During her formative years in Venezuela, Carla Baratta always used art and performance as a vehicle for creative self-expression. However, it was her time at the New York Film Academy that permanently awakened the acting bug within her as a teen. Initially intimidated by the bright lights of Hollywood, Carla returned to Venezuela before plucking up the courage to move to the States three years ago, with her husband and a fierce determination to make her dream a reality. The leap of faith paid off when she was cast in the Sons of Anarchy spinoff Mayans MC as Adelita, a woman seeking revenge for her family’s murder. Mayans MC airs Tuesdays at 10PM on FX.
Cliché: What was growing up in Venezuela like?
Carla Baratta: Amazing! During my childhood, Venezuela was a different country. You could actually walk and play on the streets and dream of having a normal and healthy life there. Sadly, it’s a very different place now. It just doesn’t feel like the same country that I grew up in.
You’ve acted in community theater from a young age, but your trip to New York Film Academy at age of 17 seemed to solidify your conviction to pursue acting professionally. What was that about that experience that flipped the switch for you?
I was 17 and learning English in Boston that year. I just knew right away that this was my path. After my time at NYFA, I had to go back to my country because I was too young. Now, I understand it was the best move for me, as I was not prepared to handle all the things that come with being an actor in Hollywood. That being said, I definitely think the seed that was inside of me (the seed being my love for acting) started to grow bigger and bigger after that summer at NYFA.
Tell us about your show, Mayans MC, and your character, Adelita.
Mayans MC is a dream show. Everyone has been working so hard with all their hearts and you can tell that by watching each episode. I feel so honored to be part of the cast, especially by playing a character like Adelita. She is such a powerful force. She watched her family die at the hands of the Galindo Cartel as a young girl. Now, as a grown woman, she is seeking justice. She does not rely on men and is capable of anything in order to protect her people. She is fearless, strong, smart and ruthless, but she also has a big heart, especially for kids.
Adelita has witnessed some horrifying and deeply traumatic events. As an actor, how do you channel that emotion to effectively portray those scars?
I like to honor the truth of my characters by connecting them with my own truth. Even if the events and circumstances are different, I try to channel those feelings. In this case, I pulled any pain, loss, betrayal or injustice that Adelita and I have experienced in our lives and used that to honor the character and relate to her.
Would you say that Adelita’s past has shaped who she is as a person?
I believe, as humans, we have the power to define who we are every day. But in this case, the only life that Adelita knows is heartbreaking, because she has been always surrounded by violence. I think deep inside, she is more vulnerable, but it’s all buried under her survival instincts.
How can we expect Adelita to evolve over the course of the season?
I can’t talk about anything too specific, but it’s going to be so beautiful to discover all the different colors that she has and how she reacts to the things happening in her outer and inner world.
You cultivated your love of art and acting simultaneously. In what ways do both art forms enable you to express yourself creatively? Do they each unlock different emotions within you, or are both an extension of the same feeling?
Both art forms, acting and painting, are my way of expressing myself. All of my vulnerabilities are redirected to creativity. I try to use painting as therapy. My art pieces have almost become like my biography. Both artforms unlock different emotions for sure, but in the end, everything is a reflection of who I am as a human being. I can’t lie throughout my art, it’s the truest version of myself.
What first drew you to painting?
I have always painted. It’s the best way to express myself. I think I started selling pieces and showcasing my art in galleries when I was around 16. It has saved me so many times and it’s definitely what keeps me in my element.
What kind of subjects or scenes do you like to paint?
I was obsessed with eyes for a long time. I think I always will be, but now I’ve moved on to faces. I love to create emotions with surrealistic faces and making distortions of them so that people can see what they what to see. I can make an explosion of colors and at the same time a piece that is simple and purely linear. I like to combine both techniques to portray the duality of mind and soul.
Who is your greatest inspiration or role model as an actor? As an artist?
I get so inspired by the people who are living their life in a simple, pure and organic way. I admire my grandmother and mother so much, as well as my sisters. Every woman in my family has been a teacher for me. I know so many actors and artists that have been an inspiration in different moments in my life. I love Penelope Cruz, her body of work and the way she connects and transforms is beautiful.
Which accomplishment of 2018 are you proudest of, either personally or professionally?
I arrived in the United States almost 3 years ago with nothing other than my husband, my passion and our dreams. I feel so proud of us for being able to pursue our passion, overcome fear and for believing in the power of love. We have evolved as artists, as a family, and as humans. It’s so hard to be an immigrant trying to survive and to make your dreams come true, but I wouldn’t change that learning experience for anything in the world. I feel extremely proud of us as a couple for that.
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“Mayans MC” Actress Carla Baratta is Living the American Dream. Photo Credit: Leslie Alejandro. Makeup: Jessica Ahn. Hair: Matt Fugate. Styling: Ami Lasser