Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Behind The Scenes With Ruth Livier

(From left: Ruth Livier, Alejandro de Hoyos and Marlene Forte)

I'm not sure how I found Ylse. I was poking around MySpace and there it was and when I watched the first episode, I was hooked. It's a comedy with bite. Ylse unabashedly pokes fun at the hypocrises of Latinos and especially women in the entertainment industry. Incredibly, Ruth Livier, creator/producer/star agreed to make an appearance here on Chica Lit.

According to her bio, Ruth is best known as a series regular on Showtime’s groundbreaking drama Resurrection Blvd for which she won the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, the Viva Los Niños award from the March of Dimes, the Breakthrough in Entertainment Industry recognition from Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante and the NAMIC Legacy Award. Among her guest-starring and recurring television credits are: Mission Road, Haunted, NYPD Blue, According to Jim, Becker, King of the Hill, The Pretender, Beverly Hills 90210, Soldier of Fortune, Profiles and Reyes y Rey.

Chica Lit: What was the inspiration for Ylse and please share your journey in bringing it to the web?

Ruth: Ylse is the result of the intertwining of many things. First, as an actress, I just had to start laughing at the number of times I went out for the role of the "stereotypical Latina" and 99% of the time the character’s name was "Maria." A beautiful name but, you know, that as a writer the names we baptize our characters with are important because their names are a reflection of their personalities. So, that’s what was amusing…this idea that we’re all the same…we are all Marias.

I live in the world of "show-business" so I wanted to write something I knew…and I decided on the talk-show setting because I thought it would lend itself beautifully to inviting guest-stars from both the Spanish & English speaking worlds. You know; bands, authors, actors, politicians…I thought it would be a flexible setting.

Also, I wanted to write something that reflected my reality, from my, as you call it wicked (LOL!) point of view which to me was not a matter of Language; it was a matter of culture. This is what I strive for; writing from the gut. People are smart. One smells honesty 10 kilometers away!! English, Spanish, Spanglish….who cares? Just focus on being real….speaking your truth…that’s what I tell myself anyway.

Which brings me to the second part of your question/and your next question….the journey and decision to bring it to the web.

Well, I’d never been produced as a writer. This is my first finished piece; ever. So, I thought, the chances of being taken seriously…as "an actress who thinks she can write"…LOL…AND on top of that convince anyone…that there is this HUGE sleeping giant of a bilingual/bicultural audience…that I am a member of…! Well, I thought it would be smarter to put all of that energy into actually producing YLSE. Then, I would have something to show. And the response we have been getting so far…OMG has been amazing!

Chica Lit: How did you decide to make it a web series?

Ruth: These new technologies…the access we have to "world-wide" distribution via the web…How could I not make it into a web-series!! And my producing partner and YLSE director, Joe Camareno, is heaven sent. This man is smart, talented, easy to work with, we get each other’s sense of humor…and he had produced a web-series with other friends (Pasiones Obsesionantes…I participate as an actress in that show)…so he had the web experience and the creative vision that just worked perfectly for YLSE. He came on board and we invited our talented, brave friends to work with us and we all just got it done.

Chica Lit: Girl, you have one wicked sense of humor. Are you always this witty or more serious in your "real life"?

Ruth: LOL! Thank you for the great compliment!! I think I’m much more serious in real life…I used to be shy…LOL "used to be." I was happy being left alone with a good book (still am) but, I quickly learned that if I was going to find work as an actress I had to get over it…fast.

Chica Lit: So did you get started as an actor and did it prepare you for writing and producing your own series?

Ruth: Yes, absolutely. I started working in theater in my native Guadalajara when I was ‘en la secundaria’ there. Scripts and books and stories have always been a huge, huge part of my life. I love a good story…I find myself reading a good book slower and slower as the chapters go by…because I don’t want it to end! But, yes….being around scripts and writers and artists most of my life…I hope that helps make me more objective when it comes to my work as a writer. One recognizes good writing immediately…(I’m hooked from page one of Switchcraft BTW…and it is sexy & hot…can’t wait to get to know these women!!!)

[Editorial note: oh stop, you're making me blush!]

Chica Lit: Ahem. So which was your first passion: writing or acting?

Ruth: Uuuh, good question I want to say acting…because that’s how I started…that’s how I set foot into the arts…and I love it…but, I’ve also always wanted to be a writer….it just took me longer to write something I was finally brave enough to share.

Chica Lit: How long will YLSE run and when will we get a new episode?

Ruth: There is something new up every Friday Ylse.net , YouTube or iTunes. One week it’s a webisode, the next week a ‘behind the scenes’ interview then the following Friday another webisode…and so on. We shot a total of six webisodes (in 2 ½ days…we had to with our budget.LOL)….but, we are gearing up for another twelve webisodes for season two!!!! This time with a writing team which includes, I’m thrilled to say, Herbert Siguenza from Culture Clash!

Watch Ylse episode 1:

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