MEXICAN-AMERICAN actor Kiara Beltran joins us on Close-up Culture to discuss Unfriended: Dark Web, her short film projects, travelling and much more.
Q: Can you share anything about your role in Unfriended: Dark Web?
A: UNFRIENDED: Dark Web is a horror about a guy who finds a laptop and starts looking through it and finds videos of girls who are most likely being trafficked. He is on Skype with his friends and the owner of the laptop connects and becomes part of their conversation threatening their lives and their loved ones as well.
I play one of the Charons, which is this group of people who work for the owner of the laptop. We threaten the guy who found the laptop and his friends.
Q: Why should UK audiences be excited about seeing the film?
A: I THINK audiences should be excited about this movie because even though it might be controversial it will leave you thinking about the power that technology has in our lives.
In my opinion we are so used to having technology day to day that we do not really think about how it impacts our lives. There are lots of positive things, specifically about social media, but at the same time I believe there are some very negative things about it that we are still not dealing with.
The movie is very entertaining for those who like horror films. I believe even though it goes to an extreme you can learn a lot and think about how to use the internet and the control it has over our lives.
Q: Have you seen the original Unfriended and are you a fan of the horror genre in general?
A: I HAVE not seen it but I have heard really good things about it.
When I was little I used to watch a lot of horror movies but as I grew up I stopped watching them. I think I now know that some of these things do happen. I believe there is bad and good in the world.
I also believe we can attract what is on our minds so I prefer to not watch them so I’m not thinking about these things. On the other hand, occasionally, I watch some horror movies depending on their story and/or its message.
Q: You have been involved in a number of short films recently. What should we be on the look out for?
A: I LOVE short films. Recently one of my award-winning short films, “Together Again” got released and now can be seen on vimeo.
There are other two shorts that I’m really excited about.
“Pingüino” which means pinguin and is about three siblings. One needs a kidney transplant but the donor, who is his sister, is an alcoholic who relapsed. The other sibling is now forced to find a donor.
The second one is called “Birds in the City”. I don’t know if I can call this one a short film as it lasts about 40 min but it is a really cool short that we shot in Mexico and is now is post production.
Q: You have assistant director credits on a few of these projects. How have you enjoyed working behind the camera as well as in front of it?
A: I REALLY enjoy working behind the camera. When I was in college all I wanted to do was learn. I knew that being on set was one of the best learning experiences I could have so whenever I could I would become part of the crew.
When we went to Mexico to shoot “Birds in the City” one of the biggest compliments I got as an actress is how well I knew how to work with the camera. I have to say working behind it taught me how to do so.
Q: With the technology and sharing platforms we have now, how useful is it for you to be able to create your own content?
A: I BELIEVE is really important to create your own opportunities.
As we can see with platforms such as Instagram people have made a living out of them. I believe we live in a time where excuses are not valid. If you want it go and create it. I think that if you want to be part of the entertainment business, you can’t be only one thing. Learn, create and learn again.
Q: Can you tell us about your background, growing up in Mexico and what brought you to the US as an actor?
A: I WAS born in California but I spent most of my childhood in Mexico.
I have traveled a lot which has made me who I am. Throughout my life I’ve lived in more than seven countries: USA, Mexico, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain, Kenya, Brazil, among others.
I have learned that there are a lot of beliefs systems, religions and ways of living – but the most important thing is respect. Growing up in different countries made me more open, it taught me how to adapt and it showed me that art is everywhere and can impact societies in positive and negative ways.
Now that I look back, I know this is one if the reasons I am an actress. I want to create a positive impact in the world.
I wanted to be an actress since I was in high school. I went to boarding school one year before graduating and one of my friends had told me about this Academy in California which taught Fine Arts. A degree was really important for my dad. In that academy, I could graduate and have a degree in acting so I went for it.
Q: Films like Call Me By Your Name have shown how useful it can be for modern actors to be bilingual. Is this something you want to utilise in your career?
A: DEFINITELY, yes. By the way, I loved that film. Timothée Chalamet is amazing in it.
Most of the things I have done lately have been in English and in Spanish. Latinos are having more opportunities and being able to speak both, English and Spanish, fluently is an asset that can really help you in this industry. I speak Portuguese and French as well.
We have a short film, written in English and French ready to be shot, now we are just looking for funding. So, yes, being able to speak different languages is something that I really enjoy and more when I can use it to further my career.
Q: I know volunteer and charity work have been a big part of your life. Can you share anything about these pursuits?
A: YES, being a volunteer and charity work is actually what made me want to become an actress. I traveled to a lot of countries and realized that spending time, giving and learning while doing volunteer work was more for me than anyone else.
I will explain why. When you go to this places you can impact their lives, for weeks, months or years at the most, which is amazing but when you go back most likely their reality won’t have changed that much. I realized that I needed to do something bigger.
Art transforms. Artists are able to make you think, cry, and laugh. Artists can make you feel and that is most beautiful thing in the world. I hope I can become one of those artists who through their art and actions can have a positive impact.
Q: Where do you want to take your career in the next few years?
A: TO be honest I have my personal goals but I’m open to any possibilities.
I would love to be part of a TV series, a Latino one would be the dream. One like “Jane The Virgin”. Of course, I would not mind if I get an opportunity like working with the cast and crew of “Grey’s Anatomy”. I think life has its ways of showing you where you need to be so I am open to whatever comes.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
A: WE are now working on a feature film which will be shot, hopefully, next year in Mexico. I wish I could tell you more about it. All I can say is that is a personal story that I am really excited to share. I believe the Latino audiences will be happy to have stories like this one in our theaters.