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urlThe Oscars where held earlier this week and I had the thought that if McFarland, USA would have been released late last year it would have been included as one of the nominated films for Best Picture. Yes, it’s that good. So good that it made me almost cry tears of joy quite a few times. The film hit close to home because I live in California and was around during the time the movie took place. It’s also a motivational and inspiring story.

McFarland, USA is directed by Niki Caro and stars Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ramiro Rodriguez , Martha Higareda and more.

I had a chance to interview actress Martha Higareda about the movie and here’s how things went.

Luis Lecca: Congratulations on being part of a great movie. I think It could easily be nominated as Best Picture.  It’s still earlly though. How were you cast in McFarland, USA?

Martha Higareda: I was filming a TV series in Mexico called El Mariachi then my agent called and said there’s this movie that I want you to read for.  Check out the script. Then I read the script and fell in love with it.  When I found out that it was based on a true story I couldn’t believe it.  It was such a fantastic story, no wonder Disney is making it into a movie.  I met up with the director (Niki Caro) and read for her. Then we worked around the show I was shooting in Mexico and it all worked out. I’m really happy and honored to be part of this project.

Luis Lecca: The movie is based on a true story. Did Lupe actually exist or was she fictional?

Martha Higareda: No. My specific character is a person that we created with the director. She’s (Lupe) a hair stylist, she owns a tiny beauty salon. Director Niki Caro said that we need a variety of Latino representation in the movie. Lupe represents the heart, and values.

urlLuis Lecca: Well living in Los Angeles I definitely know many people that remind me of Lupe. What do you think the message is of McFarland, USA ?

Martha Higareda: It’s a beautiful message. It a movie that talks about inspiration. It tells you to forget about color and our differences.   It’s funny because Mr. White, even his name is “White,” is so different than the people living in the neighborhood he moved into.  He feels it in the beginning and then he realizes what hard workers the Latinos and Mexicans are. They have big hearts and are also very talented.  He noticed that the high school boys are great runners too. He then becomes part of the community.  The Latino community welcomes him as we always do.  We are very open. If anyone come to our house we are like, “What would you like to eat?” It was very important for Niki Caro to show that in McFarland, USA. What an incredible heart we have.

Luis Lecca: Lupe does indeed represent the community being welcoming. I loved it how Cheryl White (Maria Bello) was so skeptical when meeting her only to become friends later.

Martha Higareda:  Yes, in the beginning you see Mr. White thinking, “Oh my God, what are we doing here?”  Then little by little they fall in love with all of us and we fall in love with them too.  We become family and help the children live up to their dreams.

McFarland, USA is now showing in theaters.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Inspired by the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner,) a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts become apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally finds a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.