A Star is Born in Pocha: Manifest Destiny—Veronica Sixtos
Once in a while the stars align to give birth to a new one. That’s exactly what happened to Veronica Sixtos in Pocha: Manifest Destiny. A star was born.
The 23 year old makes her leading debut as the titular role of Pocha—a film written and directed by first-timers, Kaitlin McLaughlin and Michael Dwyer, respectively. Pocha is a fierce young woman who does whatever it takes to survive and help her mother stay afloat. Her real name is Claudia but aptly called pocha because she doesn’t speak Spanish despite being Latina. According to the first entry of the almighty Internet dictionary, Urban Dictionary, a pocha is a “Mexican-American female (Chicana) with a limited Spanish vocabulary and speaks with a clear Americanized accent.”
Being Americanized does not shield her from getting deported back to Mexico—a country she hardly knows—after getting caught with a gang that steals credit cards from unsuspecting men. Both her mother and her had been in the United States undocumented since she was very little. The only family she has back in Mexico is her estranged biological father and grandmother, who wasn’t aware she had a grandchild.
They get off to a rocky start, but at the insistence of the grandmother, her father tries his best to keep her out of trouble but not without treating her first with disinterest and disdain. All the lecturing came to no avail because she’s thrown in the middle of a brutal cat and mouse chase between drug smugglers and the Mexican Feds. She has to choose between doing hard, low paying labor in a foreign land or joining the dangerous drug-smuggling game to make a decent living and stay alive.
Veronica Sixtos took the role by the reins. Between her first very graphic sex scene and doing her own stunts, such as horseback riding, she seems to do it effortlessly. As if she was born for the big screen. There’s an indescribable expression of pain, suffering, resistance, and resolution she carries throughout the film: That of an old soul who has seen it all and now is on survival mode while suppressing her emotions. Something that’s primordial to stay alive in a warzone.
The film is beautifully shot by Michael Dwyer in key locations of the US and Mexico. He was also the DP of the film. He did a magnificent job by turning the action/thriller into a beautiful cinematic ballad. There are also great appearances by actor/producer, Jesse Garcia (From Dusk till Dawn: The Series, Quinceañera), Roberto Urbina (Narcos, Heroes), and excellent performances by the rest of the supporting cast.
Pocha: Manifest Destiny is one of the few action/thrillers with a Latina lead. I highly recommend you watch it. Don’t just support Latino content. Consume it.
If you missed the sold out LA premiere, it will be playing this Friday evening, September 25th (7:15pm) at the 19th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival. Pocha: Manifest Destiny will be screening at the AMC Empire 25 movie theater on 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036. Purchase your tickets here: Pocha: Manifest Destiny.
Come see it with me.
César Vargas is a writer, producer, advocate and social media PR and marketing strategist. He founded UPLIFTT (United People for Latinos in Film TV and Theater) and is president of Burning Ones Productions. His op-eds and quotes can be found on the Huffington Post, Latino Rebels, Fox News, NBC, Salon, and the Guardian. He was named 40 under 40: Latinos in American Politics. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CesarVargas365 and Facebook:www.facebook.com/CesarVargas365.