‘Madres’ Star Ariana Guerra on How Film Can Tell Stories to Inspire Change

Madres is a bit of an enigma as a film. Billed as a horror movie about a Mexican American couple in 1970 who move to California for better opportunities as the due date for their first born approaches, the film takes inspiration from a very real historical tragedy. In the years post WWII, California farm workers were subjected to hazardous working conditions which poisoned them with the deadly pesticides that were being sprayed over the crops. Madres aims to bring awareness to a forgotten disaster and Ariana Guerra wanted to make sure she was apart of this important story when she accepted the role of the film’s protagonist, Diana. 

“When I first read the script, I remember just being like, I emailed my reps and I was like, This is the Mexican Get Out. Like, I need to be part of this. Like, whatever it is, I will do it. I felt like Diana was someone that I absolutely resonated with. This type of horror, to be honest, is kind of my favorite, where it’s the scariest parts of the ones that are rooted in a very realistic horror.”

The realism of the film didn’t just stop there. Guerra found herself connecting to Diana in ways that reminded her of own life. Madres was the latest example of the authentic stories gaining more ground in media that was written by and in many ways for marginalized communities.

“For me, being able to witness even in the last five years, just how more authentic and real the plethora that exists for Latinos now that didn’t before,” Guerra said. “Now we get to have these diverse stories that are told, and they’re just becoming more and more accurate.”

It’s the opportunity of being able to tell an authentic story and have a chance to be an advocate at the same time that Guerra felt the most fulfilled by. During the tumultuous year that was 2020, she found herself wanting to do more with the space she was given by trying to build awareness and pushing for more change outside of acting and into her personal life.

“After we wrapped on the show, I just remember telling myself I need to get more involved in my community; which I’ve already done as much as I could with the time that I have, but I mean, it’s one thing to be able to be a storyteller and really shine a spotlight,” she recalled. “But if we don’t follow up that with any form of activism, it truly doesn’t even have to be political. Just getting involved locally, being a part of a leadership program — whatever fits your lifestyle. That to me is the most important.” 

Through Madres, both her activism and acting worlds were able to collide in a way that allowed them both to thrive. Guerra highlights how creating spaces in media that are safe for marginalized people helps build the foundation for them to create even more engaging and thoughtful works. 

“I think it’s really important that Latinos and people in poor communities like my own remember that we do deserve a space to tell these stories and to pursue these unconventional careers,” said the actress. “I’m not here to tell someone what do to do, but I definitely want to at least provide some opportunity or advocate for the rights that we deserve. I think that sometimes we just forget that.” 

Madres is currently steaming on Amazon Prime Video as a part of Welcome to Blumhouse.