Interview with young Cuban actor Hector Medina, star of films Viva and La cosa humana

He is possibly not fully aware of his capability and of what he has accomplished only six years after he graduated from the National School of Arts (ENA). Though still very young, he has played characters with complex psychological features and strong internal conflicts. Because of his convincing performances, such great film and theatre directors such as Carlos Díaz and Gerardo Chijona, respectively, have made him an invaluable part of their productions.

Television has also opened its doors to him. Yet, filmmaking is the art form that has catapulted him to fame, inside Cuba and abroad. Alejandro, the character he played in Chijona's film Boleto al Paraíso (2010), earned him the Adolfo Llauradó Award for Best Actor granted by the Caricatos Agency of Cuba's Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), and the Award for Best Actor granted at the Ibero-American Film and Video Festival, Fortaleza, Brazil.

Moviegoers enjoyed his performances in the films Viva by Irish filmmaker Paddy Breathnach and Chijona's La cosa humana, which were screened during the recently closed International Festival of New Latin American Film.

In Viva, he played Jesús, an adolescent who tries hard to assume his homosexual identity amid a very hostile environment, also having a difficult relationship with his father, who was released after serving 15 years in prison, charged with murder. (Watch the trailer for Viva on Youtube here)

La cosa humana is the third film in which he has been directed by Gerardo Chijona, who said in press conference that Medina will perform in his next film; hence corroborating the criteria made by many people that the young actor features as one of Chijona's fetishist actors. (Watch the trailer for La Cosa Humana on Youtube here)

In this subtle comedy, he plays Maykel, a thief who aspires to become a writer who would find himself involved in absurd situations in his attempts to win the prize of an important literature contest.

"When I first read the script I noticed the complexity of the text. I had never made comedy for a film and, as a young actor, I wanted to make jokes. But it was just the opposite, I had to be loyal to the script," he recalled.

For those who are familiar with his outstanding career, it's hard to believe that Héctor Medina joined the world of acting by chance.

"It all started because I wanted to get rid of mathematics. I had this friend who could skip that subject every afternoon. I asked him how he did it to get permission from school. He told me that he was taking an acting course at the local Culture House. So, I joined that workshop and ended up liking acting a lot. Later on, I made the entrance exams for the National School of Arts (ENA); but was not accepted. Then, I joined the Art Instruction School. Once there, a professor told me: "you do not belong to this school; do the ENA exams once again." I'm here thanks to him. I did the exams and made it."

It was there where he met his idol actor: Luis Alberto García, to whom he owes a lot, because he played his first leading role for television thanks to him, he admits.

He also owes part of his professional growth to two directors that have closely worked with him: Carlos Díaz, in the plays Gotas de agua sobre piedras calientes, Noche de Reyes and El sueño de una noche de verano; and Gerardo Chijona, in the films Boleto al Paraíso, Esther en alguna parte and La cosa humana.

"I'm still learning from Carlos Díaz. I have learned with him that a person, who is good by nature, is also good at acting. His birthdays are celebrated at the theater company's headquarters and it's a like a show; always full of friends from all over Cuba, Spain and many parts of the world. It's very beautiful.

"The most complex work I have done with him was the play Gotas de agua sobre piedras calientes, also starring Héctor Noas, Ismersys Salomón and Clara de la Caridad. I enjoyed the work but it was very hard indeed.

"As of Chijona, I do not know what is it that he has seen in me, but I hope he continues to see it. I feel lucky and, like a good soldier, I have tried hard to accomplish my missions. We have become a large family of directors, actors, and the staff in general.

"When he called me for the film La cosa humana, I was living far away, in Matanzas (province). I did not want to become a slave of works that I did not like to be able to pay a rented room in Havana. The film provided a new boost to my career, and I was ready for the things that would come later on. So, it was a good year for me.

With experience in the three main mass media: film, theater and television, Héctor Medina says he prefers the seventh art, unlike most actors, who prefer theater. Both theater and film "have their charms: theater, like film, is magical," he noted. Yet, he pushes television into the background.

"The experience on television was not good. Not because I did not enjoy my work, which was recognized, but because it's a tough work that entails huge sacrifices and the Cuban television lacks economic resources.

"With theater I have had nice experiences. When I first came on stage I realized that the most important is to enjoy it and that is what happens when one works with the El Público Theater Company.

"As of film, it is the one that I enjoy the most. It's like a school to me, because it entails lot of thinking and feelings. But the actor must be intelligent too and be able to know where to find light, but also look at that other person, to reread the script and provide it with different interpretations… It's very complex, but that is precisely what makes you enjoy it the most."

Link to original interview by Cubarte

Watch the trailer for Viva on youtube here (with English subtitles)

Watch the trailer for La Cosa Humana on youtube here (with English subtitles)