Patricia Velasquez, the Latina actress and former supermodel, stars in Fina Torres’ new film, Liz in September, based on the iconic lesbian play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove.

Patricia Velasquez On ‘Liz In September’

In Liz in September, Velasquez stars in the titular role of the terminally ill lothari(a) Liz, who falls in love with Eva (Eloísa Maturén), a woman married to a man and mourning the death of her young son that unexpectedly comes into her life. According to Velasquez, it’s the pain that the two women share that draws them to one another during Liz’s Caribbean birthday celebration with her group of closest friends.

The way we connect with people, I think most of the time, we have things in common with people. It starts as, “This girl is straight I can convert her” in Liz’s mind. That’s what she thinks. I can convert her,” Velasquez told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “Then she ends up being really drawn to her because of the commonality of pain. There is a commonality of pain in these two characters [Liz and Eva] that brings them both together.”

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Throughout Liz in September, there is the inevitability of Liz’s death. In one of the few scenes that makes its way from the play to the movie, Eva comforts Liz in the hospital after her cancer takes a turn for the worse. It is that scene, which Velasquez had performed in a master class, that convinced Torres to make the feature film – and to make it in Spanish.

When [Fina] saw the scene not only did she think we should do the film, but she thought let’s do it in Spanish because nothing of this kind has ever been done before in the Hispanic world,” said Velasquez of the ensemble film, which stars a number of her Venezuelan actress friends. “And that’s a big tribute to her because she’s a very well known director; she could’ve very well done it in English to try to make it more mainstream, but she chose to do it in Spanish and that made a huge difference.”

In addition to shooting the film in Spanish and injecting some Latin humor into the script, Torres also opted to add a die with dignity thread into the narrative. Liz, who has always been such a vital woman, doesn’t want to wither away; she wants to die on her own terms. Not only does Velasquez believe that the plot line modernized the story, but that the right to die movement – notably endorsed by the late Brittany Maynard – is a just cause.

“[The right to die movement] is definitely something that I agree with 100 percent. Fina feels the same way,” said Velasquez. “It is so timely that this happened in this film when it’s a subject that has been talked about so much. I support it 100 percent. People should have a choice.”

Velasquez On Coming Out

Earlier this year, Velásquez added published author to her resume with her memoir, Straight Walk: A Supermodel’s Journey to Finding Her Truth, which discusses, in addition to other aspects of her life, struggling with coming out as a Latina supermodel.

“I thought that if i was gonna come out, I was gonna betray a lot of my fans, which were guys. A lot of the work that I did as a model – because I don’t model anymore – it was Sports Illustrated, Victoria’s Secret,” said Velasquez, who ultimately decided to come out after becoming a mother and wanting her daughter to be proud of who she is. “Who I thought I was gonna betray, it’s been the opposite. [My fans] have been extremely supportive. They have now allowed me to be completely free and in touch with myself, and I sometimes think I waited too long.”

These days, Velasquez thinks it’s a much friendlier time to be out. When asked about model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne – who is openly dating indie rocker St. Vincent – and others like her, Velasquez says they have her full support and hopes the media will follow suit and treat coming out and same-sex couples as a non-event as time goes by.

“In terms of other models and other celebrities and how they are portrayed by the media, I can only tell you they have my full support and I hope the media does the same,” Velasquez told uInterview. “It has to come at a moment when it’s not news anymore. That it is such a normal thing, me walking down the carpet with my girlfriend or [Cara Delevingne] walking down the carpet with her girlfriend; it’s just not a big deal anymore.”

Liz in September will debut on Wolfe On Demand and Vimeo On Demand Nov. 3. It will be released on iTunes, Amazon and other VOD platforms Dec. 1.

See below for Patricia Velasquez’s full interview with uInterview.


Q: How did you get involved with Liz in September? -

This has been a project that I’ve been very, very much hands on. Fina Torres the director, she’s Venezuelan and so am I. It was almost due that her and I would work together on something, so we started working on a different project and I invited her to come to a master class that I take here in Los Angeles. I ended up doing a scene of the original play, which is called Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, and she fell in love with the play, and she fell in love with the scene, and she had tried to get this movie off the ground many years before that. When she saw the scene not only did she think we should do the film, but she thought let’s do it in Spanish because nothing of this kind has ever been done before in the Hispanic world. And that’s a big tribute to her because she’s a very well known director; she could’ve very well done it in English to try to make it more mainstream, but she chose to do it in Spanish and that made a huge difference.

Q: What scene had you done for the class? -

From the class, I did a scene where Liz – Lil – which is the name of the character in the play, wakes up in the hospital and her friend, the character of Eva, the straight girl that comes in to see her, she’s there with her in the room and she tells her to leave, and to go back to her husband. Which is a very different play, I mean Fina took a lot of things of the play and changed them. Originally, there are eight characters; she ended up with six characters, she added the right to die with dignity, she added a lot of Hispanic and Latin humor in it. So, definitely there’s a lot of the play, but there is also a lot... Because the play as of now would be outdated. If you were to do the play like that in any of the Latin countries it probably wouldn’t be, but here, fortunately, we’ve come a long way. Still a lot more to go on LGBT issues, but it was just outdated, but wonderful. So that’s why she added the euthanasia and the Latin humor. That’s why the film is so enchanting because it’s not outdated anymore.

Q: What can you tell us about your character Liz at the outset of the film? -

Liz is a very stubborn girl. I think she’s a girl who feels afraid of commitment, and she definitely hasn’t been accepted by her family and her sexuality. She has a big yearning desire to be accepted – to be not accepted, but to be loved. And, by the way, I’m talking like Lil, and she wants to be lost more than anything. You know, it’s like a little kid when you don’t get something, especially as deep as just simply something that just belongs to a human’s right to be loved. She becomes a girl that is extremely afraid of commitment and she starts using girls and dumps them because she’s an attractive girl. She used to model and she knows how attractive she is. She is just really afraid of commitment, but at the end, what we realize when we see characters like this is that they’re afraid of commitment because they just really really want to be loved.

When you know that you have very little time to live, she starts acting out even more. Now she thinks, now I’m gonna go kill it for the fun of it because of the anger that she feels because she’s going to die. While she’s going through the process of all the five stages of dying, then she encounters what we all want in life, you know, love. It’s a really beautiful reflection what Fina has done with the film. It’s almost like life never really ends; it just transforms itself.

Q: What do you think draws Liz and Eva to one another? -

The way we connect with people, I think most of the time, we have things in common with people. It starts as, “this girl is straight I can convert her” in Liz’s mind. That’s what she thinks. I can convert her, I can convert anyone, because that’s who she is. Then she ends up being really drawn to her because of the commonality of pain. There is a commonality of pain in these two characters that brings them both together.

Q: What are your feelings about the right to die movement? -

That is definitely something that I agree with 100 percent. Fina feels the same way. It is so timely that this happened in this film when it’s a subject that has been talked about so much. I support it 100 percent. People should have a choice.

Q: How was it filming the diving scene in the movie? -

I never dived before. I fell in love with diving, completely fell in love. We did some scenes in Venezuela and we had to reshoot some of them. I can’t tell you how happy I was. I couldn’t wait to go and dive again. It feels very safe, and it’s just magical – the life underwater, when you see under there it’s just so beautiful. I understand now why everyone gets hooked.

Q: What was the dynamic like on set? -

There is a wonderful thing that happens in this film, which is we are all very good friends in real life, very very good friends. So, of course it’s not easy to be among so many women; there are a lot of hormones on set, but we are all extremely good friends. I did a movie before that I produced with two of the actresses in the film. And Eloisa, I brought her into the film to meet Fina, so we’re just all very good friends. It was amazing. Isn’t that we would all like, to go work with our friends? Of course there were moments where there were fights and stuff, but when you’re family – and I think this is also a result of what is happening in our country, the political situation – Venezuelans tend to stick together. We have become a unified community to try and make a difference in our country. I think we all understood how much we needed to support Fina, because to shoot movies in our country is very challenging. So we were all there because we knew we were creating something beautiful. We were making something that was gonna make a difference in the Hispanic world. We’re seeing it now, with the way the film has been received and the letters that we get, so it really wasn’t so much about us anymore; it was about what we were doing, which was the film, and we needed to support Fina in the process.

Q: What was it like becoming the first Latina supermodel to come out, and what do you think about how model Cara Delevingne's coming out has been portrayed in the media? -

It just got to a point where I thought that, in one way, if i was gonna come out, I was gonna betray a lot of my fans, which were guys. A lot of the work that I did as a model – because I don’t model anymore – it was Sports Illustrated, Victoria’s Secret, so I related femininity and sensuality, I related it to something that had to do with work, and it wasn’t nice. Through the process of coming out, I realized I can definitely own my femininity, my sexuality and my sensuality, and who I thought I was gonna betray, it’s been the opposite. [My fans] have been extremely supportive. They have now allowed me to be completely free and in touch with myself, and I sometimes think I waited too long.

For me, the media has been amazing in this process. In terms of other models and other celebrities and how they are portrayed by the media, I can only tell you they have my full support and I hope the media does the same. I really hope it does the same. [Cara Delevingne’s coming out] has to come at a moment when it’s not news anymore. That it is such a normal thing, me walking down the carpet with my girlfriend or [Cara] walking down the carpet with her girlfriend; it’s just not a big deal anymore.

Q: Can you tell us more about your memoir that came out earlier this year, Straight Walk? -

With being a mother comes responsibility, and it got to a point where I thought I needed to take responsibility so I can pave a way for my daughter to always feel proud of who she is and that only takes an example. So I started writing my memoirs a long time ago, and I didn’t feel that writing my memoirs would be interesting just to write them; I thought if I’m going to tell all these stories everyone always tells me to write about, there has to be a purpose. The purpose for me was if I can just help one person, not necessarily that had to do with being gay, if I could just help one person, to inspire them to meet the truth, whatever truth that might be, then I would be doing the work. So I wrote the book with that goal. I wrote lots of chapters, lots of things and working with my editor, sometimes there were chapters in there that I really thought weren’t gonna make it. But if they weren’t fulfilling the purpose of fulfilling the goal, then they were taken out.

When I see now the result and the impact that the book is having, not only English but especially in Spanish, and how many people we’re helping, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have written the book, because we are helping so many people. The book is an inspirational story about living the truth, whatever truth that might be, but at the same time, the book has a lot of stories about my world in fashion and things that people really wanna hear and read about, but in a way that is very personal. That’s why I see people that read the book, they read it over and over again, and it has become a little bit of a guide for a lot of people. I think in order to be able to relate to people, you have to be completely honest and almost naked where you’re like, ‘You’re gonna judge me, you’re gonna judge me.’ I’m just gonna tell you everything, the truth, how it is, because that’s what people respond to. People respond to honesty, nothing else.

Q: What other upcoming projects do you have? -

I have a few actually. I have a movie called Guys Reading Poems, which I am very excited about. It’s a neo-noir film, made by a first time director named Hunter Hughes. For me, it is so wonderful to be in a place in my life where I can really focus on the projects that I would like to do. What started as being a minority and the struggle in having to create your own projects has now truly become a blessing. When you work on one project, you give your life for it, and this is what happened in Liz in September and now Guys Reading Poems, and another one that I’m working on that I can’t tell you cause I’m a little superstitious.