During the third and final day of Billboard Latin Music Week — the longest-running and biggest Latin music industry gathering in the world — superstar actress and producer Kate Del Castillo graced the stage to discuss her hit show La Reina del Sur.
Seated alongside the show’s composer, Carlos Rafael Rivera, the two — who walked out the show’s dramatic title music — discussed the importance of music in TV and how it has helped track the growth of Castillo’s character Teresa Mendoza.
As Castillo says, having played this role for over 12 years, she knows her “from the inside out.” Yet still, thanks to Rivera’s work, music has helped not only soundtrack but enhance her journey from girlfriend of a drug trafficker to running a cartel herself.
“The tone of the story is different,” says Rivera. “It’s actual espionage, along the lines of Mission Impossible, so the music established that tone.” Adds Castillo: “He brings it to a level you can’t imagine. The music can crate something better for the scene – or f–k it up.”
Rivera calls the show’s music a “love letter to Latin America,” detailing how the team traveled — from Mexico to Colombia to Peru and more — to authentically capture sounds and instruments from each region, creating a wide and all-encompassing library to pull from.
Rivera has had a storied career as a composer, most recently and notably working on music for the Netflix hit Queen’s Gambit. But he says it wasn’t until he got the gig with La Reina del Sur that his late mother told him, “You finally made it,” to which the crowd laughed.
When asked by moderator Jesús Triviño (TIDAL’s senior director for Latin, global) how he would advise composing a track in the plainest of terms, Rivera replied: “You pray and hope you don’t get fired.”
He then expanded, comparing the craft to carpentry and saying it takes time and a lot of hard work. It’s something he and Castillo have in common. She herself has long hustled in the industry as a Mexican “living to better myself and find more opportunities” in the States, which have extended to both acting and production with the launch of her own Cholawood Productions company.
Much like the trailer for La Reina season three teased as the beginning of the panel, there’s much more to come for these two.