It is our utmost pleasure to introduce to you yet another captivating artist. Born and raised in Cali, Colombia, this Afro-Latina actress has been captivating audiences with her amazing performances on screen, as well as her stellar work behind the camera. With her unique blend of talent, beauty, and charm, Loren is definitely making her presence felt in the industry. So without further ado, check out our interview with Loren Escandón.
SFND MAG: Hi Loren. So nice to meet you. We appreciate you for taking the time to interview with So FN Dope Magazine. How are you? Please tell us a little about yourself.
LOREN: Well, My name is Loren Escandón and I am originally from Colombia. I am an actress, writer, producer and director, and I wear all the hats necessary to do stories. So that’s me. [LAUGHS]
SFND MAG: That is amazing. Tell us a little about what inspired you initially to pursue a career in acting.
LOREN: Well, my artistic career started way before. I started as a ballerina initially. When I was like eight, my mom came home and said "Oh you are going to go and audition for the Ballet School.” I was like “ What is ballet?” I didn’t even know. I understood later on that it was her way to remove me from the very challenging environment of our neighborhood. I grew up in a very impoverished area in Cali, Colombia during the cartel generation, so it was a rough time to be there. But, that was my mom’s way of keeping me from having any time to do anything else. So I became a ballerina first. I was in school there for eight years. I went to the ballet company and when my body and knees gave out I decided that I wanted to audition for the theater school in college. So that’s where my acting career started. I had teachers coming from Russia, Canada, China and Cuba… all of them well-trained in the Stanislavski method. That was kind of the beginning of my acting career and then as soon I graduated I moved to New York to do theater. Then I did my transition here to Los Angeles to begin film.
SFND MAG: What a story! Well, we’ve been checking up on you and throughout your career, you have played a diverse range of characters and made many guest appearances on several popular TV series’. Of those roles, which ones would you say has been the most rewarding and challenging for you, and why?
LOREN: Oh god. I feel like this is one of those questions like “Who is your favorite kid.” You can’t choose. [LAUGHS]
SFND MAG: [LAUGHS] That is the perfect answer.
LOREN: Every character comes with its own set of challenges and it comes teaching you so much. So I feel like what has happened for me from the role that had one line to the role to the recurring role. Every role has come to me to teach me a lesson, not just about the art, but about myself and my own humanity and my own capacity of empathy. Because that is the exercise as an actress creating this space and this field where you become something that is just asleep within you but it is a part of you and how you awaken that part of you. So I love Gabriella from The Messengers. She was my first character ever on TV. So navigating a TV set, which is like a whole other world for people that are not familiar. It’s like a whole zoo happening. With Gabriella everything was super exciting and fascinating. With my latest, with Ximena Morales for Casa Grande coming soon May 1st, it’s different because I have a little more on set wisdom because I myself sometimes jump behind the camera. I kind of know a little bit of the dynamics of both, but Ximena is such a great combo between me and my mom. That is the way I created her, so exploring that motherhood from the perspective of my own mother is something that has taught me so much about my own way of seeing through that lens… raising someone, the sacrifices our parents make. So each character is different. It’s just unique and beautiful and a great experience to have.
SFND MAG: Well, that sounds wonderful. I think you take your personal experiences into each character that you embody. That’s amazing because it shows. So we understand that you are also a heck of a director and writer as well. Do you like being behind the lens just as much as acting?
LOREN: Oh wow! I love both equally, because they bring me two different ways of seeing and ways of creating. I jumped behind the camera precisely because I found that it was very hard to find the characters that I really wanted to play. So I decided to start writing characters that I would want to play and I would like my friends to play that really represent the way that I see the world and the way that society works that is far from the stereotypes. It has allowed me to have stories that are universal and connect to everyone regardless of race, but from the lens of an Afro-Latina of course because that is my lens. So that is the reason why I jump behind the lens. And in that process that I just discovered it is such a collaborative effort to do any kind of filming… any kind of TV… an episode… a ten minute short. It takes a village. And just being able to collaborate with so many minds and so many perspectives, I feel like it expanded my heart, my soul, my brain. It has expanded to allow people to see the story that I wrote from so many different perspectives and prints and colors. and I love the collaborative spirit of being a director, because at the end of the day the way that I handle my set is “ I am the director and I have the last word but I do not believe in hierarchy. We are all a fundamental part of the puzzle in order to tell the story. So I feel like creating those playgrounds for everyone to feel free in their creativity is the most rewarding thing.
SFND MAG: You know everything that you are saying is so humbling and it is beautiful to see in an Afro-Latina doing her thing. It’s amazing to see because you are paving the way for many generations to come.
LOREN: But at the same time, I’m standing on the shoulders of so many. Right? I think about Rosie Perez, I think about Gina Torres, I think about Zoe Saldana. What I feel about them, besides gratitude and admiration is the fact that they have had very limited opportunities to play Afro-Latinas. They have been playing African Americans, or black people, but the lens of latinidad is almost being removed from their careers not because of their own choice but because there are no parts for us out there. Or very limited. We’re stepping out in the right direction. We are all making an effort. But let’s open this space where our lenses are actually the primary focus of how we tell the story.
SFND MAG: Well about your story. Tell us about the recent film you directed entitled Los Patines. We would love to hear that story.
LOREN: Well, Los Patines is a very personal story. It is based on my mother’s childhood experience as a domestic slave. It is interesting, because my goal with that was to try to recognize the conversation of slavery. Now we feel like the slavery was abolished from The Constitution but slavery has just mutated into something else. It has permeated different fields. But my mom was…if you asked her… she would say that she was a domestic slave. That is who she was from her earliest memories. So that was a story that was very important for me to tell, but not just as a love letter to my mother but as a reminder that slavery is a very active way of how economic systems work. And slavery is not just exclusive to black people but it happens all around the world in different fields and I just wanted to ignite that conversation with that story. And yes, I think I did really good. [LAUGHS]
SFND MAG: Yes you did! You won several awards including Best Latino Short at the San Pedro International Film Festival as well as Best Latino Short and Director at NYC Downtown Short Film Festival. You also won Best Screenplay at the Panamanian International Film Festival/LA. What does it mean to you, as an Afto-Latina to be recognized for your craft as well as a creative?
LOREN: I think that the reason is not even because the film was that “amazing”. It is mostly because it has a lot of art and I think that when you do things with a lot of art, people just connect at a level that they can not explain in reviews, but they just feel that they want to be a part of the project or the story, or the outcome of the conversation. It is all about the conversation for me. I don’t really want to impose a way of thinking to anybody. I just want someone to go watch a film that I did, or I wrote or directed and I just want them to feel something. What it is…I don’t care. I just want them to feel something. I think that once you connect with your feelings as an audience, that is the most giving moment that anyone can give you.
SFND MAG: You mentioned that you were from Cali, Colombia. How has your cultural background influenced your approach to acting, and do you feel a sense of responsibility to represent the community that you grew up in your roles?
LOREN: Yes, of course. There are two parts of me that coexist. It is the fact that I’m Black and the fact that I am Latina. My blackness is my race and forms me and my way of thinking and creating art in one way and then I have my Colombian roots forms my stories equally. I feel that in a sense now the process and the path is trying to bring those experiences of life through that lens and those colors to the story telling. I was having this conversation the other day with this manager and upon introduction, he says ”Oh you don’t look Colombian”. So I say “Oh, have you been to Colombia”? and he responds “No”. I’m like so… I don’t look like “your” idea of Colombian, but I look Colombian. [LAUGHS] But I don’t blame him because in a sense, entertainment in our industry has a responsibility to be mirroring society. How we look… how we think… what we are… who we are…. The representation of Latinos is very limited, not just limited by numbers, but limited by colors and cultures. We are always portrayed in this kind of homogeneous bag when actually we are so many countries with so many with so many races. We are multicultural, so I don’t blame him, but the goal is for him to never introduce himself and say “You don’t look like…” Because we look like everything and sound like everything. We have different accents and we use different words and dialects. So I think that my responsibility as an artist, actress, and creator is to bring some sort of fairness to the representation of my personal culture but also to the culture around us. The fact that we are very proud of our roots , doesn’t mean that we are discarding the other ones. It does not mean that an afro-latina can not be at the same table as a Mexican Indigenous. We all live together in this world. So I think that once your identity is very clear, it helps to build bridges for others to see the spectrum that is wider and bigger than we can imagine.
SFND MAG: Absolutely, so what advice would you give to young women of color who are aspiring to pursue a career in acting?
LOREN: To prepare a lot… To be patient… But to fight hard. Don’t take just anything that comes your way. I know that sometimes desperation creeps up. We all have to pay the bills and make a living, but I think that once we stop saying yes to those very stereotypical characters, they will be forced to either make us part of the conversation or stop portraying us that way.
SFND MAG: I love that. That is beautiful. What can you tell us about your upcoming projects? Any new and exciting roles?
LOREN: I have two things happening. I am in pre production for a film I’m going to do in Colombia. So I am very excited to go back to my country and work with the local people. That is a film called Gris and it is a live action animation short film based on my experience as a biracial kid. I like working with kids and kid stories because you are less defensive when a kid is telling you things. I also have a project on Freevee on May 1st called Casa Grande and it is this amazing limited series. It is pretty much the dynamics between the haves and the have nots. There is a super diverse cast. Half of us are Latinos and we are all from different parts of Latin America. The story happens on this farm where the bosses are pretty much making a small fortune off the backs of people like me and my cast members. And it has all the dynamics of love and loyalty and betrayal and support. But what is so cool about that show is that it really mirrors so many things that are happening around the world in so many environments. Seriously it truly is a pleasure and I hope that everyone goes and watches it on May 1st.
SFND MAG: How can our readers reach you on Social Media?
LOREN: Oh… My name. Loren Escandón. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter. I took over the name [LAUGHS]
SFND MAG: Before you go, name another actor who you would describe as So FN Dope, and tell us why?
LOREN: Oh my god… Just one? The other ones are going to kill me. I’m going to say my dear friend, amazing actress, and kick ass woman Vanessa Rubio from Cobra Kai.
SFND MAG: Awesome, Well, once again, thank you Loren for interviewing with us. This has been such an absolute pleasure.