NEW YORK (AP) — Thirty years after she starred in the telenovela "Quinceanera," Thalia makes her directorial debut with an HBO documentary about the importance in Latin culture of celebrating a girl's 15th birthday.
"15: A Quinceanera Story," premiering Tuesday, includes four episodes to be aired during consecutive nights. They go from a transgender teen who shares her celebration with her trans godmothers who didn't have a chance to have their own quinceanera to an amateur female boxer whose father was deported and whose devoted coach faces the same fate.
"This documentary comes from my need to tell the story of the Hispanic community, of the families that regardless of their social class, regardless of borders, make anything needed to celebrate a party where a girl will stop being a girl and will become the woman that's going to face her life from then on," Thalia said in a recent interview.
"It's such a beautiful story to see how families make every possible effort to give her a party ... to dress her with those dreamy dresses. And the union and the love, that to me was the important thing to share in these moments where everything around us, what we read in the newspaper, what we hear in the news, is negative, is upsetting, is about death, is about pain," the Mexican singer and actress said. "I want to bring some love, some light, some hope, some family, some romanticism, some dreams with this documentary."
Co-directed by Matthew O'Neill and executive produced by music mogul Tommy Mottola, who is Thalia's husband, "15: A Quinceanera Story" starts with an episode about Zoey, a Mexican-American transgender girl who Thalia says has been the most emotional for her.
"I think that seeing her beaming, happy, celebrating her 15 years of age with her trans-godmothers, who were also there and were seeing her as a milestone in these times, in this society we live in, I think is a truly striking, beautiful image to see."
She gave Zoey a special gift: a dress designed for her by Mitzy, the same designer who created Thalia's wedding dress in 2000.
Thalia, who starred in Televisa's 1987 "Quinceanera" — considered one of the most influential telenovelas of the time for tackling issues like substance abuse, date rape and gangs — didn't have a traditional quincenera party. She said she wanted "a totally different dress" in a totally different setting.
"I wanted a tube dress, close-fitting down to the ankles, with a band on my forehead and a giant bun, very '80s, and long gloves. And instead of a party hall I celebrated it in a nightclub," she said. "But when I did the telenovela the following year, that's when it hit me and I fell in love with all the tradition of the big dress, the dance partners, of that waltz that I didn't want to have but that I ended up having in the telenovela and it was magical.
"To me this is such an important, wonderful ... tradition. ... It is a family tradition that's very much us, that's very Latin, and it is beautiful."
Follow Sigal Ratner-Arias on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sigalratner .