America Ferrera was just 17 when she filmed the now iconic film Real Women Have Curves (2002) and the powerful feel continues to resonate with viewers decades later. The groundbreaking movie made history in 2019 when it was added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress and as a result, director Patricia Cardoso — who is Colombian — became the first Latina to be included in the registry. Now it’s making its way onto the Broadway stage as Barry and Fran Weissler—producers of the hit musical Waitress—are working on a musical adaptation. Forbes reported the adaptation is going to be directed by Tony Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo who won a Tonya award for his work on Ain’t Too Proud about Motown group, The Temptations. Trujillo’s Tony win made history as he was the first Latinx recipient of the Tony Award for Best Choreography. Additionally, the music and lyrics for the stage production will be created by Grammy-winning Mexican duo Jesse & Joy who recently came out with “Tanto” with Luis Fonsi and “Llórale A Tu Madre”. The strong Latinx presence behind the scenes is because of Trujillo’s intention to tell Latino stories, he told Forbes.
“What Real Women Have Curves does is reminds me of all the Latin women in my life … who fought and worked so hard in their lives for me to be able to get to do these things,” he added. He felt the women reflected his own mother who came from Colombia and worked as a seamstress and worked in a factory like the mom in the film and “made the sacrifices, so that I can have the life that I’ve had,” he continued.
The is based on a 1987 play by formerly undocumented Chicana playwright Josefina Lopez and follows the coming-of-age story of Ana, an East LA Mexican-American girl who struggles with the expectations placed on her by her mother, Carmen, and her desire to attend college. Some of the common themes of the film revolve around body image, community, and family dynamics, especially between mothers and daughters. Its nuanced portrayal of Latina women and Los Angeles made it a groundbreaking film especially in terms of Latinx representation in cinema.
The film is a landmark film in Latinx cinema as it is one of few films to break through conventional storytelling while centering on a community often left out of the media. At the time of its release we didn’t see nearly the level of representation in Hollywood we see now and that’s not to say we see much today but progress has been made. The origins of the play stem from Lopez’s desire to feel seen and humanized after more than a decade of being undocumented so to see something that came from such a personal place turned into a musical is monumental for our community.
“Men write the roles and direct the movies [so I had] to adhere to those standards; otherwise, I’d always play the side character. I thought, ok, if I lose the weight, then I’m going to be told by casting people that I should change my name [to] a white name, change my hair color… if I do this, I’m going to have to give up who I am to be an actress. I refused to do that. The problem isn’t that I’m undocumented, Mexican, working class, or overweight; the problem is society,” Lopez previously told Entertainment Weekly.
No dates have been provided for when it’ll reportedly make its Broadway debut but if it does, it would likely make history as the first Broadway musical with a Latinx director, bookwriter, lyricist, and composer.