Recently, Fandomize had an opportunity to chat with Ariana Ron Pedrique, the lead actress of Ayar, an indie thriller movie set in the Covid-19 pandemic. She also starred as an antagonist in the TV series, Rosario Tijeras. Check out the interview below!
Shaun Hood: I understand that Ayar takes place in the Covid-19 pandemic that we’re still in the midst of today. As the lead actress, what were some of the strategies that you and the crew had in doing your best to illustrate the human struggles that come with this real setting? Was there an intention of making the premise seem fresh and meaningful, but in a way that doesn’t hit too close to home?
Ariana Ron Pedrique: That’s a good question. In the middle of the pandemic, it was challenging in many ways, just because, as you know, it’s not easy to shoot a film in the middle of the pandemic. Behind the camera, the production took care of us in such an amazing way. They were doing COVID tests every other day, and no one got sick, that’s why we also kept the shooting down to 13 days, which is insane to do a whole feature film in just 13 days, and to keep the crew and everyone safe. We did it, so I am very happy about that. But it was definitely challenging.
Floyd wanted to touch people’s hearts with this story. He also wanted it to be fresh and original. As a Latina, I’ve never seen a story like this before. I am so I used to seeing the cliche story on the screen. To me, it was such an amazing thing, that he took the time to get to know me and Vilma Vega, and he wanted to tell an authentic and honest story so many people could relate to, not only Latinos.
SH: The trailer for Ayar is quite intense; tell us about the thriller aspect of the movie. Do you think that part of it is used to metaphorically emulate some of the real-life hardships of the pandemic, but in a more extreme manner than what most of us have been experiencing every day?
ARP: There’s so many things happening in the story. The thriller part is definitely a very important part of this story, because my role, Ayar, goes through what’s basically a mental breakdown. So I feel like what he wanted to do was to make you – the viewer – feel what Ayar is feeling during this very emotional high stakes process that she’s going through. It’s definitely disturbing. I would say it’s a mix between drama, thriller, suspense. I feel fear sometimes when I watch it, but at the same time, it’s heartwarming in so many ways, and I blame all that on how genius Floyd is, because he was able to embody all that in the film.
SH: What drew you to this project? Was there a definitive moment when something made you say, “Yes! This role is for me!”?
ARP: The moment I read the logline, I fell in love with it. As an actor, especially as a Latina actor, it’s not easy to find an original story. It’s not easy to find an original character, fully dimensional, bold, different, yet real. And that’s what I felt when I read Ayar‘s logline. I didn’t know who the director was at first. I didn’t know who the casting director was. I just fell in love with the logline and I submitted myself immediately. I just wanted to be part of it.
SH: Is there any part of Ayar as a character that you identify or connect with?
ARP: Oh, for sure. I connect with her in so many levels. At the same time, I feel like we are different. Of course, I connect with her as a dreamer. I connect with her as a Latina. I connect with her as an immigrant, as an outlier because she feels pretty much like an outlier in this world. I connect with her sometimes even with her need of pursuing her dream. I connect with her and how important her family is for her.
SH: Tell us about the cockroach scene. What was it like to face that fear while in character on the job?
ARP: That was challenging. I thought Covid was going to be the only very challenging thing to face during the shoot. I have a very deep phobia with cockroaches. I’ve gone through experiences in my life that I’m not going to tell you about, but that definitely left a stain in my soul. When I was in that scene, at 1:00 AM in the morning, on location, it was the last scene of the day, but one of the most important scenes of the movie, 10 pages long. The director was super excited. I was super excited. Then I get to the set and I start seeing one cockroach and then another and then another and then another. It was very, very challenging. I remember I had to stop for a moment. I went to the bathroom and I was like, “Okay, keep it together, woman, because we’re going to do this. I’m not going to let these cockroaches step in my way of fulfilling my dream.”
Ever since I became an actor more than 10 years ago, I’ve been dreaming of portraying a character like this, so I was not going to let that get in the way, but, it was very challenging. I remember I had to make the decision of using them for the scene since I couldn’t stop thinking about them. They were walking through my speed and I could feel them. They were all over. There was a nest of cockroaches there and no one else seemed to be intimidated by them. I was the only one. It was a very emotional, challenging scene. I had so many emotions that I had to portray. So many things were happening. I had two different monologues. It was a very, very challenging moment, and then I was like, “Okay, I’m just going to use them for the scene.” And it worked, now it’s one of my favorite scenes of the film.
SH: We’ve talked a lot about your new movie, Ayar, but I know that you also starred in the TV series, Rosario Tijeras. Could you tell us a little bit more about that series and your role in it?
ARP: I was a lead antagonist role for Rosario Tijeras. I like to do roles like that for some reason. They’re very fun. To me, it was such an important part of my career. I think that was definitely a breakthrough moment for my career in Latin America, especially in Mexico. Everyone loved the series so much. And to me, it was an amazing experience to be able to work with such an amazing cast, and two great directors. It was definitely a first in my life and in my career and it taught me so much. It was a very long series, but it taught me how to embody characters in a very, very truthful way and take it personally almost, to be able to portray what the character needs in the moment. I’m very grateful for that moment in my life.
SH: Is there anything else that you’re working on or that you have coming up that you’d like our readers to know about?
ARP: Actually, I do. There’s a new film that’s going to be premiering next year. I cannot share any details about it, but we are in the middle of the postproduction process. I’ll tell you all about it whenever I can!