Marcella Ochoa Tackles Sterilization Of Latinas In Horror Movie Madres – Deadline
Screenwriter Marcella Ochoa gives voice to countless Mexican-American women who have been forcibly sterilized in the United States with her Amazon Prime Video and Blumhouse collaboration Madres. With help from lead actress Ariana Guerra, the couple tackled a real-life horror story using gender as a tool to raise awareness for a social justice cause inspired by Jordan Peele’s 2017 hit. Get out.
Madres tells the story of Mexican-American couple Diana (Guerra) and Beto (Tenoch Huerta) who have just moved to a farming community in California. Diana’s pregnancy becomes mysteriously complicated, and she’s not the first to struggle while pregnant in her adopted hometown. All roads lead Diana to confusion and imminent danger as she begins to unravel strange events that may be related to a legendary curse or something more sinister. Madres is currently available to stream through Amazon Prime Video.
“I love horror, and growing up with my grandfather who is from Mexico, we knew all these legends. It was in my blood, ”Ochoa, who co-wrote the story alongside Mario Miscione, told Deadline. “My goal with everything I write is to tell stories about our community – the Latino community – that have never been told before. I didn’t grow up seeing people who looked like me in the horror movies I watched, so I wanted to help change that. Representation is something that is so important to me.
She continued, “When I was researching the Americanization of the Mexican-American experience for something totally unrelated, I came across information about the sterilization of Mexican women in the 60s and 70s in California that totally blew me away. I wondered if I should write a drama about it and decided it was a horror story. The horror genre really lends itself to telling social justice stories that I realized after watching Get out. I knew this was one way to make a difference.
Madres is also notable for showing that Latinos are not a monolith by featuring characters who represent a specter of the community.
“Diana is a Chicana from Los Angeles and she’s a journalist. When we meet her, she is pregnant with her first child. And although I’m not a mom, as a Latina I understood Diana’s experiences, ”Guerra says. “This is not a character that I have seen in many stories. She is very unique in that she is not only a main character who is Latina, but that she is a pregnant mother in this important matter which requires her to be a journalist while also finding her place in the spectrum of the Latino identity.
Ochoa adds: “It was important for me to show that we are not a monolith. Through Diana it was important for me to show the second generation Mexican-American experience, and through Beto a different perspective as he immigrated here and works as a migrant farm worker. And even further through the character of Tomas (Joseph Garcia) who is even more Americanized than Diana. Our life experiences differ greatly, not only when comparing the countries to which we are connected, but even the cities in which we grow up. We don’t see much of it all, we are constantly boxed and stereotyped. When we are represented we all speak Spanish, but it was not my reality that made me feel out of place. I used Diana as a vehicle to show that you can feel like an outsider in your own community. We hope this story opens the door to more of these types of stories.
Ochoa thanks Blumhouse, Amazon Prime Video and executive producers Jason Blum, Jeremy Gold, Marci Wiseman, Lisa Bruce, Sanjay Sharma and Matt Myers for believing in the story she and Miscione wanted to tell, they didn’t need to be convinced.
“We took the risk of this story because we believed in it, luckily Blumhouse just got it,” she shares. “We weren’t launching Latino executives, that doesn’t happen. They understood the sterilization angle and the Mexican angle, they were adamant that this story needed to be told. We need more executives to take risks like this because our community needs to be represented both in front of and behind the camera in all aspects. Hope this helps open doors for studios to take more risks telling all of our stories. “