Hollywood power player Darlene Caamaño Loquet is making waves in the Latino community as President and COO of Nala Films which she co-created. Nala Films is a financing and production company that empowers audiences by making films for Latinos by Latinos. Her most recent project is the much anticipated Spanish-language comedy Casa De Me Padre starring Will Ferrell, Diego Luna and Garcia Bernal to be released March 16th. She was recently named one of the “10 Most Powerful and Influential Latino Women in Hollywood” by the Hollywood Reporter and Nielsen Ratings and was chosen as one of the “10 Producers to Watch” by Variety. Loquet took time out of her busy schedule to discuss with us some of her noteworthy accomplishments.
How did you get to be the President and COO of Nala Films?
I had been in the film industry for a while before I got to Nala. I started out as an assistant at Trimark Pictures before moving on to Dreamworks production company Patchwork Productions where I started as a creative exec and later became Vice President. I was there for about 4 years before making the difficult decision to leave and run Gregory Nava’s company El Norte Productions. It was there where I had a rude awakening. I discovered that Hollywood embraces Hispanic culture when a Latina actress is headlining a number one movie, but no other Hispanic films ever really get made. While working for Nava I realized that I didn’t want to make movies about people crossing the border, I felt like there were other stories that I wanted to tell. I set out with my friend Noah Rosen to start the management/production company D-NO which was a great experience but since we didn’t have a lot of movies under our belt we weren’t getting things green lit. That is when I met Emilio Barroso who is my current partner at Nala Films. If you look at our movies you may say, “these aren’t very Hispanic,” but at the end of the day they center around themes that resonate within our culture: family, love and faith. We work within the system to get our movies made.
You’ve received so many accolades thus far for your work. What is your reaction when you receive such positive responses?
I’m so blessed that people recognize what I’m doing, but to me the thing that’s most touching is that girls everywhere can see what I’m doing and know that they too can do anything they want as long as they put their minds to is and work toward it. Whether they end up being producers, doctors or presidents of the United States, inspiring young girls is the main reason why I’m still doing what I do.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Making this movie, Casa De Mi Padre. I thought it was important that my father, who while very supportive is so busy that he rarely sees my films, was at the Miami screening of this movie. It was incredible to see the look on his face and hear him and the rest of the audience laugh at the same parts that I think are funny. Viewing the theater full of people from such diverse cultures all enjoying the film together was a huge accomplishment for me.
What Latinos, either past or present, have inspired you?
First and foremost is my father who came to the United States from Cuba with nothing and had to completely rebuild his life. He was not only able to provide for his immediate family, but for the extended family as well. Through a situation that could have been extremely tough, he made his mark. Second I would have to say Jennifer Lopez. She represents so much to us all. She’s a Puerto Rican woman who has not lost her identity throughout everything she’s done. I think that’s quite inspirational.
What are your goals for the future?
We’re hoping and praying that Casa De Mi Padre does well so that we can continue making these kinds of films. What was interesting about making this movie with Ferrell was that this mainstream comedic star came to us saying that he wanted to make a movie in Spanish, and he didn’t want to make fun of it. He wanted to play a Mexican rancher who sounded and looked like a Mexican rancher. If this movie does well we won’t have to repeat the uphill battle it took to get this one out there. The future is about continuing to make movies, TV and online entertainment for the Hispanic population, but it’s actually for the mainstream population as well because for me Hispanic is the mainstream.