‘Mi Vida Loca’ Continues to Inspire

Created: 21 March, 2019
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Marielena Castellanos

Photo / Jose Islas

No one could have imagined the impact the film “Mi Vida Loca” would have had when it was first released back in 1993, but thirty 30 later, for many Chicanas, Chicanos, and Latinx, the film continues to be a source of pride and inspiration.

That excitement and pride was clearly evident at a special screening and fundraiser in Logan Heights celebrating the anniversary of the film as part of the San Diego Latino Film Festival this week.

“Mi Vida Loca” is a story about sisterhood, betrayal, and gang life, through the eyes of young Chicanas growing up in the 1990s in the Los Angeles barrio of Echo Park. The film was written and directed by Allison Anders, who lived in Echo Park and developed her own personal relationships with local homegirls. She also conducted extensive research before the filming the movie.

While it was acclaimed by some, the film also received criticism in a number of ways, such as perpetuating Latino stereotypes, and also for the ending, which is neither a completely happy or sad ending.

Those criticisms were found nowhere during the screening inside the large hall at Bread and Salt, where all the seats were filled with men and women of different ages, and many others stood throughout the entire screening of the film.

Instead cheers, applause, and comments of support greeted members of the cast who appeared at the screening.

Actress Seidy López, who played “Mousie,” talked about the how real homegirls are in the film, and she also explained how other Chicana gang members helped consult the actors and production crew during the filming of the movie.

“As an actress coming into the role, it felt like a huge responsibility for us. We were lucky. We did get the opportunity to work with the real girls. And we were mentored by the truth and reality,” López said.

López also talked about the women whose lives the actors portrayed, “You know, they were mothers, they were families and they were girls trying to figure out how to live and grow up while raising their children in a community at a time when there was a lot of danger and pressure.”

“It was real life for me, and an honoring experience,” said Veronica Contreras, who played “Stranger” and who now has her own business, works with at risk youth and was also one of the actual women who inspired the film.

“I got the best of both worlds. I’m street educated and I’m book educated,” Contreras also said, explaining what her life is like now to which she received a huge applause.

Angel Aviles, who played “Sadgirl” in the film, was also at the screening and explained how the real Chicana gang members reacted to their performances in the film.

“It didn’t matter where you were from. They knew that we wanted to give their lives justice, that we wanted to give a reflection of what it’s like to be brown in the inner city, that can be unforgiving, that can label you and can trap you into something that isn’t even the real life,” Aviles said.

Aviles also addressed the lack of films about Latinx communities at the end of the screening of the film.

“It’s shameful the lack of representation that has happened since then. We need more stories. Don’t wait for people to help you. Go find money for you to make your film. I don’t want to be an abuelita showing up here, showing this film to your grandchildren,” Aviles also said.