As an actress, Juliana Betancourth gets to live a different life with each new role, grasping a new aspect of humanity with every character she portrays. As a citizen of the world, she likes to experience as much as she can, and acting allows her to do just that, transforming personalities, professions, cultures, and more, bringing it all to life as truthfully as she can. She aims to move her audience emotionally and spiritually with her performances, and as an industry-leading actress in her home of Colombia, she does just that.
“This is my art. This is my passion. It moves my soul, and I hope I can move others during this time of magic and creation,” she said.
Betancourth is known for her versatility and authenticity in her performances, which is evident in all of her work. Productions like the award-winning film Therapy, the hit series Bite!, and the acclaimed film Virginia Casta, among many others, show audiences all over the world just what she is capable of.
Betancourth is often surrounded by the industry’s best when she embarks on a new project. With the telenovela La Reina del Sur, Betancourth co-starred with Kate del Castillo, one of the most celebrated actresses in Latin America.
“Kate is a wonderful woman, her dedication and passion; the arduous hours of work on set were to be admired. As an acting partner, I could not have asked more of her. We agreed to make the scene as good as possible, we trained for the action scenes, we had long and cold days, but even so, our attitude was always the best. Kate is a woman with character, with a strong personality, but always kind and willing to help. Together with the other actresses, we created a very professional and friendly work environment,” said Betancourth.
La Reina del Sur (in English The Queen of the South) follows the character of Teresa Mendoza, a naive woman and girlfriend of a Mexican involved in drug trafficking, who becomes the leader of a drug cartel. The story is based on the book by Arturo Perez Reverte, a great Spanish writer.
“Despite the fact that the main character ends up being one of the most important drug traffickers in the world, the story does not focus on that. Rather it is about a normal woman who had to go through many difficult and unfair circumstances that led her to make unconventional decisions. It is a story of human beings trapped by circumstances,” said Betancourth.
In the show, Betancourth plays the pivotal role of Charito, who maintains a close relationship with Teresa, played by del Castillo, and other actors in this production, supporting them in this new release.
Charito, a Spanish gypsy in prison, is a sensitive character, friendly, kind, but at the same time, brave. She had to survive in prison and defend her friends, and for that she had to fight to the death. In the first season, Charito helped Teresa survive her bitter experience in prison. Charito did everything for Teresa, from washing her clothes or preparing her birthday party to getting rid of any enemies she might have in prison.
Teresa needed that support in prison to survive. It is a decisive moment for the protagonist. The whole story has a before and after, and without Charito, she could not have left prison or have the strength to go out and fight her enemies. Charito also supports other characters such as Conejo (Carmen Navarro) and Patricia (Cristina Urgel) whose lives also depend on the mission she has to protect them.
As Charito is a Spanish gypsy, which is a very particular culture, Betancourth had to extensively research her role. She learned everything she could about her character’s music, her dress, accent, and all the pain that gypsies have gone through generationally. Betancourth not only changed her native accent to play a Spanish gypsy, but also trained physically for the scenes of fights in prison.
“I loved working on this. From the magnitude of the project to the cooperation with my colleagues, especially with Kate del Castillo with whom I had a great affinity, it was a great experience. Work with many women actresses of various nationalities, be rivals on stage, but friends in life,” said Betancourth. “I also traveled back to Colombia specifically to do this project, so it was a great excuse to see my friends, family and fellow Colombian actors again.”
La Reina del Sur has been one of the most important projects of Betancourth’s career, with a $10 million budget, the second most expensive telenovela ever produced by Telemundo. An English language remake, Queen of the South, premiered in June 2016 on USA Network. After the great reception of the first season on Netflix, this super production already has its second season and will premiere on Netflix on April 22nd, where the first season is already available. Over 139 million people use Netflix worldwide according to CNN, and the show has had a great and lasting impact on the Latin American community for being so new. Betancourth is thrilled to be a part of it.
“Every time someone sees me in the multiple repetitions in all countries and platforms where this series has been presented, they send me a photo, comment on my character and applaud my work ... that is the greatest satisfaction. Charito is a character much loved by the millions of fans of the series. It has opened me many doors to other projects, has catapulted me as an international actress, capable of making characters, from other countries, cultures, and accents,” she said.
La Reina del Sur is available on Netflix around the world.
Photo by Vinny Randazzo