PASADENA, Calif. -- Kate del Castillo was only 6 years old when she decided to become an actress. She and her sister had accompanied their father, actor Eric del Castillo, to the theater in her native Mexico.
"I will never forget. I went with him and he was in a play called 'Salome,' and I remember being backstage with my sister being nosy and mischievous. And I saw this actress preparing backstage in this beautiful costume, and I was overwhelmed," she recalls.
"It was something I felt inside," she touches her heart. "And then I opened the curtain just a little to see and I will never forget, the theater was shaped like a horseshoe. It had balconies, and it was full. And I was like, 'Oh, my God, I need to be on this side!"
Three years later she made her first movie with her father's independent movie cooperative.
"I thought, that's what I wanted to do, but I was too afraid and insecure, which I still am in so many ways," says del Castillo.
"But I didn't know if I wanted to tell my parents that was going to be something serious and not only because I wanted to be famous or be on TV or in the movies. So I waited until I was very old, already working and couldn't go to school any more, because I was working a lot. So I was 15, 16, I told my parents that I really wanted to be an actress and I wanted it to be my life, to be my career."
Her father objected, she says, wanting to protect her from the rejection that actors face. But she was determined.
She starred in a series of telenovelas and became a hot ticket all over Latin America when she portrayed a drug trafficker in the popular "La Reina del Sur" eight years ago. Next Monday she returns to the role airing on Telemundo with English subtitles. It's nine years later since her character disappeared into the witness protection program, and the show picks up where it left off. "I've aged nine years," she laughs, "the first season I was pregnant, now I have a 9-year-old kid."
During the interim, del Castillo was pounding out the telenovelas, but says she grew bored. "I've always been grateful for the telenovelas because I learned so much and they gave me the name -- at least in Mexico," she says.
"But I was bored and I think I was a little bit bitter because telenovela actresses and movie actresses, it's like you do one or the other. They didn't want me at all. They didn't offer me nothing except the telenovelas, and I was bored and said, 'I don't want to keep doing this anymore because I love my job, working and going on set for me is a privilege and I'm happy and thankful, but it cannot be like that because it feels wrong in my gut.'