Since the March 6th premiere of Telemundo’s “Corazon Valiente” (weeknights; 9:00PM) telenovela star Katie Barberi is helping to smash ratings records for the network. The original production is the first 9PM Novela since 2006 to pass the 1-million mark in premiere week among adults 18-49, beating the CW four nights in a row among all key demographics! In addition to her role of “Perla Navarro,” hit romance/action series, Novella is currently being shot around Miami. Katie is also co-starring in the 2nd season of the Nickelodeon Latin American series, “Grachi,” as “Ursula,” an eccentric widow and mother of “Matilda” (Kimberly Dos Ramos). Telemundo just concluded re-airing “Dona Barbara” for which Katie received widespread acclaim for her role of “Cecilia.” Since premiering in 2008, “Dona Barbara” has generated the most $$ in foreign sales in the history of the network.
I had the opportunity to speak to Katie and learn more about her exciting career…
How excited are you about the rise in ratings for Telemundo’s ‘Corazon Valiete?’
Telemundo is a company I have always respected a great deal. I love working on any project they invite me to do. Their programming is bold and innovative. They’re not afraid to take risks. Having now done 17 telenovelas, the genre could get monotonous, but Telemundo keeps their projects and ideas for how to entertain their audience very fresh. Corazon Valiente is just one more example ofTelemundo’s ability to tap into the entertainment needs of the Latino audience in the United States and all over the world. I have had great fun with the role of “Perla.” She is truly an ‘antagonist’ character. Her knowledge of what the rest of the character’s pasts are makes her a force to be reckoned with! She is a diva with secrets that could ruin many people’s lives, as well as her own.
What has it meant to you being a part of Telemundo’s ‘Dona Barbara?’ As it has generated the most revenue in foreign sales history.
Dona Barbara was the telenovela that was the game changer in my career forever. Among many other things, it garnered my wonderful fan club, “The Mariposas”. I adore them. They are loyal and supportive beyond measure. Dona Barbara started out as a project I wanted to be a part of because it was based on the great novel by renowned Venezuelan novelist Romulo Gallego. Ironically, the role of “Cecilia” was not in the novel. It was a role created for the Telemundo production adaptation by writer Valentina Parraga. Although the shoot was 10 months long, and parts of it were very complicated as it was shot on location in Colombia, “Cecilia” was without question my favorite role to date. I can only hope that one day a role as beautifully written and enjoyable to portray, with such a compelling story of love and personal growth will come my way again. The fact that Dona Barbarawas so well received by its audience doesn’t surprise me at all. Edith Gonzalez, Christian Meier, Genesis Rodriguez, Arap Bethke and the rest of the fantastic cast, as well as amazing writing by Valentina, and excellent direction and production made it an unforgettable project.
As you grew up travelling and moving from school to school because of your parent’s careers – how has this embellished your career as an actress and the characters you portray?
There are few methods more effective for research on playing a role than observing people in their cultures. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have the benefit of having observed different mindsets about living life. How to love, how to create success for yourself and your family, how to deal with money and spirituality, as well as how to deal with pain and bitterness, jealousy and hatred… Traveling gives you the opportunity to observe and understand many different points of view about all of this. If you can understand it, as an actor you can play it.
At the age of nine, your career took-off professionally, how did you deal with the transition at such a young age?
I have often heard the question: Did you miss your childhood? I don’t know what that means. We are all different, with different needs and backgrounds. One person’s childhood doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, have anything to do with anyone else’s. In my case, I knew from the time I was five years old that I wanted to act and sing. My desire has never varied, and has always been as passionate. My mother was always extremely supportive. The first time I stepped on a stage I was six years old in Nashville, Tennessee. I sang “I Cain’t Say No” [from the musical Oklahoma!] for my school talent show in front of about 200 people. From that moment on, I knew what I would do for the rest of my life. I love to perform. It was that way when I was a child, it is that way now, and I’m sure I will be still performing and loving it when I’m in my nineties!
Where did your passion for acting in Latin soaps stem from?
I came across the world of telenovelas quite by mistake. I had already been acting professionally for ten years in Los Angeles when I accepted a role at twenty in a telenovela to be produced in English for Televisa studios in Mexico. It was called Acapulco Bay, and was shot simultaneously with the telenovela Acapulco Cuerpo y Alma with a Mexican cast starring Paty Manterola and Saul Lizaso. While shooting the project in Mexico, the producers at Televisa noticed that there were several films I had done for The Disney Channel in their video rental store they offered the employees inside the studio, and that I was born in Mexico. They offered me a contract with the studio to shoot several telenovela projects in Spanish. I was raised in the United States and actually spoke maybe 80% Spanish with a definite American accent. The studio assigned me to diction coach Adriana Barraza, who was later nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Babel. I took six intensive months of Spanish diction lessons with who in my humble opinion is one of the best acting and diction coaches in the world, and then did my first starring role in Alguna Vez Tendremos Alas with Kate del Castillo and Humberto Zurita.
What do you love the most about live, theater performances?
Doing theatre is without question the best way to for an actor to hone their craft. You can’t get the feedback you get from an audience doing theatre working in any other genre. I have had some of the most fulfilling moments in my life on top of a stage. And I can tell you that seeing good theatre in New York is absolutely my favorite pastime and vacation!
Your career has enabled you to travel abundantly – where has your favorite location been thus far?
I have worked in some beautiful places! I’m very lucky because in the end, it’s a working vacation. You will never work every day that you’re on location, so you always have the chance to explore the beautiful sights! I have shot all over the United States, Mexico and Colombia. I don’t have a favorite location- every experience has been amazing! But a couple of standouts would be Acapulco in Mexico, Cartagena in Colombia, and Miami in the U.S.
How was your experience being a part of Disney produced films?
Disney is a legendary company. I had always wanted to work for them, and eventually shot Spoonerwith Robert Urich, Not Quite Human 2 with Alan Thicke, and Appearances with Ernest Borgnine for Disney Productions. I loved every experience! They were awesome!
Which actor or actress do you hope to work with in the future?
I am a huge fan of great talent. I love great performers and writers. There would be too many to list, but I would love to work with Laura Linney, Cynthia Nixon, Shirley MacLaine, Kate Winslet, Robert Downey, Jr, Neil Patrick Harris, Geoffrey Rush, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jack Black, and I would love to work with my boyfriend Craig Hurley again! Great writers whose lines I dream of saying include Michael Patrick King, Jenny Bicks, Aaron Sorkin and Chuck Lorre. And I love working with Catalina Ledeboer on Nickelodeon LatinAmerica’s Grachi. She’s amazing.
What is your favorite activity to do with your dogs, Bullet, Lucy and Silver?
My Bullet passed on a couple of years ago and is at Rainbow Bridge waiting for us to see each other again someday… Lucy and Silver live with my mom and would never have it any other way. My little “mini-me” is a Maltese named Sugar, who is without question the cutest Maltese on the East Coast! She is adorable and cuddly and an amazing traveler! We love walking down Fifth Avenue and in Central Park in New York together. She is quite the diva-dog!
What future projects are in the works for you?
I start the the 3rd season of Grachi for Nickelodeon LatinAmerica in July, and am working on a jewelry line for my amazing fans called Mariposa Katie. It will be ready for “unveiling” soon. I’m very excited about it!
What are your hobbies and interests outside of acting?
I love spending time with my boyfriend, friends and family. I love good theatre and am a huge movie buff. I love to read and travel and enjoy life. Despite the craziness that surrounds the business I am in, I always try to remember, every day who and what is most important to me.
Read More About Katie In The Press!
Written By: Michelle Coveny