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Comedian Herbert Siguenza On His Role In Pixar’s ‘Coco’

November 30, 2017 1:29 p.m.

Comedian Herbert Siguenza On His Role in Pixar’s ‘Coco’

GUEST:

Herbert Siguenza, playwright-in-residence, San Diego Repertory Theatre

Related Story: Comedian Herbert Siguenza On His Role In Pixar’s ‘Coco’

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's a movie that could have been a disaster in the early days of Disney's animated film cocoa, the entertainment Corporation try to trademark the phrase Día de los Muertos. It could have been a disaster but it's turned out to be a box office sensation on both sides of the border. What happened to turn things around? My next guest as part of the reason. He was hired to work on Coco. Joining me is Herbert Siguenza. Welcome to the show.It afternoon.Considering how the concept for this movie began, were you leery of getting involved in it question markI heard about the fiasco with the name as a copyright and that was a disaster. Everyone was up in arms in that especially me. My friend did cartoons about things like this. What is ironic is they reach out to him when they wanted to change things around and other Latin advisors to come in and tell him what should we do. I was one of many cultural of visors that went to Pixar to watch and hear the story and we gave our notes and they were very receptive about our notes in our concerns about the language, the music the look of the film and it was very wise of them to do that because we have a real authentic film that's unapologetically Mexican. I really think it's a Mexican American point of view.There was a reason that Disney wanted to trademark Día de los Muertos. Does it still revolve around the holiday?It's the background of the story. The stories about family remembering your family members, treating your elders with respect. These are prime examples of what Latino families are all about. These are our codes. I think they got those codes so well in this film.You were brought on as a consultant and ended up voicing two characters in the film. Tell us about that.When I went up there to do some consultation, I sent you know I do voices. And they called me a month later and I did voices for two uncles. They are twins.Something that that non-Latino guy from Ohio was talking about one think he says he did in addition to bringing on a whole bunch of people who knew are about mixing culture than he does is he spent some time living with families and Mexico. Do you think the added something as well?I think when you do research like that it adds. Culture clash we been doing site-specific works were we go to communities and interview people and we spent time with them that were, and the things you see and experience during a family reunion or dinner is seeping into your pores.Do you know of some things that got change in the film to make it more authentic?We saw early versions of the story and narration, they asked us our opinion. I did notice the little boy calls his mom or his grandmother by her first name and it really struck me. A little boy would never call his mother by her first name or he would say mama and her name. So I told him that and they changed it. I didn't see the film until the red carpet opening and I was falling. Tears were coming out of my eyes. Is very hard for me to cry but they really got it right.That is what we've been hearing that this really is an emotional experience.I think we cry about how great they got it and how beautifully they captured our culture, our humor in our music. It was a sigh of relief.Just to step back from how pleased you are with the final result, some might argue that the Disney and Pixar might never have had to go out looking for Latino consultants if there had been more Latino sitting in high positions at Pixar and Disney. Is that kind of lack of representation at the top of the intraday bit scale a problem?Yes. It's nice to say we should be around the table and we should be in the studios but the fact is you go to the studios and you don't see us. UCS as the janitors and in lower level positions. You don't see us making any kind of decision-making. That will take years. The movie still takes place in Mexico. What I want to see the future is I want to see a Latin film of them were it takes place in San Antonio, Texas or Tucson Arizona or East LA. I think were still seen as foreigners and I think this film perpetuates that. They do it better but it still perpetuates that we are foreigners.As part of culture clash into your work, you spent your career making sure that the stories of Latinos are told. Where do you see this success of cocoa falling in that spectrum? Is an important culturally that this movie is a big success?Every success that is Latino is success for everyone and for all of us. I think when culture clash is successful at the uterus and we usually see the next season and other playwrights being produced or another Latino story being told. So there is no doubt in my mind now Pixar is thinking what is the next cocoa. Hopefully we'll take it for granted and hopefully the next story is better.I been speaking with the member of the culture clash and most recently the voice on the Disney film cocoa. Thank you.