While we’re used to television programs propagating stereotypes, especially when it comes to Latinos, MundoFox’s action-packed telenovela, La Mariposa (The Butterfly), is a welcome exception to the norm. The series defies Latino stereotypes and with its strong female lead, challenges gender stereotypes as well.
The series centers around character Alicia Benitez, better known as ‘La Mariposa,’ a woman in charge of a money laundering ring. The novela is based on an original story by investigative reporter Gerardo Reyes, about the life of an attractive, intelligent and notorious woman, and one of the most-wanted international fugitives ever pursued by the United States government.
Argentinean born Michel Brown is the star of the action-filled series. He plays secret agent Manuel ‘Amaury’ Martinez, who while fighting the drug trade between Colombia and the United States, gets involved with Benitez. The series defies typical telenovela stereotypes with its adrenaline-filled action sequences, the story of a woman leading a drug organization and its diverse cast. “I think it’s cool that they focus on a woman’s role in drug trafficking,” says Brown.
Salvador Zerboni, with his pale blond hair and intense blue eyes, stars as strong-willed DEA agent Bill Smith. Zerboni remembers when he was the only Mexican studying at the famous Actor’s Studio in New York City, and some of his classmates questioned how he could afford his classes. “They called me the apple picker,” he recalls. He feels redeemed, since he says nowadays he is the only one of that class who is working steadily and has starred in more than 14 productions.
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Although both actors say they have been discriminated against for being Hispanic, they feel discrimination against Latinos is giving way to more acceptance and opportunities, especially in the entertainment business. “We have moved beyond being cast as the valet parking attendant or the housekeeper,” says Brown. “Latinos are working in many series, many movies, and I think it’s great.”
La Mariposa airs Monday through Friday at 9pm EST on MundoFox and its tagline is “amores que matan” (which can be translated literally as “love that kills”), so it was only fitting to ask its male stars whether they believe there are kinds of love that can be lethal.
“Yes, definitely,” states Michel Brown. “I think there are kinds of love that kill and others that revive you, that make you a better person. That’s what happened to me. I think I found the love of my life and I feel that has made me a better man.”
Salvador Zerboni jokes that he’s been able to survive his own share of dangerous relationships. “Thank God yerba mala nunca muere,” he quips. “I believe love is very important in your life, it definitely changes you, makes you transcend and want to be better. It is something that propels you and moves you to make something out of your life,” adds Zerboni.