Many of you know that many moons ago I worked at Univision Records (now defunct- sold to Universal Records) as National Publicity Manager. Boy! we had it all, radio, TV, “synergy” and talent to boot. We were the #1 Latin record company in the U.S. and well, had the luxury of experimenting and introducing new genres. In 2004, we introduced to the world the Urban Regional movement; a fusion of Banda Mexican music mixed with the streets’ urban Hip Hop beats. Reggaeton had nothing on us; it didn’t even register in radio airwaves and Univision TV in a spirit of “synergy” with the record label and its radio partners made of the Urban Regional genre a movement all its own. Artists at the forefront of this musical movement were Akwid, Jae-P (keep an eye out for a future piece on this one), Flakiss (the only female Latin rapper in Spanish music at the time aside from Ivy Queen and La Mala Rodriguez, as well as Mexiklan, David Rolas (now with Latino 96.3 FM in LA) and Crooked Stilo.
So why the history lesson you ask? and what does it all have to do with Director David Ayer’s current box office smash End of Watch (Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, América Ferrera)? Well picture this… Arclight Cinema Hollywood, on a recent sunny and hot Saturday LA afternoon. I’m with two dear friends, one of them Justino Aguila, West Coast Latin Features Editor for Billboard Magazine and as the movie gets going something crazy happened. A few minutes into the film, a scene opens with crazy gangsters in a mini van being driven by a crazy gangster girl. Camera pans to driving girl and there she was, on a Hollywood screen, the girl, the artist I had met in 2003 and who I helped launch her Latin hip hop musical career… “La Flakiss,” AKA Yahira Garcia.
Justino turns to me as I turn to him, our jaws wide open and with the same face of disbelief… like, is that who we think it is? Can it be Flakiss? And guess what? It sure was. My sense of pride and happiness for an artist I disconnected from when I left the music industry was there, before my eyes in a major box office hit, sharing credits, scenes and screen time with Gyllenhaal, Ferrera and Peña as a seasoned actress doing her thing and doing it quite well.
As my buddy Manny Ruiz of Hispanic PR Blog had told me earlier, the film was one not to be missed and he gave plenty of reasons why, but primarily, he said that it was a positive film about Latinos. Now, at first sight, you may not get that impression, but as you dig deeper and you follow the plot and the premise of the story, you realize that Ruiz was actually right on the money. While Flakiss may play a crazy, perhaps to many, stereotypical Latina gangster, Peña on the other hand is the complete opposite of her, as is America Ferrera’s Lesbian officer character. Peña is not only the voice of reason for Gyllenhaal, he represents everything the latter is not or has not: family values, love of family life, culture and self-identity.
To call Flakiss’ work a “breakout performance in 2012” is no stretch, especially when you hear the story as to how she got the role and how she was discovered. Needless to say, after viewing the movie I immediately went to today’s 411/911 people locator, Facebook, and it worked. I located my old friend and I simply sent her a message to congratulate her on her performance and her new-found talent, acting!
To my surprise, Flakiss immediately responded and well, the rest is history. We had an awesome long phone conversation, got all caught up with our lives and the following is just a quick summary of why Flakiss is back. Yes, improved, remade, remastered and revamped as an actress. Music is still one of her passions and in the future, expect more from this versatile chica that came out of the barrio a winner.
Perhaps the most understated and best kept secret of the season has to be, hands down, Yahira “Flakiss” Garcia’s role as LaLa in David Ayer’s box office hit End of Watch. Playing the main female villain, Yahira, a native Angelena from South Central LA and former Univision Records recording artist better known as Flakiss, her MC alias, came to the role with zero acting experience and pretty much pinching the part from Hollywood royalty of the likes of Michelle Rodriguez and America Ferrera (rumor has it, they coveted LaLa’s part).
After 3 albums under her belt her recording career came to a halt in 2006, as music industry declined and her label (Univision Records) was sold to Universal, Flakiss found herself at the end of the road feeling like every door was closing on her.
With the realities of her tough surroundings and the end of a short-lived musical career as one of the few female Latina rappers in the U.S., Yahira was about to seek employment at a local McDonald’s after applying for a job with a temp agency when director David Ayer came knocking to her door. To her surprise, Ayer and his wife Mireya had been fans of her Latin rap music and they had her in mind for LaLa’s character.
And that my friends is a TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY! Go get em’ Flakiss… SI SE PUEDE!