Cross Culture: Regina Carregha
The multiculturalism reflected in Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s student body continuously surprises and inspires. In light of the political uproar the United States has been in for the better part of 2016, it is not only interesting, but necessary to learn about all of the differences that make us so diverse. Sophomore acting major Regina Carregha from Mexico sits down with Jackalope Magazine and discusses goals, inspirations and challenges that she’s faced as she pursues her degree in the United States. Born in Mexico City before moving to Cancun with her family when she was three years old, Carregha’s studies in the US so far have proven to be a instance of culture shock, excitement and motivation.
Jackalope Magazine: Why did you choose acting?
Regina Carregha: I’ve always been this loud person who likes to be the center of attention. I’ve always liked to sing and dance and perform. My cousin is a famous comedian in Mexico, so when we were little my sisters and I sang, made a little sketch or danced with my cousin and he would just start trying to make everyone laugh. It’s funny how when we grow up we sort of follow everything that we did when we were little.
What differences have you noticed between Mexico and the US?
Well, you know Mexico telenovelas and soap operas. That’s not good acting…[it’s] super dramatic and extremely wrong. But I don’t judge, that’s a part of it and it’s a technique I guess. But I wasn’t into that. I wanted to do film; I want to be a serious actress. I wanted to be taken seriously. The way people approach acting here, especially at this school, it’s more about how you feel and how you’re connected with everything around you. It’s not about yourself, it’s about the situation. And I really like that it’s not all about looking pretty, but about really delivering the line and connecting with your surroundings and your partner or partners in the scene.
In high school [in the United States] you know how you have the drama club and the sports club, things like that? It’s not like that in Mexico. In Mexico you just have your classes, school’s over and then in the afternoons if you want to have a hobby you go to an academy especially for that. If you want to do musical theater, in Cancun there’s only three. So the arts are super restricted.
There’s a huge open-minded culture here. It’s incredibly beautiful and I love that about this place. One time someone asked me what my favorite and least favorite thing is about the US. I said the open-mindedness. I love it and I hate it. I love it because it leaves the door open for you to be yourself. Everyone here grew up with that way of thinking. In Mexico, it’s not like that. You’re judged all the time, so I really like that I can be my complete self here. The thing that I don’t like about it is that I come from a really closed-minded and conservative country. Because of the Spanish invasion I was raised Catholic, my family’s Catholic and they’re super religious. So when I got here, the first couple of months were too much of a culture shock. I thought, “this is too much liberty!” The fact that you guys have Planned Parenthood and the option to choose your gender…in Mexico that doesn’t happen.
Has it been difficult so far to break stereotypes?
It has, it’s difficult because with film and acting, sadly, it’s all about your face. They’ll look first at your face then at your resume. It’s sad but that’s the business, and it’s hard because when you have colored skin, people definitely look at you as different because you’re not from here. And I have an accent so that’s a plus. For me that’s a good thing because I’m bringing diversity, I’m giving more variety for a role. People here want the typical blonde, blue-eyed, pretty girl. Throughout this year and a half, I’ve been picked for films or short films because of my ethnicity for some and some others because of my talent. It’s been balanced. Sometimes it’s because they need a Spanish speaker, or a Latina.
When I got here, the first thing that people said was, ‘You’re going to be the next Sofia Vergara.’ That would be a good thing for someone who wants to be famous, for someone who wants to be pretty and funny with a great body. But to me it’s not a good thing because I want to be an icon. I want to be an actress. I want to do my job well. So I don’t want to be related to someone because of my skin color, because of my ethnicity, because of funny. I mean, I appreciate those comments but…
Are there any actresses or actors that you look up to?
There’s this actress that I really like: Her name is Karla Souza, she’s in “How To Get Away With Murder.” She started in Mexico, she started building her acting career and then she came here to be an actress and a director. I really look up to her. I also like Sara Ramirez from “Grey’s Anatomy.” She started in Mexico and then she moved to the US and started her career. She won a Tony on Broadway. She is just amazing.
Is it important to you to see people in your profession who come from the same place as you?
Yeah. It’s like a motivation. If they did, why can’t I? It’s just the fact that Mexicans, my people, are succeeding in the world that I want to work in is awesome, it’s motivating and it’s encouraging me to work harder to be where they are or even higher. You never know.
Did you ever feel like it wasn’t possible?
When I was little I was always told that. Not by my parents, my parents have always been really supportive. Actually, one of my best memories is when we did [the play] Annie and my little sister played Annie, I played Miss Hannigan, my dad played Mr. Warbucks and my other sister was in the chorus. So, like, all my family was involved. That is the memory that keeps me going on to be an example for my family. But I was always told by my friends, ‘You’re gonna be in telenovelas because acting doesn’t pay well…what’s your second choice?’ And in school I was always categorized as stupid because I didn’t do my work, I was always in my acting. There was a moment in my life when I was like, ‘If I’m not an actress, what can I be? I don’t know what else I can do.’
After you graduate from SFUAD, what do you want to do?
If I take out [factors like] money and my visa and everything, my dream would be to go to LA and start auditioning for film. I came here for musical theater and I’m changing my major. I love theater because it’s alive. It’s not like you get multiple takes. It’s a moment. In the moment, living in the moment. And I would love to do theater too, if I had the opportunity to do a play in theater I would love to do it and I wouldn’t reject it. But with film, I feel like you can see your improvement with the movies you’re doing.
What are you working on currently?
I want to direct too, not only act. Actually, I started this music video I’m directing for “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson. We started this two weeks ago as a response to what’s going on with Trump. The day after the election I received more hugs than during Christmas. It was so nice to feel the support of the people. I find this place to be a home. I just wanted to return the favor with a protest through my art, as a thank you to this country for everything it’s done for me in general. And one man isn’t going to destroy everything that thousands of thousands of people have worked to build.
What do you think of Santa Fe?
I feel like it’s really boring. I come from Cancun, it’s like parties and I’m legal at 18 so I can start drinking at that age. I grew up with the beach and every time I got mad I’d drive 10 minutes to the beach and relax. Here, it’s really hard to get to the mountain in 10 minutes. I don’t have a car, so I can’t move. I can’t work in places other than school because of my student visa. Literally my life is inside this campus. But whenever I have rides I like going downtown because I love it there.
What advice do you have for actors from Mexico who might want to do what you’ve done?
Follow whatever your instincts tell you. I live by impulse, it’s a great thing and it’s a bad thing. If your gut tells you to do something then do it, and if it was a bad decision then you have 45 years to fix that mistake.
This interview has been edited for style and clarity.