A bio-series about iconic ranchera singer Chavela Vargas starring “La Reina del Sur” lead Kate del Castillo is in the works. Colombia’s Caracol Televisión and indie Miracol Media are co-producing “Chavela,” which will trace the tumultuous life and career of the legendary singer.
Del Castillo will transform into Vargas, the mythical woman in the red poncho, who boldly rejected the conventions of her time, paving the way for a unique and groundbreaking journey in the landscape of Mexican popular music.
More from Variety
Her internal battle with personal demons, heartbreak, and alcoholism propelled her to become a trailblazer, stepping onto the stage to sing Mexican songs in a jorongo, the traditional Mexican poncho, and pants. With a guitar pressed against her heart, a tequila in hand, and a pistol holstered on her belt, she mesmerized audiences, captivating both men and women alike.
“I came out of hell, but I did it singing,” she declared. At the age of 88, she received a Latin Grammy, and when criticized for not being Mexican, she shot back: “We Mexicans are born wherever we please.” She was born in Costa Rica and died in Cuernavaca, Mexico at the age of 93.
Spain’s equally iconic Pedro Almodovar included many of her songs in his films, including “The Flower of my Secret,” “Julieta,” “Kika” and “Live Flesh,” among others. She’s also featured in Julie Taymor’s “Frida,” where she has a cameo, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Babel.”
“It is an honor and a great challenge to have the opportunity to portray a woman as womanly as Chavela Vargas, a character full of contradictions and nuances. That’s what I seek, as an actress, I am passionate about her life and her love for Mexico, the different stages of her life, the good, the bad, and the worst,” said Del Castillo, adding: “Her poetry and esotericism seem fascinating to me, along with her love and passion for tequila. It scares me, and that’s why I accepted it. There is a lot to learn from Chavela, starting with her freedom.”
Arantxa Echevarría, winner of the Goya Award for best new director, will write and showrun the 8-episode series, which is based on the biography ‘Dos Vidas Necesito. Las Verdades de Chavela’ by María Cortina. “It’s a journey to a free and wild soul that screams and suffocates at the same time. Such an interesting life that when it comes to an end, you want to keep living it. For me, Chavela means freedom,” said Echevarría.
The production plans to recreate the singer’s life across three time frames: Mexico during the second half of the 20th century, the 1920s in rustic Costa Rica, and the Almodóvarian Madrid of the 1990s.
Lisette Osorio, VP of international business at Caracol Televisión, remarked: “Caracol Televisión and Miracol have joined their creative and production expertise to create a series that honors the history and legacy of Chavela Vargas, the woman who, despite being told that her voice had no future, became one of the most relevant singers in Hispanic culture for the world, and the voice that transcended the impositions and paradigms of her time.”
“The audacity and rebellion with which she lived her life have been an inspiration to many, and today it allows us the great opportunity to present to the international market a story that will be unforgettable,” she added.
Pedro Dávila, Miracol Media’s CEO concurred: “We will travel back in time to Mexico in the second half of the last century though making it feel modern, agile, and contemporary. We intend to attract the young audience that shows a thirst for sexual diversity, inclusion, and rebellion. It will be a major production that will reflect on freedom of expression, poetry, and a musical adventure that will make viewers sing.”
“Chavela” joins a slew of bio-series that have engaged the marketplace in recent years, including “Luis Miguel,” “Selena: The Series,” Juan Gabriel bio-series “Hasta que te conocí,” and “Nicky y Jam, the Winner,” among many others.
Best of Variety