Legendary actor Esai Morales (Ozark, NYPD Blue) is the patriarch of a bizarre family living just south of the US border in The Wall Of Mexico, a film directed by Zachary Colter and Magdalena Zyzak with surreal, mythical, and geopolitical themes flowing through its runtime.
Don (Jackson Rathbone) is the new handyman at the Arista’s large home, a Mexican-American family with a well that some believe may have unique properties. Don’s job is mostly unremarkable until he meets Tania (Marisol Sacramento and Carmela Zumbado’s Ximena. Don’s captivated by the alluring women, but his whole world begins to crumble as the need to build a wall arises.
PopAxiom spoke with Carmela Zumbado about becoming an actor and playing the cold, almost alien Ximena in The Wall Of Mexico.
East To West
Carmela is originally from Miami, Florida, and grew up just slightly north in Weston. She lives out in Los Angeles but was visiting her father back on the east coast. “My sister and I are driving back to LA, so it’s a good time to chat with people on the phone.”
Carmela’s road to becoming an on-screen entertainer began at an early age. “My sisters and I were always performing for our family members. We did dance shows and talent shows. We were always in love with performing. We did theatre in high school.”
“We decided to make careers out of it,” Carmela says of herself and her acting siblings. “We built up several small credits in Florida, and Georgia then made the move to Los Angeles. Things took off from there.”
About The Wall Of Mexico
Carmela’s young career includes appearances on My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Magicians, and the hit Netflix series You. “My agent sent me the script,” says of her introduction to The Wall Of Mexico, “and I thought it was so cool and refreshing to read.”
The Wall Of Mexico is a film that knows what it wants to be from start to finish. “It breaks a lot of stereotypes and commonalities that we see portrayed by Latin people in TV and film. It was an artful script, and I loved reading it and the characters.”
The next stupid involved a “read with Marisol,” Carmela says, then declares, “they loved us.”
Carmela’s voice and energy through the phone are vibrant. She’s the type of person who is happy to feel a range of emotions. However, Ximena Arista could not be more different. How did Ximena come to be? “We talked a lot about Ximena’s backstory, what she did prior to the film; a lot of lounging around and doing cocaine while contemplating different philosophical theories.”
The Aristas are a wealthy family. “Because of her wealth, she was able to receive a solid education and traveled to Europe and received an extensive world-view by observing different cultures.”
“She reminds me of a cyborg,” Carmela says with a laugh, “who operates on the basics of logic and isn’t motivated by emotion.”
Carmela discussed her character of Ximena a lot with co-director and writer Zachary Cotler, “She’s not what you normally see represented as a Latin woman in TV and film.”
Carmela explains, “A lot of times I get auditions for roles that’s just the stereotypical Latina woman, sexy, and a bombshell or a cartel wife.” However, Ximena, though portrayed by the stunning Carmela, is “none of those things. She doesn’t lead with her sexuality. She has no sense of awareness of her presence sexually or interested in other people sexually.”
Mentions of robots and cyborgs come up repeatedly when talking with Carmela about her character in The Wall Of Mexico. “Thinking of her as a robot leads to her eccentricities and some of the nuances that came up naturally.”
The Wall Of Mexico is a mysterious film that centers around possibly magical water. “You can formulate your thoughts. It’s not very on-the-nose. The movie doesn’t tell you what to think.”
“We knew. But it’s also kind of whatever you surmount it to be. Reality is whatever truth you make it to be.”
Carmela’s life-long love with entertainment is deeply rooted in her family. “I’m inspired by all of my family members and my ancestors. I’m lucky that my father’s mother was able to leave behind some very old family photos and mementos of our culture. She was from Colombia and moved to Cuba to marry my grandfather. They’ve always bestowed upon my sisters and me different relics of family history. I’m so inspired by being able to honor those who came before me. I think art is a beautiful way to do that.”
Carmela’s only 22 deep into her IMDB credits. What does she want to do next? “I’d like to do anything funny or a period piece where I get to travel back in time. Or a musical; I would pick West Side Story, but they already got that in production.” She laughs, “I did not get that role!”
The Wall Of Mexico is available digitally on Amazon. What’s next for Carmela? “Next up, I got to film a Christmas movie that’ll be out in December. It’s called White Elephant. It’s a romantic-comedy Christmas movie.”
Is Wall Of Mexico on your watch list?
Thanks to Carmela Zumbado and October Coast
for making this interview possible.