Spanish actors Joana and Mireia Vilapuig, who rose to fame with Spanish television phenomenon “The Red Band Society,” star in the drama series “Selftape,” which they co-wrote with Ivan Mercadé, Carlos Robisco and Clara Esparrach. The show plays at Series Mania this week ahead of its bow on the Spanish VOD platform Filmin on April 4.
The Vilapuig sisters spoke to Variety about the dark side of adolescent acting, and their experiences as young women working in showbiz.
“Selftape’s” story is based on their experiences as young stars, documenting their struggles after unforeseen circumstances bring them back together, wading through the trauma created by early fame.
With authentic clips from old audition tapes and a slow-burn plot that escalates as the past unfurls, audiences can expect themes of competition, regret, longing and disillusion to emerge through each of the show’s six episodes.
Bàrbara Farré directs the project, which was produced by Filmax, Mercadé and the Vilapuig sisters, as well as Pau Freixas, Carlos Fernández and Laura Fernández Brites, in conjunction with Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, and the support of the Institut Català de les Empreses Culturals (ICEC).
It seems nearly impossible to spend your life portraying others and continue independently without being shaped by these roles in some way. How much of each role you play informs or impacts your life outside of your career?
They always modify you in one way or another, it’s inevitable, and it’s nice that it happens as long as you’re clear about where the limits are between your life and fiction. Setting limits is learned over time.
When you’re shooting, you enter a kind of bubble, you’re telling a new story trying to empathize and understand new characters, you meet many new people who become your family for a while, your life changes because you’re shooting for many hours, immersed in this new World that’s being created. All of this inevitably modifies you.
Once the filming’s over, everyone goes home and that bubble disappears. Everyone goes on with their lives, waiting, starting new projects and trying to process everything that’s been lived through.
Was it more difficult playing versions of yourselves on screen than strangers in a script? Can you talk about the level of vulnerability that went into writing and acting on this project?
The starting point that led us to start writing “Selftape” was clearly the need to tell a story that directly addressed our lives and our past, as sisters and as child actresses. In the process of writing and creating the characters, it was key to realize that we had to build a Joana and a Mireia that were our alter egos, that’s why we decided that they should have our names, not hide behind another identity. All this was an almost therapeutic process between us; talk a lot about our common past, our fears, come clean and meet again in real life through those fictional characters.
Clearly in writing and on paper, everything was easier. We realized the acting challenge that “Selftape” represented the moment we stood in front of the camera and looked into each other’s eyes for the first time as actresses who share a film set and not as sisters, it was the first time we’d acted together that way.
I was reminded in the first two episodes that women, in life and in the arts, seem to come under pressure to go from embracing naive innocence to openly alluring in the blink of an eye. The show talks about that a bit, is this going to be a common theme throughout and can you talk about the importance of showing how typecast women become in a society that easily values their appearance over the multiple layers of talent and personality under the facade?
For us it was very important to show, from a very personal point of view, situations and moments we experienced in the film and TV industry, in front of and behind the cameras. Always being very faithful to telling our story.
Being child actresses, we experienced very violent situations at a very early age and this obviously marked us. We also realized the roles you play as an actress at each age; when you’re a girl, you look for innocence, spontaneity and when you’re a teenager or young person, this innocence becomes a constant sexualization in characters with very little importance to the plot; you play the friend of, the girlfriend of, the daughter of, etc.
The aesthetic and physical pressure that we’re subjected to as women, inside and outside the industry, is very heavy. You feel that you always have to be perfect for that male approval, he’s the one who validates whether or not you’re working. If you don’t fit in, they don’t call you.
Growing up in the spotlight as a package deal seems surreal. Can you talk about coming to set yourself apart from each other and did that feel like a sort of disassociation when you were competing in the same market for work?
It was for precisely this reason that we decided to start writing “Selftape.”
We began to receive auditions that were requested for the same character, we directed ourselves, we compared ourselves, we tried to manage the fact that one was chosen and the other wasn’t. We grew up living this competition very closely, but this was the catalyst in writing “Selftape.” When we realized that behind what we’d experienced there was a story, we spent the first months just talking about ourselves, how we’d felt, how we compared ourselves, what our relationship was like, what we’d lived.
“Selftape” has been a process for us, a process of reconnecting and talking about uncomfortable things that have happened to us, as sisters, as actresses, and as women.
Originally published at variety.com