Carolina Yuste (Badajoz, 1991) can hardly believe it. She has recently premiered the ensemble and social comedy “When Brooklyn Met Seville”, hot on the heels of enjoying her presence in “The Cover” and “Chavalas”. Her revelation came with “Carmen & Lola”, for which she won the Goya for Best New Actress, and, between the end of this year and the beginning of 2022, we’ll be able to enjoy her performances once again in the latest Jaime Rosales and Arantxa Echevarría films. We sat down to discuss the current boom period for Carolina Yuste, women’s representation in the entertainment and media industry, theater, parents, friends and all those shoots that have allowed her to grow as an actress and as a person.

How are you handling the Carolina Yuste boom? A little dizzying?

I’m delighted, and I say it all the time. What with the state of the world right now, I feel privileged, truly fortunate. On top of that, I get offered some really diverse projects. I don’t want to give in to vertigo, or fear.

Let’s see, just so we understand each other: how many scripts do you actually have right now on your desk, bedside locker or in your bathroom? 

I really couldn’t say! The worst, or the best, is that I never throw any of them away, I’d feel ashamed to. They’re part of the memories of what’s happening to me. In my house, film scripts house-share alongside theatrical texts, like “Prostitución” which opens in the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, in Barcelona late this year. I’m so proud of this Andrés Lima play, not something to be trifled at.

How often have you been asked in recent months, “Carolina, don’t you ever take a break?”

(Laughs) Often! You see, as a result of the pandemic, filming and premieres have all come together. I imagine that, from here on in it will be more seasonal in that sometimes I’ll be snowed under and other times less so. Right now I want some time to rest and see my parents. I haven’t seen them for a year and a half.

When you were studying acting, did you have plan B just in case things didn’t pan  out?

To be honest, I didn’t, no. I never even considered studying anything else but that said, I had planned to take to the mountains and look after my vegetable garden if things hadn’t worked out. As I said earlier, life is very long, I have just started out and who knows, in the future my career may change.  

Do you have now, or have you ever had many reference points in the acting world? 

So many! Some are well-known faces and others aren’t and who are not currently working, but who are still there, fighting for visibility. Two of my idols? Carmen Machi and Nathalie Poza, who I’m currently working with in “Prostitución”. They both fascinate me, and, above all, they’re salt of the earth. I also admire Penelope Cruz and keep track of her every success lately with “Parallel Mothers”. What a beautiful film!

And then one day you get the script for “When Brooklyn Met Seville.” What attracted you to the film?

I remember that I was deeply moved by it. I know it’s a comedy, but it had me in tears after reading it. It resonated within me, because of how it talks about working-class families who have to fight to ensure their kids get an education. “When Brooklyn Met Seville” moves within a comic code, which was a novelty for me. It’s a film that can reach a wide audience without renouncing more profound issues, like prejudice against those who are different from us.

Ana, your character in “When Brooklyn Met Seville”, as was the case in “Carmen & Lola” (2018), “The Cover” (2021) and “Chavalas” (2021), come from tough  environment, where they have to really battle to succeed. Do you find that you learn life lessons from these roles? Are they brave?

Yes, and I can completely understand the situations all these girls go through. It’s good that cinema deals with subjects like that, and that it’s not all tales of the well-to-do bourgeois. Not that I’ve anything against stories about the bourgeois, I’m only looking for a bit of variety.

One inevitable question that comes up when you look at the cast of “When Brooklyn Met Seville”… you must have been rolling around in tears laughing on set, did they have to shout cut much?

Imagine, shooting with Estefanía de los Santos, Manolo Solo, Canco Rodríguez, Andrea Haro … Their characters are hilarious, and, at the same time, they’re so funny in real life. We laughed on and off the set. And when we went for a beer afterwards, even more.

Did you improvise? 

Well, the director Vicente Villanueva had everything well-planned and clear beforehand. After that, and staying within a few guidelines, we were free to play around with our lines. But, no, we don’t improvise as much as in “Chavalas”.

“When Brooklyn Met Seville”.

Let’s just go back to your beginnings. What do you recall of that moment when you and the director Arantxa Echevarría started filming “Carmen & Lola”? Did you ever  even suspect the film would become such a huge success?

Not at all! I remember the energy of telling a very special story, the romantic  relationship of these two women in an environment such as that of Spain’s Romani people. And the level of commitment of the entire crew on what was essentially an extremely low-budget film. Then suddenly, word of mouth, and “Carmen & Lola” becomes a box-office and critical success and starts doing the rounds of the festivals. As an example, it was a really cool experience to be at a festival in Rabat.

Where do you keep the Goya for Best New Actress for “Carmen & Lola”?

At my father’s house, in Badajoz. He has it sitting next to his copy of “Don Quixote” just beside the TV.

Between that now famous, militant acceptance speech of yours at the Goyas, where you defended the presence of women in Spanish cinema, and today, do you think we’ve made much/little headway?

Yes, definitely. If you look at what’s happened in the past three years, we’ve seen the arrival of directors like Clara Roquet (“Libertad”), Carol Rodríguez Colás (“Chavalas”) and Júlia de Paz Solvas (“Ama”), who’ve all made a significant number of directorial debuts, by women. Directors who have already become a point of reference for future generations of filmmakers. And, what about recent happenings at the Venice and Cannes festivals? Women also stole the show there, at Cannes we had Julia Ducournau with “Titane”, and in Venice, Audrey Diwan with “Happening”. But we shouldn’t get complacent and abandon the fight to ensure women’s presence in the media and entertainment industry.

“Chavalas”.

You haven’t only featured in smaller scale films and more recently your career includes a veritable theme park in terms of the productions and crews you’ve worked with, like for example Daniel Calparsoro’s movie “Sky High” (2020). What was that experience like? Was it like suddenly arriving in Hollywood? 

Yeah yeah, all of a sudden, “Sky High” arrives, and it was an amazing experience. A completely different project from “Carmen & Lola”. An action movie with very expensive cars. Mind blowing. It’s fascinating what I’ve learned from each project.

“The Cover” was released quite recently and we had previously interviewed the director, Secun de la Rosa, here, who claimed to be in awe of you. Is it something mutual?

Secun really is wonderful. A person who’s all love and light, incredibly special and my character was a real delight. Dressing up as Amy Winehouse, a dream come true! But also “The Cover” vindicates the role of those artists who aren’t in the spotlight and who are often belittled. I arrived on set in Benidorm, and I just lost it when I finally met them all in their environment. Secun ‘s movie has come as another gift in my life

Right now “Chavalas” is in theaters and very popular with audiences. What do you most like about the film? 

“Chavalas” is great. And I’m head over heels with my three Cornellà girls, Vicky Luengo, Elisabet Casanovas and Ángela Cervantes. The script had a big impact on me, and I identify with Vicky’s character. I also left my lifelong friends behind in Badajoz to go to work elsewhere. But I always return to meet up with them again. My friends found “Chavalas” very moving and each one recognized characters we all know.

“The Cover”.

In this past year or so, how many COVID-19 tests have you done on a shoot? Countless? 

I think I stopped counting after around 120. I’ve had so many. Getting the PCR is now a standard aspect of filming nowadays. A movie brings so many people together …

I can’t wait to see “Girasoles silvestres”, the film you shot under the orders of Jaime Rosales? What’s Rosales like to work with?

He really cares about the minute details of the film. Everything from leading actors’ performances through to what the extras are doing. Jaime is always there, and, from the script, he also gives you freedom and scope to play around. That’s what makes his works so special and each project so different from the next. He’s by no means a broad-strokes director, quite the opposite. In “Girasoles silvestres”, I was only on set for two or three days and other actors, like Anna Castillo and Quim Àvila, are more prominent.

And we’ll soon be seeing you in “La familia perfecta”, the latest film from Arantxa Echevarría, the director of “Carmen & Lola”. The title has to be ironic, right?

Absolutely, it’s the most imperfect family in the galaxy. And, as a project, worlds apart from “Carmen & Lola”, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum. We’ve transitioned from a really small-scale  movie to a much bigger production. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Arantxa’s hallmark, which is still there, set in stone and indisputably her. The character played by Belén Rueda is the center of this insane clan. Life has passed her by without her ever being allowed to be her true self, but things are about to change.

Pere Vall
Pere Vall. Journalist covering the world of cultural and entertainment in general, specialized in cinema. Pere is a regular contributor to Time Out, Ara, RNE and Catalunya Ràdio, and was editor-in-chief of the magazine Fotogramas in Barcelona for more than 20 years. A fan of Fellini, of good, regular and bad horror movies, and of humor and comedy in general. As a child, he wanted to look like Alain Delon, and has ended with a certain resemblance to Chicho Ibáñez Serrador. Not that he’s complaining though.