The Katra Film Series in New York City brought out emerging talent from all walks of life for a memorable film fest like none other. In over six years, the Katra Film Series has become a hub for up-and-coming filmmakers of the indie film scene. Filmmakers Soleidy Mendez, Jasmine Romero and Adrienne Lovette were part of this year’s lineup as they showcased their exceptional projects. The good folks at Katra Film Series gave ‘LLERO an all access pass so that we can chat it up with these three very talented and diverse Latina filmmakers about their careers and their projects.
Best known for her role as Sophia on Sesame Street, Jasmine Romero hails from South Central L.A. The daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, Romero found solace from the direful South Central streets in an after school theater program. “I completely fell in love with [theater]. I think that being in a neighborhood that was a little dangerous during the 1990s, the theater program allowed me to find a home and have a place to express everything that I was feeling,” she told ‘LLERO.
Later in life, Romero transitioned from theater to film, coming together with her acting course classmate, Taylor Coriell, to create the comedic web series You’re The Pest, which they showcased at the Katra Film Series. The seven-episode-long series follows the lives of childhood friends Marissa, a former beauty pageant queen, and Alex, an NYPD academy flunkee, as they reunite to run their deceased dads’ exterminator business. Romero and Coriell came up with the storyline after meeting a pair of exterminators and inquiring about the number of women in the extermination industry. To their surprise, the number of female exterminators was virtually non-existent. “A light bulb went off for both of us. We thought, This is a field that’s super underrepresented for women,” Romero explained, adding, “We wanted to write characters that existed in a world where women exist everywhere. You’re The Pest was born out of that idea. They grew up in this because their dads owned the business, so they don’t feel weird around the extermination business. And, it wasn’t only about giving them ownership of that space, but also about making them girls that we recognized.”
With a storyline ready, Romero and Coriell now needed to put together a team to bring their project to fruition. Made up of an almost all-female crew, among the many talented team members brought onboard was director Adrienne Lovette. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the actor, screenwriter, producer, director ventured into the world of acting and directing in a similar way as Romero. Beginning in musical theater while attending the Dr. Phillips High School of Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida, Lovette oftentimes switched from acting onstage to working as part of the crew doing tech work, designing sets and many other crucial off-stage duties. Switching to TV and film wasn’t an easy task for Lovette, though.
“I was always in love with TV and film. One of the reasons why I never pursued it from the get-go was because I was told that because of my look and because of my size that I would never make it in TV and film. Being a Latina woman and plus size there were slim chances at that time that I would be seen or get work,” Lovette said. It took a motivating agent to push Lovette to pursue her passion. “I had an agent who really believed in me and believed that I could be on TV and film as an actor and as a filmmaker, and I booked my first job where I was a strong supporting actor in an indie feature [titled Sunlight Jr.] starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon. That opened my mind, and it also put a stamp on the thought that OK. This is what I should be doing.”
At the time she took on the director role for You’re The Pest, Lovette was pitched some other series to direct, but this one stood out the most to her. “That was the one that stuck out the most, because it was about two women. I liked that it had two female leads, and there’s no love story,” she said, adding, “It’s just them reconnecting as best friends and trying to run a business together. I just loved it. I hadn’t read any shows about women exterminators. I’ve never seen it. This was a different type of show, so I came onboard.”
Another Latina who wowed the audience at the Katra Film Series after the jump…