EXCLUSIVE: Lauren Velez Revives La Lupe Off-Broadway

We caught up with Dexter actress Lauren Velez to talk to her about her exciting new project, an off-Broadway show about the extraordinary singer La Lupe's life called, They Call Me La Lupe, opening Jan. 4, 2011, at Teatro LATEA in New York City.

Tell us about your new one woman show, They Call Me La Lupe?

La Lupe’s life story is my passion project. I’ve been working on it for years. Originally, what I wanted to do was a film based on Lupe’s life—which I have a wonderful script for now. But in the interim, I met a writer named Luis Caballero who is incredibly talented, and he collaborated with James Manos Jr. (who created Dexter) to write me a one-woman show based on this woman’s life. We’ve work shopped the play before, but this is the first time that we’re going to actually do it as a run for 14 performances. I’m over the moon about it, and a little bit scared.

What are you scared about?

I’ve done this play before, and it’s a marathon! This woman was the most extraordinary force of nature. She was completely ahead of her time, so talented, independent, fiery, volcanic, and dynamic. Her story is a bit of a classic rags to riches story and at the very end, a tale of redemption. She had so many extraordinary events happen in her life, and she experienced so much love, so much loss, and so much pain and heartache. The first 10 minutes of her life could be a film unto itself. The play is a platform to prepare myself for the film, which we'll be shooting sometime next year. We’re working with the Puerto Rican Film Commission and hopefully we can do some filming there. I really want to have the character in my body and live her and experience her more. It’s addictive playing this character.

Why should Latinos check out the show?

This show is great theater and great music and it’s not going to cost you a zillion dollars. There aren’t a lot of great stories about Latinos—and even less about Latina women. I think everyone is going to walk away from this play inspired by this incredible story and really learn something about somebody who lived freely. I’d pay to see that.

Why do you think it’s important to tell La Lupe's story?

It’s important because for so many people she was forgotten, and this woman broke through incredible barriers. She was part of this movement in this country, an incredibly exciting time when we had the Beatles, and revolutions and she was a revolution unto herself. And the fact that this revolution was Afro-Carribean, it should never be forgotten. It’s very inspiring. Also, while people say Lupe was forgotten, at the end of the day, what she found was herself and her own self-worth. Ultimately, fame goes away and what you're left with is yourself. That’s what Lupe found in the end. She found peace. She found God. She walked away with something that most people don’t get to experience. People said she was crazy. They asked, 'Who is she that she gets to live so freely?' ¡Mentira! Everybody gets to do it. It’s just that not everybody has the balls to do it!

We think it’s awesome that an actual Latina is playing a real-life Latina in a play!

[Laughs] It does happen! I’m happy about it too. I could be waiting for somebody to do it for me, but I’m not. I hired the writer. I got into production with LATEA Theater and this is the way we [Latinas] have to get things done. Because unfortunately, it’s still not a level playing field, so that means we have to keep pushing and pushing. I’m going to keep pushing for me, and for my niece, and for every single Latina that’s out there who thinks they have to wait for something—you don’t have to wait for anything. Me and Lupe are here to tell you not to wait. No esperes. Brinca!

They Call Me La Lupe opens Jan. 4, 2011, at Teatro LATEA. To purchase tickets, go here.

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