Eréndira Ibarra - Force of natureAfter making her mark in the Wachowski sisters’ sci-fi psychodrama Sense8, Mexican actress and self-styled ‘earthquake girl’ Eréndira Ibarra is ready to make a seismic impact in Hollywood
Growing up, Eréndira Ibarra was surrounded by lights, cameras and movie action. The daughter of famed Mexican director/producer Epigmenio Ibarra, her summers were spent at Mexico City’s Estudios Churubusco Azteca. However, her early immersion in film and TV was tempered by a second life beside the ocean in California with her freethinking mother.
Both aspects of her upbringing have infused her burgeoning status as one of Mexico’s finest acting exports, and following a breakthrough role as polyamorous actress Daniela in Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s sci-fi drama for Netflix, Sense8, the girl who grew up climbing trees is set to reach even greater heights.
THE RED BULLETIN: You led something of a double life as a child. What was that like?
ERENDIRA IBARRA: I was called ‘earthquake girl’, because I was hyperactive, and also ‘tree girl’, because I liked to climb trees. I had a very happy childhood in San Jose, where I was in touch with nature. At my elementary school, there was a giant tree, which was my castle.
When did you choose acting?
I was doing badly in high school, and it was clear to me that I wanted to go into acting – but who wants to be an actress when you’re the daughter of someone like my dad? Then, one day, I lost my history book and went crying to my father’s partner, saying, “I lost my
book! I’ll never finish high school!” She said, “Enough! So what if you don’t? Do what you have always done, and stop being unhappy.”
Did you feel overshadowed by your father?
For my dad, it was important I studied first, so people wouldn’t say I was only in the industry because of him. When I started out, every director was tough on my work – that helped prove I was there because of my effort.
When did you start to believe you could be a leading lady?
During the second season of [Mexican prison drama] Capadocia. I used to say to myself, “I’ll never have the leading role: I’m the chubby one, the lead’s best friend, and that’ll be my life.” I’ve always been self-critical and insecure.
So, what helped you heal?
Meeting my husband, [model and martial arts trainer] Fredd Londoño. This job is very hard, and when you are forced to change because of what others want, it’s impossible to be the best version of who you want to be. When I started to love myself a little, I began to heal, and surprisingly my body started to change, too; before then, I was reluctant to do exercise and eat well, because I had given up.
How did this new approach manifest itself?
Doing CrossFit made me start to like exercise. Before, I’d go to a gym for four hours and end up just watching TV and hanging out. With CrossFit, it’s just an hour, I have a great time, there’s an incredible community, and I see almost immediate results.
Did it open doors in your acting career?
Yes, totally. If I hadn’t entered a community, I couldn’t have landed the roles that I did, because I didn’t believe in my abilities. But the moment I began breaking barriers, I realised I’m capable of much more.
How was working with the Wachowskis?
The audition for Sense8 was in Mexico, and I got there a little bit late. I was nervous, but I did the scene. I thought I’d messed up, but later I found out I’d got a role – though nobody told me which one. That continued right up to when I was in San Francisco for filming. During my fitting, I asked the wardrobe person who I’d be playing, so she went to see Lana. Then Lana came to me and told me, “You are Daniela, my Daniela.” We hugged each other and I cried.
So, what’s your ultimate goal?
To be at peace with all my decisions. Some roles give you good experiences, some bad. I like to think I’ve taken the best from my characters, but it’s very clear to me that some have left me with scars, too.
As actors, we live on the brink of insanity. We learn to look into the deepest of darkness and the shiniest of happiness. So you’d better be ready, because Eréndira Ibarra is here to stay.