Katherine Castro, on Acting, the Importance of Preparation, & Latest Film - American Violence.
January 31, 2016
I’m from the Dominican Republic. My first taste of entertainment was when I was 1 year old. I remember dancing for my parent’s friends and what most stuck to me was the fact that these people were happy.
Every time I danced for them they were so happy, which in turn made me happy.
I was enrolled in Dance school at 5 years of age. I stated performing on stage at that age, competing at 6 and being on shows pretty much until 17. In the DR I was a TV host for a while and did lots commercials, acted on a TV pilot, and one thing lead to another.
First Job in the Entertainment Industry
I was a guest on a talk show, hosted by Cecilia García, a very prominent singer and actress in the DR. I was 9 years old. I was interviewed and also performed a solo tap dance!
Everything around me inspires my creativity. Life itself. The things going around in the world. My relationships. The lives of the people around me. An animal video on social media. Pretty much everything and anything.
My mind is always off in a creative open space somewhere with no prohibitions and limitations. I then have to translate that to bring it to the physical reality of this dimension, a perfect marriage between to my mind’s dimension to ours, which is not as easy as it seems, but it’s not impossible.
If you can see, it means there’s a way to materialize it, or as my favorite Disney quotes goes: “If you can dream it you can do it.”
Connecting to people.
I discovered at 1 years old that I could affect people’s lives positively and that, in turn, would make me feel the happiest ever. Also, that it lets me live in a space where I can be free to express, say, feel, openly limitlessly, until the director says cut!
I also love about it that, in a way, it allows me to discover new things in me every day. It really makes you go inward and face all the dark places that we are all, typically, so afraid to face.
I find that very appealing and quite empowering and healing at the same time.
It has changed immensely in a positive way, and it will continue to change. More competition, yes, but also more possibilities to do what you want, how you want it and definitely easier to connect and interact with fans.
The big Studios have caught up to that and have noticed the the old Hollywood formula no longer works.
Fans want new faces, new content and real people (not reality). They want to see themselves represented in the films.
Now all you need is a smartphone and you can make your own movie. Whether a short, feature, talk show, and then upload.
That being said, it is a full time job to build your brand, precisely because of the competition, and people’s attention span has gotten shorter because there is so much out there.
If there’s something else they can or want to do, do that, because if you are looking to become an actor, it will have to be everything for them.
They literally have to be obsessed with themselves and their careers at the risk of being called selfish, self centered and many other things, and be prepared for rejections.
It’s not personal.
What have you learned in the past year that informs your plans for this year?
Count on me and only me and what I bring to the table because that is the only thing that is guaranteed. I learned that very early on but it’s definitely a constant reminder in this industry.
Be prepared and make sure I have done everything I need to do, and anticipate what could potentially go wrong and be prepared for that too, regardless of what others say that they can or will do for you, even when there’s a verbal agreement or a signed contract, chances are, more often than not, people don’t do what they say they will, and if you are not prepared, you will be left out to dry.
You can never be too prepared.
At least I know that I have done whatever it takes and I am making things happen for me. The rest, doesn’t matter.
Another thing that was made so clear during the last year is that people don’t see money the same way as I do, and that’s completely understandable.
For me, money is not the motivation that makes me wake up and be passionate about what I do every day. Money is a facilitator of things, a medium, but not what validates me.
Of course we all want to be, and should be, financially compensated, including myself, but when joining ventures with a “friend” on a project and the reality of a considerable amount of money coming in, make sure you have contracts signed and your parts, obligations and participation very clear, because money seems to have the magical power to bring people’s true colors out.
Which in the end is a blessing, because you know you you are really dealing with as your business partner.
It has aided me in connecting with my audience and growing my fan base. I absolutely use it to promote my work, to get the word out but also you raise my voice and awareness for the causes that I’m passionate about.
I think that we the people have more power than they let us in on and social media can be a powerful tool to create the change we want to see in our lives, our society, and in the world.
Top Memories in Entertainment
In no particular order;
Sundance 2013. I would say that was my official introduction to the Entertainment Industry. My publicist, Liz Rodriguez, and I attended and were invited to several very relevant events. We didn’t know how people and the media were going to react to someone they did not know, but I think we were both pleasantly surprised! I was featured on NBC Latino Top 10 Standout Latinos at Sundance. On that list was also Gael García Bernal, Jessica Alba, Diego Luna.
You just never know who’s paying attention!
Also at Sundance, that same year meeting Harvey Weinstein and talking with him about potentially working together!
Receiving an Award from Hollywood F.A.M.E Awards 2014 International Rising Star.
Meeting J. J. Abrams last year and having an incredible and powerful conversation that had nothing to do with work and/or the industry.
Receiving and award from the Women In Film Association in the Dominican Republic. I didn’t expect to get emotional but I think the fact that it comes from home, and they appreciate you and they are giving you a pat on the back and showing support is very meaningful.
In what ways do you challenge yourself to grow as an artist?
Never feeling too comfortable with yourself that you feel you know everything, because that just means you really know nothing.
Learning new things. I’m learning Russian now.
This is a revelation as I have not shared it before.
Learning new skills, refining the ones you already have. There’s always room for learning, improvement and growth.
Current Trends You're Excited About
I love the Neo Noirs films. I love that Quentin Tarantino has brought back the trend of doing films on Film. Star Wars Episode 8 just announced it will be shot entirely on Film.
I also like that we see that women are being given roles being portrayed as strong, smart, capable and independent.
There’s not enough of that but it’s slowly growing.
Great examples are: Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars Episode VII, The Divergent Series as well as Hunger Games Series, Pitch Perfect, The Help, The Most Violent Year…
Thank God for that! It’s synced on all my devices.
With so many things I have going on, it’s difficult to rely only on your sharp mental abilities. Lol!
Acting for the Film Year Program at the New York Film Academy, Scene Study with Aaron Speiser, Singing Performance with Carol D’Andrea (from the original cast of Broadway’s West Side Story), Martial arts, Silks aerial trapeze, dance, Improv, singing, dialects, Constant workshops, workshops, workshops and more workshops …the learning and preparation never ends.
Ultimately, despite all, the best teacher it’s life itself.
Observing behavior, learning body language, deciphering what’s being said through the body that’s not being said with words. I think a combination of that and all the previous.