Some of us are just born to do something creative, and Carmela Zumbado has felt it in her soul for years. Beginning in her youth, she was attracted to dance, theater, and music. Taking her interest to the next level, she would go on to a career in film and television with spots on popular series such as Scream, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, NCIS: New Orleans, as well as Netflix’s Thriller You. Most recently starring in the compelling new film The Wall of Mexico, Zumbado is looking to take her career to the next level in a big way.
Released in virtual theaters on September 18th, and On Demand October 13th, Zumbado works alongside a star-studded cast in The Wall of Mexico that includes Jackson Rathbone, Esai Morales, and Xander Berkeley. A story that provokes deeper thought in a time of tension in America, the talented actress recently sat down to chat about The Wall of Mexico, her past and future projects, views on the world today, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been acting professionally in film/television for nearly a decade now. Briefly tell us, what inspired you to pursue a career as an actress?
Carmela Zumbado – I am one of three sisters and we have always been really into performing since the time we were young. Performance of all types; dance, theater, etc. In high school I had a really great drama teacher named Mr. Flynn and he was one of the first people that really saw something in me; he made me feel like I was good at acting. Ever since then I’ve felt really encouraged and felt like I really love being able to entertain an audience. Obviously that came from theater, but it later on translated into TV and film. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to make a career out of it.
Cryptic Rock – It has been a growing success for you, as well. Among many things, you have been on the Netflix series You and play a big role in the new feature film The Wall of Mexico. You have worked in many different types of genres. What do you take away from these experiences?
Carmela Zumbado – I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to go all across the board to delve into different styles and genres. I’m really up for whatever happens to come next; I think something I would really like to do is Comedy. You was really dark, The Wall of Mexico can be really heavy intellectually, so I think it would be fun to do something more light-hearted and comedic next.
Cryptic Rock – That would be cool to see. The Wall of Mexico was initially released at SXSW in 2019, and now it gets a broader release in October of 2020. How did the project come about for you?
Carmela Zumbado – My agent sent me the script and I loved it immediately. All the colors that you see in the film and the beautiful visual images were really there on people, as well. It read really well and I was completely entranced by the writing of Zachary Cotler. I feel like the stars aligned and they offered me the role after meeting with them and doing the chemistry read with Marisol Sacramento, she plays my sister Tania. That is where it took off.
Cryptic Rock – You and everyone else did a great job with their roles. There is a great cast of actors and actresses in this film. What was it like working with everyone involved with this film?
Carmela Zumbado – It was really a wonderful learning opportunity. People like Esai Morales, Alex Meneses, as well as Xander Berkeley have been doing this for a while and it was great to be able to learn from them. I’ve also really admired Moises Arias and his work. It was totally an education to be able to share scenes with them. At the same time, they are just wonderful people on the inside. I was very fortunate to be able to spend close time with them.
Cryptic Rock – The chemistry between the entire cast works. The story is quite heavy and is very reflective of what we are going through right now. What did you take away from this script and playing this character?
Carmela Zumbado – I love all the images the film presents of barriers, not just physical barriers but all that divide us, such as mental, social, economic, or emotional ones. I think physically and metaphorically there is a lot to ponder there as to why sometimes we feel gratification when we are able to bar ourselves off from others. Again, whether that is emotional, societal, or class wise… Why do we sometimes feel gratification for that, whether we are conscience of it or not? That’s what really drew me into the script, this motif of being separated. This was pre-COVID-19, so it just doubly applies now. It’s something to ponder, question, and potentially change within ourselves.
Cryptic Rock – Agreed. What is interesting is most of the film was in Mexico. This is quite ironic because it is an American film, but made in Mexico, like many things.
Carmela Zumbado – (Laughs) Yeah! The blending of a Mexican and American crew to make it all happen was one of the greatest rewards of it. Politically, yes, we are divided and barred from each other at times. But art will always be something that can unite different cultures and different types of people. That is why it was really a beautiful experience to be able to work down there.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a great experience. What also works with The Wall of Mexico is, while the message is heavy, it is also entertaining. The message is subtle.
Carmela Zumbado – Yes, I think it’s really not on the noise. I think a lot of ideas are presented in a way where you can sit with them. You can come to your own terms without something be forced upon you or told what you should think about a specific idea.
Cryptic Rock – Exactly. The film was received well at SXSW in 2019, but have you received any feedback since the broader release on October 9th?
Carmela Zumbado – What’s been great is to see many different perspectives on certain ideas that are posed within the film. Not everybody interprets them the same way. It is really exciting for me to see how certain people interpret representation such as the well water or this micro nation that the film exists within itself. That is what I love about it: I’ve seen a plethora of different interpretations of the many motifs within this film. Sometimes it’s not consistent person to person, but I think that’s the beauty of it all.
Cryptic Rock – Right. That is what is great, and that is what is great about people being different. As you said, a lot of ways many of us block ourselves off from others. Nowadays it seems many of us want everyone to think like us. That is not good; we have to be able to think different, regardless if we agree with someone else or not. That is what makes the world go round.
Carmela Zumbado – You’re right. It’s so primal and archaic to be threatened by something that you’re not used to or unexpected. I think that dates back to a caveman mentality of being able to defend yourself, almost as a survival mechanism. As we evolve as human kind I think it’s important to be able rewire ourselves, embrace that which is different and not be afraid. That is on both sides of the aisle, and not just in the sense of an aisle politically, but just not to be afraid of that which challenges us.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. It is about accepting each other’s differences. You learn something different from someone else, wherever they’re from. When you travel the world you see that, you learn not everyone lives the same way; everyone has different cultural aspects that you absorb. It just makes life richer.
Carmela Zumbado – That’s right. That’s a beautiful way to put!
Cryptic Rock – With The Wall of Mexico, what else do you have coming up?
Carmela Zumbado – I was just able to shoot a quarantine-style film. It’s actually a Christmas Romantic Comedy called White Elephant; it’s really fun and light-hearted. We were able to shoot it quarantine-style in three days! I don’t know how it was as successful a production as it was, but our director Corey Moss made it happen. That’s something that should be out toward the end of the year.
Cryptic Rock – That is something to look out for. You mentioned you would like to do more Comedy. What are some of your personal favorite Comedy films?
Carmela Zumbado – I love Will Farrell type Comedies. I love silly, light-hearted, really fun, and high energy comedic pieces. My favorite things to watch are films like Bridesmaids or Anchorman. I like films that make you feel good and provide a little escape. We definitely all need a laugh right about now.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, 2020 has been quite a year. We have the COVID-19 situation and the social unrest. Unfortunately, the social issues have existed for a while, but now people are finally being confronted with it.
Carmela Zumbado – Yes. It’s sad that’s taken effects on this scale to finally bring the conversation to the forefront more than it has been. I think that’s a lot to do with the depression that comes with it; we’ve ignored this for too long, and there’s a lot of shame in that. That’s not necessarily the emotion to focus on. It’s really more about the struggle that the black community has faced in this nation forever.
A lot have turned a blind eye and I’m really glad that it’s the forefront of conversation right now; I really do hope to see some change. I know artists feel this need to have some work within that change. Whether we’re aware of it or not, artists of all types are true influencers of society. I know a lot of actors, musicians, and people in the public eye try to have a voice to lift up those who don’t have one. That’s only something you can admire and hope for the best with.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, art is important. It is something that brings us together. Speaking of which, are there any artistic passions you have?
Carmela Zumbado – I love to play piano, but I’m a novice at that. Quarantine has given me a great opportunity to work on that. (Laughs) I really idolized my sisters because they are both excellent at piano. We should have formed a family band because they are really talented musically and as actors. I’m going to use quarantine times to try and sharpen my piano skills a little more.
Cryptic Rock – It is good to do something positive with the time. Last question. If you are a fan of Horror and/or Science Fiction films, do you have any favorites?
Carmela Zumbado – I was first welcomed into the world of Horror when I was able to shoot a film called Boniato (2015). It is supernatural, but was a really cool learning experience for me. It’s a 23 minute film that premiered at Sundance. Check that out! Besides that, I love Psychological Thrillers. I recently watched Split (2016) and thought it was wild. Things like that really amp me up.