By BILL HARRIS
Special to The Lede
Mishel Prada and Ser Anzoategui from the critically acclaimed STARZ series VIDA made their first visit to Canada on Wednesday, and they’re convinced that their show, despite being L.A.-specific, has big-time universal appeal.
“I think it’s important for everyone to be fully immersed in VIDA, and this is part of the first international step forward that STARZ is doing, so I’m so excited,” said Anzoategui, who plays Eddy. Anzoategui and Prada, who plays Emma, were in Toronto to promote VIDA - both seasons of which are now streaming on Crave - and to participate in the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival.
“It’s great to be making something that hopefully can help people breathe better and be more authentically who they are - that’s the dream,” said Prada. “As an artist, it’s important for us to reflect the times. It’s truly an honour to be part of something that I think is doing that.”
“It’s historical,” added Anzoategui.
In the brand-new second season of VIDA, Mexican-American sisters Emma (Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera) begin the monumental task of rebuilding their late mother Vida's business, while navigating financial constraints, competing developers, and the growing anti-gentrification movement in L.A.’s Eastside. They also have complicated feelings toward Eddy (Anzoategui), who was married to their mother, although neither Emma nor Lyn knew about it until after their mother was gone.
A big question emerges in Season 2: was the marriage between Vida and Eddy actually legally registered, or did they merely have a ceremony? And if the marriage isn’t technically legal, how does that impact Vida’s will, which has created an uncomfortable business partnership between Emma, Lyn, and Eddy?
“I think there’s something really beautiful about looking at these people who are grieving so differently,” Prada said. “They should be able to be there for each other, but because they grew up so differently, there’s a loneliness that each of them is experiencing. They’re all in the same room experiencing the same kind of trauma, but in very different ways.
“That ties right into identity, and the ways you choose to present yourself to the world, versus who you really are. These characters have crafted a very particular view and a look that they present to the world, especially in terms of how they are accepted in the dominant culture. But we get to see what’s behind that, and empathize with them. There’s also the question of, what is Latina enough? Who is the police of that?”
Anzoategui said another big theme in VIDA is the concept of “home,” and what that means to different people.
“Sometimes you can be from a place, but you don’t really feel like you’re from there,” said Anzoategui. “Or you leave where you’re from, but then you miss where you’re from. And also building a family, sometimes it isn’t just blood, it’s chosen, too. Finding a network that will support you throughout your life is something that so many people, of any age, will understand.”
VIDA certainly has given Prada pause to consider how we all evaluate our own parents.
“God forbid if our parents ever had a bad year, when maybe they were depressed, or they had times where they thought, ‘Why did I become a parent?’ ” Prada said. “We blame them for everything for the rest of our lives! ‘You’re the reason that I’m screwed up!’
“But (the Vida character) is like the wind, right? You see the effects of her, and each person has experienced her very differently. And none of those people are wrong, those were all parts of her, she wasn’t all good or all bad, and that is her legacy.”