Luis Zahera and Nerea Barros: from the anecdote with drug traffickers to taking care of grandparents during the pandemic

So much Nerea Barros What Luis Zahera they are from Santiago de Compostela (she, from 1981 and he, from 1966), they treasure a Goya in their showcases and they are from the quarry of actors that emerged from Galician regional television. Now they match Operation Black Tidethe Amazon Prime Video miniseries shot in his homeland and inspired by a real case.

Their characters greatly influence the protagonist of the series, Nando (Álex González), but in a very different way. He, for better, as her boxing trainer, and she, for worse, as the cousin who introduces him to the world of drug trafficking.

Nerea Barros: I knew they were going to put me as the bad one. Gema is a woman who has been in this company all her life, she has studied for it, and she is clear that the business is above all else. Her Achilles heel is Nando and she goes for him because she knows of his qualities, she is from her family and she feels a physical attraction towards him. But she can’t get carried away by emotions because that means death.

Luis Zahera: In my case I am Nando’s coach, the one who tries to get him on track and get him out of that Galicia that is reflected and that has that terrible part, in which there is no hope and where people leave for the so-called easy money. In table work we wondered if when he asked him to stay to train he did it out of selfishness or out of affection and generosity, so that Nando would have another world. I want to believe that it is for the second, because I identify with that type of coach who gets very involved in the life of his pupil.

Do you know many Nandos, many people who have thrown away that easy money?

Luis Zahera: Yes, I spend the summer in a complicated area called the cocaine triangle, between Vilagarcia, Cambados and Villa de Arousa. One day Miguel Ángel Silvestre called me to prepare a role and I introduced him to people in the sector. He asked one of them: Why do you dedicate yourself to this? And the other, like a good Galician, answered him with another question. He said to him: Where are you from? When Miguel Ángel replied that he was from Castellón, he asked him what they did in his land to live. He told him that there was a lot of pottery and the drug dealer told him: If I had been born in Castellón, I would make pottery, but I was born around here.

Nice anecdote.

Luis Zahera: There is that link with transportation, which is what Galicians do, and it becomes an endemic problem. That’s why you know Nandos who are doing very well and others who have been in prison for years. But most of them end badly, consuming… These stories of drug traffickers persecute us, they are already a cinematographic genre. And then there are the stories of deep Galicia. Sorogoyen just rolled as bestas and Galicia looks like the interior of Syria!

And doesn’t it make you angry that Galicia is always associated with the stories of drug traffickers?

Luis Zahera: A little. Let them talk about Nerea, who is an actress who is also a nurse, let them talk about R&D… Or let them talk about Feijoo! (laughs).

Nerea Barros: I also understand that there is a bit of anger and that many other things could be discussed. But I have the feeling that this always happens everywhere: in Mexico, in Africa… It’s like they pigeonhole us into a character, they know it works and they go for it. Then there’s also a part of saying: well, what’s up? If it is a part of us. I like that deep Galicia that is very difficult to portray in a balanced way every day. That our history is of drug traffickers? We are carriers. Just as I suspected that Luis, where he spent the summer, had to know something, I also tell you that Galicians normally don’t know drug traffickers.

“In Galicia the stories of drug traffickers persecute us”

Come on, you have been further away from that world.

Nerea Barros: I had no idea about the submersible. But in the 1980s my brothers did experience that and that, suddenly, in the most coastal area there were people who had serious problems when they were so young because drugs entered very strongly.

Taking advantage of the fact that both are from Santiago, rate the accent of Álex González in the series, who, being from Madrid, plays a Galician.

Nerea Barros: I’m a superfan! I think it’s one of the best works I’ve seen from Alex. He has worked his ass off in the fight scenes. And with Galician… Yes, I’m from there but when I have to put on a Galician accent I always work with a linguist because it’s a very sensitive issue. Our coach hesitated and told me: Oh, the man from Madrid, who is going to put the accent better than you!

Nerea, you have recovered your old profession as a nurse during the pandemic. How did you take this step?

Coincidentally, I had just shot my first film as a director in Uzbekistan. I always trust my instinct a lot and it told me that something was wrong, and that there were two weeks left before everything started. Then the alert began and, together with my partner, who is a documentary filmmaker, we decided to make a documentary of what we saw happening in Madrid.

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It would be a harsh experience seeing the most extreme cases.

For me it has been a very hard experience, but it also teaches you a lot. We shot from dawn to dusk in the residences, in the Almudena cemetery, in Ifema, and I was going crazy with what was happening with the grandparents. The legacy they have is what will make us find balance and not kill ourselves as a species. We are losing ground. I didn’t understand why the most important thing we have was dying like this. So I called one of the residences where I had shot, which was very disturbed, and told them that I was an unemployed nurse who wanted to work. After two months she discovered that she was an actress and she jumped a little crazy. So it was hard, but in the end it gives you more than you give.

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