Fleeing to Success By Connor Judson Ga r re t t
A ctress, director, writer, producer, and Renaissance woman Armida Lopez is set to star in the semi- autobiographical short film, which she also directed and produced, Made in America . Adamant about inclusivity in her project, Lopez employed a diverse crew (in front of and behind the camera) to bring her own triumphant immigrant tale to life. Lopez and her family fled El Salvador when she was 8 years old during the El Salvadoran civil war. Eventually, they planted roots in Sacramento, California and had to rebuild their lives from the ground up. “Coming from a different country, the move was difficult as we were middle class back home and had to restart our lives. My mom was a lawyer in El Salvador but couldn’t practice in the US. We moved to the states and she had to work three jobs, while I had to learn how to hustle and make money from a very young age,” says Lopez. In school, she was fascinated by the arts, and even wrote a book as a young girl, which her mother treasures to this day. But the reality was that her struggling family depended on her being excellent. Her humble beginnings fueled her desire to transcend her circumstances. Lopez threw herself with full force and full passion into free classes and workshops in school that developed her singing and dancing abilities and, later on in high school, her acting skills. Determined not to let her acting dreams end in school, Lopez took jobs as a barista, waitress, and makeup artist before interning for KCRA - TV.
I think right now the only way to change that is for us to lead by example. The industry needs more women doing sound, gaffing, lightning, and telling stories.” Lopez kept Made in America nearly identical to the real-life journey of struggle and triumph she and her mother took. “Directing and writing was the toughest part. You’re so connected to the story, so of course it’s emotional and you want to tap into it and be in the moment, but you still need to direct,” says Lopez. “I would like for audiences to get a different story about immigrants. The media is often complicit in this image of the immigrant coming to take or grab resources. A lot of times, like my mother and I, they’re just coming to try to excel. “This film is special to me because on the flipside, we get to see a citizen helping immigrants as well. I think it’s good to show the heart that exists in both walks of life and for people to see how things come full circle. Every pre-screening, my viewers have shed tears, so I’m excited to see the impact this film will have.”
Photo by Alex Stone
for the underrepresented. In the wake of the disastrous Category 5 Hurricane Maria that ravaged Puerto Rico, she went out of pocket and produced and directed a short, Minutes, Hours, Days, to give a glimpse of the real events live and on the ground. “I wanted people to see the other side. Were they really getting help down there or not?” says Lopez. “I think it has prepared me to make Made in America because we had a smaller team with less experience, and I saw how so much of the filming actually boils down to post-production and editing. With Made in America, my vision was to have an all-women/diverse crew for the entire production, however I did hire diverse men for the on- screen roles. My hope is that we see more women behind the camera in what’s still a very male-dominated industry.
“I never knew I would be a storyteller,” she says. “I started as a news reporter intern and I thought that’s what I wanted to do, but I had some chances to get behind the lens and really fell in love with filmmaking, too.” One of Lopez’s first breakthroughs was landing a position as a body double for Salma Hayek in How to be a Latin Lover , which led to campaigns for brands such as Nike, Burger King, Proactiv, Subaru, Modelo, and Ulta beauty. She will also soon be seen in the Joe Carnahan time-loop thriller Boss Level , alongside Frank Grillo, Mel Gibson, and Naomi Watts. Piggybacking off of her continual rise as an actress, Lopez has taken it upon herself to serve as a champion
@thearmidalopez | @madeinamericafilm
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