Soapbox Mexico

Two worlds

Taking on the challenge to educate Mexico’s rural and poor indigenous population using a popular soap opera.

Soapbox Mexico goes behind the scenes of one of Mexico’s longest running and most popular telenovelas which promotes women’s rights and positive social change: What Women Don’t Say.

Executive director Alicia wants her soap to be inclusive and takes on the challenge of educating the large, mostly rural and poor Mexican indigenous population using the soap opera – with mixed results.

Like many on the soap team, actress Alejandra is educated and urban. But there is another Mexico out there, a world Alejandra must encounter as she takes on the role of an indigenous poor woman with a mentally ill daughter in a story about superstition.

The actress struggles to imagine herself into her role when at home, so indigenous advisers are brought in to the production. On set, we see the actress and her indigenous helpers connect – she takes lessons in weaving from the extras, an elderly indigenous couple, whose own, real, desperate poverty is slowly revealed: the real voices from the other world.

The couple in the story have fled violence, like many other, to eke out a living in the big city. The real couple say modern medicine is out of their reach. They share the same ambitions for their children as the frenetic producer. The valiant effort by the actress to bridge the gap only goes to show how huge it really is.