Sometimes, if you are both talented and lucky, you get a chance to share skill sets that work for different vocations. If you are even more fortunate and skillful, the lines between reality and fiction blur. Such is the case with actress Tsuria Diaz’s work on the production El Octavo Mandiamento. This Epigmenio Ibarra production is based about his real story and experience as a journalist. Epigmenio has serious and interesting stories. He wants to show the Mexican audience, through fiction, how the Mexican government works; specifically, how they should never stay quiet about injustice. El Octavo Mandiamento falls somewhere between TV series and docutmentary. The show is about a family of independent journalists whose matriarch disappears during the 9/11 attacks. As Cecilia Gallardo, Tsuria Diaz portrays a young journalist in charge of the sports department of the family’s newspaper. Cecilia’s personal and professional life are intertwined as her pursuit of the truth concerning political corrupotion puts her family’s safety into question. In much the same way that Cecilia Gallardo throws herself completely into research to discover the truth, Diaz tirelessly researched the “truth” of her character in the show. Both women possess an ease with athletisism and are driven in their professional pursuits. In the same manner that El Octavo Mandiamento crossed lines between news and television drama, Tsuria melded with her character on the show.
Every actor is called to research their role. Some take it deeper than others. With a list of popular productions to her credit (including Me Mueves, Como dice el dicho, Perras, and others) Tsuria took every oppurtunity to prepare for this role as one of the lead actresses in the series. Like her character Cecilia, Diaz shares a natural ability when it comes to athletics. Cecilia is a former professional diver, which is not an area that Tsuria had spent a great deal of time with. Because she felt that so much of how Cecilia approached life was embodied in diving, the actress spent time focusing on her diving and the mental edge and bravery required for this sport. It paid off during the first season of El Octavo Mandiamento during the filming of a harrowing scene in which she saves her best friend Adriana. Diaz explains, “I'm good at sports so that helped. Besides practicing my diving for this scene, I studied a lot of professional diving videos. I wanted to concentrate on my form being instinctual even in a time of panic, just as a professional diver would revert back to their training. Preparing, I went over the scene in my mind to be clear about everything, the cameras, the action, the emotional shock, and what was happening on that moment. All of that preparation for one short scene might seem like a bit much but it really paid off during the shoot because it was very physically difficult and exhausting pulling her [Adriana] out of the pool without reaching the pool’s floor with my feet. For the emotional shock portion, I worked with Isabella Roch (the actress performing as Adriana) building the friendship of the characters and our friendship too. In an even deeper exploration of Cecilia, Tsuria took it upon herself to interview Mexican diving Olympic champion Paola Espinosa in order to fully inhabit her character; once again blurring the lines between real world and fiction.
El Octavo Mandiamento is an Argos Communication production distributed by Cadena Tres and is defiant with its presentation of subject matter that mirrors real life governmental corruption. While almost every country experiences this, not all producers and production companies generate the types of programs which openly present these factors. In a storyline composed specifically for her character, Diaz exposes a case in which the government sports committee in Mexico City faces off against a diver who is the victim of sexual harassment. The story and its steadfast determination to present possible indiscretions resulted in some of the show’s most successful ratings and transmission to more than eleven countries, including the US.
Jose Luis Garcia Agraz (Ariel Award winner and Goya nominated), director of this TV Drama, professes, “Tsuria’s personal research was tirelessly pursued and fully committed. She took it upon herself to do everything she could to become Cecilia Gallardo before we filmed even the very first scene. Some actors like to grow into a character but when an actress like Tsuria shows up completely actualized, it makes everyone’s job so much easier. This is what the greats do. When she did the diving scene to rescue her best friend Adriana it was as if she was a professional diver, we got it in one take. When her character [Cecilia] turns into a journalist and works at the newspaper company, she did a perfect balance between the love story (Ivan-Camila, then Ivan breaking up with Camila and starting a relationship with Cecilia) and the professional journalist who works no matter what to find the truth in Adriana’s case (her best friend who committed suicide because of her dirty business and corruption in Mexico). Also, how she exposed it in the newspaper. Her career, her decisions, and the way Mexico’s corruption works…the character was so accurate!”
It’s ironic that in a show which is based on an industry and professionals who are driven to be suspect (journalists), Tsuria states that her work on the show has taught her to be more trusting…of her director. She reveals, “The long scenes that had a lot of subtext, specially the ones with political content, were difficult at times. The scenes that were not on the script and would be included the same day as they were being filmed…it's not usual but it's often an unexpected scene included in the break of the day. Jose Luis Garcia Agraz is such a talented director that you learn that even though it may not have felt perfect to you, he can see how everything is working and knows when it’s right. It’s important as a professional to let certain things go and trust in the other talented people around you. Being surrounded by immensely talented people, that’s a pretty comfortable place for me to be.” Tsuria considers her work on El Octavo Mandiamento to be one of the highlights of her career. She confesses, “The reaction from all sides was overwhelming. The public, friends, and family, all really loved it. I never lose sight of the fact that I get to spend my life doing this thing that touches so many people…it makes me very happy.”