In today’s world, there are many roads a young girl can take to reach her goals. Many little girls dream of becoming a ballerina, a veterinarian, a rock star, or an actress; the best way to go about these artistic aspirations is to first get a bachelor’s degree in physiological science. Well not exactly, but that’s the road Latina actress Yvette Yates took to become the well-rounded individual she is today. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Yates to talk about her career, her background and her representation of Latinas.
Yates met with Latinitas when she took time from her busy acting career to visit her hometown of El Paso for Hispanic Heritage month. With a strong commitment to giving back, she dedicated her time back home to speaking at high schools, churches, theatre groups, the film commission and discussion panels at El Paso Community College. Yates spoke about the role of Hispanics in the movie industry and how they survive and thrive in the business. Supporting her local film community, Yates was also a special guest at the movie premier of Bless Me Ultima at the Plaza Theater. She is also currently part of the on-going charity program called Unite Me Now.
Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Yates had the traditional border town family upbringing and is now an American proud of her Mexican heritage. Yates attended Loretto, the local all girls Catholic school, which paved the way for her to attend the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA. What really got her film career going was her job at a production agency. Although her family was under the impression that she was going to do something in the medical field, they were extremely supportive and created a strong foundation for her new beginnings. Yates started with short films and landed the lead role for Nina Quebrada, which won Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and a nomination at the Imagen Awards. Later, she moved to bigger films and worked alongside Anna Paquin and Eva Longoria, among others. In her latest movie, El Gringo, she was able to work with Christian Slater and Scott Adkins. With this film, among many others, Yates says she wants to spread knowledge about the Hispanic culture.
I asked Yates if she had ever been typecast or stereotyped in Hollywood or if she has seen these actions, and she answered, “directors put out descriptions of a character and your managers or agents decide what is best for you. In El Gringo, they wanted me to have a thick Mexican accent because my character was from a border town.” Yates explained to the producers that she was also from a border town and had the ability to speak perfect English and Spanish. Yates mentioned how Latina characters are usually asked to provide an accent but sometimes “they’ll (writers, producers, directors) mold the character around the actor.”
When asked who her inspirations were, or her dream film cast, Yates named Meryl Streep and Marion Cotillard. She explained how they are both able to act out emotions and use their body language to communicate with the audience, and that is something she appreciates in actors. Yates also mentioned Lupe Ontiveros who recently died of cancer, but played a very important role for the Latin community in Hollywood. Ontiveros played hundreds of maids and not one judge, but she played the role of a maid with the respect and dignity real housekeepers deserve. Yates said she had the opportunity to go to Ontiveros’s funeral. “Sometimes you create an image as an actor but you try to open up and play other parts, sometimes they have nothing to do with being a Latina,” shared Yates of the acting roles available to Latinas. “It just goes back to those who created the roles, and how you approach the role, no matter how small.”
“Learn as much as you can in the field,” added Yates about her advice for our young Latinitas who want to make their own career in the acting field. “Learn every facet and understand the whole film process to better prepare for the audition or interview, they will notice. Continue to be consistent with your work and challenge yourself.” Her advice to help out those who are a little more discouraged with their trials was, “don’t limit yourself, be prepared until the right role fits, the look, the feel; focus on your work or craft. Certain characters speak to you and it’s the most amazing feeling ever. We are our own obstacles, give it your best.”
On using her resources, Yates added, “Network, the people you’re around are your support system. Share, use social media and people to help you further your career.”On her last thoughts, Yates mentioned how she would love to do family movies. She highlighted that the movies she has chosen mostly try to send out a message and that most of her films have no nudity. Seeing as though she is extremely family oriented and loves her hometown, she is a Latina talent who should be appreciated.