It was something I ate. I don’t know if it was vegetables or seafood. I was very sick with diarrhea and vomiting, but I kept filming until the end because this happened two days before coming back to Mexico. It was tough. I had never suffered from salmonella before and now, after this incident, the virus remains alive. That’s why you have to be careful. Suddenly you get sick in any place, and it’s not because the place is dirty, but because you’re not used to it. So I need to be more careful next time I go there.
You share credits with your fellow countrywoman Ivonne Montero…
[She] played the role of a girl who wanted to take on the lead guy (laughs). Wow, it was fun. When Ivonne got to the set I had already been there four or five days filming, and she said, “Hey, what’s with the accent?” Because she had to speak like a Dominican too. And it was nice to share, give each other tips and all that.
How is your relationship with Jorge Kahwagi? Are you finally tying the knot?
Look, I’m okay and that covers many things. I consider myself a successful woman… in everything. In my personal life, I have a wonderful family that I love, marvelous friends, a beautiful life. To get into details about relationships is not something I think the public cares much about. I believe the public is much more interested in what I can contribute as an actress.
But people always want to know…
I’m perpetually in love with love. I’m in peace. I live in love with all that surrounds me, especially my work. The rest is my own matter, something personal. And I’d rather have it stay that way.