Autumn was in full swing in New York one early morning in September 2002 when Thalía Sodi answered a call that would shake her to the core. Her sisters, actress Laura Zapata and writer Ernestina Sodi, had been kidnapped in Mexico City the night before, and her captors now were asking for millions in ransom.
“I thought someone was pulling my leg,” she recalls. Thalía herself answered the kidnappers’ first call, which led her to a panic attack for which she was sedated. “I sent the guy to hell and hung up, but I knew inside it was true and said to myself: ‘This is happening.’ It was terrible moment for my entire family.”
Without a doubt, that moment has not only been one of the worse she’s had to live through, but five years later, it still marks a before and after in the singer’s family dynamics. Both Zapata and Ernestina were released, and today, Zapata is more distanced than ever from her sisters and their mother, Yolanda Miranda.
Thalía, who spoke exclusively with People en Español about the kidnapping and its repercussions in her family, says she is sure that eventually, they will all come together once again.
But until that day arrives, the 35-year-old singer and businesswoman is giving her heart and soul to a project that takes precedence over any other, one that maybe some day could be used as an olive branch in restoring peace in the family.
“This year, I’m going to be a mom,” says a euphoric and visibly plumper Thalía, who in February was already wearing loose clothing during her interview and photo shoot with People en Español. “I swear it’s happening this year. I’m ready; as a woman I feel it’s the ideal time, the ideal time in my career. I want it and I am going to be (a mother). There is no better time.”
And she adds what her husband, music mogul Tommy Mottola, thinks about the upcoming addition to the family: “If it had been up to Tommy, I would have had children from the first day we married. I would already have three or four. He’s a very good father (he has two children from a previous relationship). He can’t wait to have another child. He’d love it. It’s exciting; I can’t wait to see, to feel it.”
Until the much cherished first-born arrives (Thalía laughs and in jest tells us, “Show me the money!” when we ask her for the exclusive on her pregnancy), the singer has two projects in the works that would go hand in hand with buying exquisite baby clothes: launching a new CD and hosting the national Conexión Thalía Radio Show (ABC Radio Networks en Español) on weekends.
The singer touches on everything from fashion, music, immigration and medical insurance to relationships and love, hoping to guide and entertain millions of Hispanics across the U.S. “I’m at a moment, as a woman, that is very creative, very productive, very open,” says Thalía, who is still undergoing physical therapy to heal the knee she broke while skiing last December.
When they hear her on the show, listeners will get the sense that they’re sitting in her living room, chatting with Thalía, says Kevin Miller, senior vice president of business development for ABC Radio Networks. “They’re going to be able to get to know her personally, what matters to her; they’re going to meet her friends, her perspective on life,” he says. “She’s incredible, wonderful, caring, passionate.”
Adds Mottolla, 58: “This is the next big step in Thalía’s career. The show will not only showcase her extraordinary talent, but it will also allow her to discuss different topics directly with millions of fans.”
The show and new CD –being recorded in New York, where Thalía lives with Mottola– come at a point when the singer says she’s found a spiritual balance in her life.
“There was a time in recent years when I wandered through a desert “, said Thalía, who was re-baptized as a Christian in 1995. “It came about after the kidnapping, a feeling in my heart that although God was there, because He never leaves you, you don’t want to see Him. And you cast Him aside, but He is always there. Now, I have come back from that desert and I’m in an oasis.”
But not all has been calm in that oasis. Although her two sisters managed to escape captivity alive thanks to Thalía paying their ransom (word has it that she forked over millions to the kidnappers, some of whom were eventually arrested and jailed), the ordeal tore her whole family apart.
Zapata, who starred in a play based on her experience, Cautivas, in México, hasn’t minced words about how hurt she is with Ernestina, particularly after one of her friends told the Mexican press about his theory that Zapata staged the kidnapping to profit from it.
“It was a huge blow to my heart after having suffered so much during the kidnapping –because I was a victim too– for Ernestina to say that I was the one behind it, that hurts,” said Zapata.
The oldest of five sisters, she denies the allegation that sent her to the hospital with a temporary facial paralysis, and who is not ruling out suing Ernestina for libel.
“My family is divided and torn apart, and that’s very sad. It’s a broken family. She adds: “I think there is a great deal of rivalry (between Ernestina and I). She got a taste of fame after the kidnapping.”
Ernestina, on the other hand, won’t comment on Zapata. “There won’t be any kind of response on my part,” said the author firmly.
She who wrote about the weeks she spent captive, time in which she was physically and emotionally abused, in her book Líbranos del Mal, which will be published in English this year.
“Everything I have to say to her and to my family, I say directly to them.”
In every family, says Thalía, “there are problems, there are issues, there are crisis,” but love can overcome it all. “I adore all of my sisters, and I put my mother on a pedestal,” said the singer of “Piel Morena.” “As a member of this family, I’m open to any and all dialogue.”
Even though Thalía predicts a reconciliation, (“Of course it will happen,” the singer said), Zapata sees things differently.
“For now, I will love them from a distance, because we’ve reached the point where you say ‘Save yourself,’ ” said Zapata who is grateful to Thalía for paying the ransom and who hopes one day her sister will hear her version of what happened during and after the kidnapping, just as she has heard Ernestina’s. “And I want to be safe.”
Whether Thalía manages to rescue her family once again is yet to be seen. For now, her focus is on her impending motherhood, even if it leads her to put her career on hold for a while. “It would be better, because I’d be so fulfilled, so radiant, feeling so whole, so full of energy,” Thalía says about her life as a working mother down the road.
“That would be the ultimate blessing, on top of all the beautiful things I have in my life.”