Melissa Barrera (In The Heights, Vida) reveals what it was like to tell the story of real women struggling with generational substance abuse in All The World Is Sleeping in her new uInterview.

Barrera plays Chama who inherited her drug abuse problems from her mother and must now face her generational trauma head-on when her daughter is taken away.

“The movie is her trying to get clean to get her daughter back,” Barrera told uInterview Founder Erik Meers, “but in the midst of an addiction, it’s hard to do it by yourself. And we see her get turned away by the people that she seeks help from and so it’s basically a one-woman journey to get sober and to get her family back.”

The actress explained that Chama is based on seven women who helped write the movie script along with director Ryan Lacen.

“Every single thing that happens in the movie happened to at least one of them,” she said. “And if not more, cause I think all of them got their children taken away at one point or another.”

“At least one of them was with me on set every day. So, they were basically my consultants,” Barrera said. “Every single thing that I did, I consulted with them first and they would walk me through exactly how everything had to be done. Exactly how, you know, the withdrawal symptoms happen. And so I had, you know, that very valuable tool on set to guide me through this process and all I wanted was to do right by them, to do right by their stories, and to make it as real and raw as possible. As honest as possible so that anyone that has gone something like that in their life could see themselves represented because in the end this is a story about hope.”

Barrera recalled one of the women, Doreen, who helped her shape Chama. “I was playing with her kids and we were talking, and she’s so open too like they were so open, they would talk about it openly in front of their kids,” she said. “I guess it’s not a secret right? Everything’s out in the open when you have a life like that. And she told me that the most painful thing that they could say to her was ‘How can you love drugs more than your kids? If you really loved your family you would just leave the drugs.’ And she was like ‘That’s not how it works. It’s literally like I’m not choosing the drugs, it’s life or death. Like I feel like if I don’t get high I will die.'”

“It’s I think a very common misconception that we all, we’re walking down the street, and we see someone getting high on a corner and we’re like ‘Why don’t they just stop and go get a job?'” she said, “as if it were like an easy thing to do. We are lucky that we don’t have addictive personalities, you know?”

“When I first read the script I was mind blown because Chama and I are so similar in the way that we think, in the little games that we play in our heads,” she continued. “And I was shocked because I was like, ‘Maybe if I’d been born somewhere else into another family and been exposed to this as a kid, maybe I would’ve been Chama. And it’s really all about that. It’s really all about where you happen to be born and what you’re exposed to in your day-to-day life when you’re growing up.”

Barrera revealed that the indie movie is finally being released three years after it was finished, “I’m so excited because these women just want their story out there,” she said, adding, “They want the issue to not be taboo. They want to be seen as human beings.”

“There’s a line in the movie that I love,” she said, “and it says ‘The only thing worse than being seen as invisible is being seen as disposable.’ And that’s a lot of the feeling that these people go through.”

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