Dominican actress Katherine Castro is living in the moment and enjoying her success after her film Someday won Best Short at New York's Dominican Film Festival. She shares that experience with CHICA, as well as how being a proud Caribbean Latina has influenced her life and career.
Growing up in Santo Domingo, Katherine Castro took ballet, tap and jazz lessons to improve her balance and quickly became one of the school’s most outstanding dancers. At age 17, Castro landed a spot on El Sótano, a daily national variety show. Castro also hosted Música en 1/4 de Hora for Show del Mediodía and A MIL, where she worked with Dominican television personality, the late Freddy Beras Goico.
Castro now lives in Los Angeles, where she kick-started her acting career and is already leaving her mark with her new romantic drama Someday (Integrated Arts & Media), which premiered at New York’s Dominican Film Festival and won a Best Short award. The film tells the story of two strangers who meet on a 14-hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles.
How did it feel to win an award at this year’s Dominican Film Festival?
I never thought that I would get so emotional because you’re among your peers and getting that love and recognition from them really is the sweetest moment. In Spanish, we have this saying that goes “Nadie es profeta en su propia tierra” [“Nobody is a prophet in their own land”]. So getting this not only from the organizers and the judges but also from other filmmakers that were there in the competition means the world. That’s my Oscar. That’s how it feels. I just won my Oscar. It feels amazing and I feel humbled and grateful and it just makes me want to continue to do more of what I love.
Someday is a passion project inspired by a real-life experiences you had. How often do your experiences influence your roles?
I think all of my experiences somehow will definitely influence my roles. The way I like to do it is to find out what similarities I have to this character so that I can make it as truthful as possible. And then, of course, when you haven’t had an experience, that’s where you put in more work and research. You might even try to have that experience to really put yourself in the shoes of another so that you can better understand their experience on a visceral level, not only on an intellectual level. When it comes to creating and producing a film, I do like to get inspired by real-life experiences.
How has being Latina influenced your career?
I am a proud Caribbean Latino woman and it’s just who I am. It’s my entire being. Of course, I don’t necessarily play a Latina all the time because of the industry’s view of what a “Latina” should look like; I don’t fit the mold. But you can’t take that away from me. It’s just like it’s part of me breathing. It’s who I am. “De los pies a la cabeza” [“From head to toe”].
Do people ever ask you where you’re from?
It’s interesting to see people’s reactions to me and I think it’s super sweet when they feel embarrassed that they’re talking to me in another language and I talk to them in Spanish. They never see it coming. I’m used to it at this point. Even back home, I have to tell them “No, no, no, no, no, no. Yo soy de aquí, soy dominicana” [“I’m from here, I’m Dominican”]. I get asked if I’m French or if I’m from Latin America. I get asked if I’m Venezuelan and I’ve been even asked if I’m mixed with Chinese or Japanese, so I get everything except Dominican.
Why did you decide to get a degree in journalism?
I love telling stories and I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller. I’ve always wanted to be able to touch people’s lives and tell people’s stories and make people feel a certain way. I quickly found out that wasn’t the way I wanted to tell stories because I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an actress; but in the Dominican Republic there wasn’t a film industry, so the closest thing that I saw to becoming a storyteller was being a journalist.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about life and who gave it to you?
It was from my acting coach, Aaron Speiser [who has worked with Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez, among others]. I have goosebumps up my arm thinking about my acting coach. He really is a master of human behavior and the one advice he gave me was to go out and live life. By that, he meant experience it all, don’t limit yourself and that’s going to make you a better actor. However, acting really isn’t about acting; it’s about learning. So, how can I be truthful as an actress if I don’t have significant life experience?
Where do you see your career going from here? What’s next for you?
I don’t really think about my career a year or 10 years from now. I don’t want to limit myself and miss out on things that are happening right now. I do want to continue doing what I love which is what I’m doing right now: my acting, making films and living each day at a time enjoying everything.