Coronado’s Mariel Molino stars in Amazon’s first original movie in Spanish

Coronado actress Mariel Molino stars in Amazon's "Locas por el cambio"
Coronado actress Mariel Molino
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Locas por el cambio” (“Crazy for Change”) highlights the disparities between Mexico’s wealthy and working classes


The usual path to stardom, at least in the United States, is to take the long and often heartbreaking road to Hollywood.

But Coronado’s Mariel Molino chose a different route.

Instead, the bilingual actress got her start in Mexico City, working on telenovelas and Mexican comedies like “¡Muy padr3s!” and “El juego de las llaves.”

Now, she splits her time between San Diego and CDMX, where she is building a career in Latin-based film and TV.

“I chose Mariel Molino because El Molino is the bakery that has been in my family forever,” she wrote on her website. “My mother has given her life to El Molino, it is thanks to that bakery and my mother’s hard work that I have been able to pursue my career, my dream.”

That dream and hard work — which also included modeling jobs — has rewarded Molino with a starring role in Amazon’s first original movie in Spanish, “Locas por el cambio.” Translated as “Crazy for Change,” the comedy was released this past November on Amazon Prime. A theatrical release was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The movie, which is also dubbed in English, is a body swap comedy like “Freaky Friday” and “17 Again.” Only instead of parents and teens trading places, it’s two young women from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Paula, played by Molino, is a wealthy and entitled (but very fashionable) girl on the verge of marrying the wrong man; Paulina, played by Sofía Sisniega, is an overworked mother and manicurist who resents her place in life.

Though it has familiar themes you’d see in typical body swap comedies — magical forces and trying to fit in to unfamiliar surroundings — it cleverly illustrates the divisions between wealthy and working backgrounds. It also highlights what it’s like to live in two different worlds, something with which Molino is familiar.

Molino fell in love with acting as a student at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, where she performed in classic musicals like “Grease” and “Hairspray.” She recently shared her thoughts about her movie, what it’s like to act in two languages and her nontraditional journey to stardom.

A poster for Amazon Prime's "Locas por el cambio," starring Coronado's Mariel Molino (right).
(Amazon Prime)

Q: When did you realize you were drawn to acting?
A: When I stepped on stage at my first play. It was “The Wizard of Oz.” I was crow #3, LOL.

Q: How did you nurture your talents in San Diego?
A: I took a couple acting classes in San Diego but mostly through community and high school theater. I loved TV and film from a very young age and I knew I wanted to make movies!

Q: What was your first professional job?
A: I was an extra on “Glee.”

Q: What is it like to audition for both English and Spanish projects?
A: It’s different because each language triggers different emotions and memories so it’s exciting to see how that comes into play for different roles.

Q: Did you do any training in both languages?
A: I always have to do different accents in Spanish so I’m constantly learning new dialects. I also train my voice in singing for both as well.

Q: How does it feel to be in Amazon’s first Spanish-language film?
A: It honestly feels so surreal. It was definitely a silver lining to the pandemic. It was an emotional roller coaster because we didn’t know when our movie was going to premiere, or if it was even going to get released because of COVID. So when it got picked up by Amazon to be the first Spanish language film, we couldn’t be more proud. And it’s a Mexican film, so as a Mexican-American I’m very proud!

Q: Unlike other body-switch movies that are often about mothers and daughters or fathers and sons, this one is about going from one socio-economic class to another, why do you think this is an important story to tell?
A: It’s important because it’s a reality in Mexico and in many societies. There is a large disparity in Mexico and I think a story like “Locas tries to bridge the gap and create empathy. Furthermore, this body switch is a story about two women. We rarely see movies where both leads are women and aren’t defined by who they are to someone else ... someone’s mother, daughter, wife, etc. It’s a story about two women told through the eyes of a woman ... our director and writer Ihtzi Hurtado!

Mariel Molino (left) as Paula and Sofía Sisniega as Paulina in "Locas por el cambio."

Q: How did you shift between the two characters?
A: Sofía, my co-star, Ihtzi, our director, and I had about two months of rehearsals. I created the character of Paula, and Sofia created the character of Paulina. From there we showed each other the mannerisms, posture, the way each character walked, talked, ticks, etc. We would do mirror exercises where we would imitate one another and we went through the entire script like this multiple times.

Q: The movie is set in Mexico City, but do you think these issues are relevant in San Diego and Tijuana?
A: Definitely! The story addresses clash in culture, identity and class. Living at the border is exactly that — two places so close in proximity and yet so divided and with such different realities.

Q: Tell us about the fashion and style in this movie, which is really fun and colorful.
A: We were very lucky to have an amazing costume department headed by Atzin Hernández, and most of Paula’s outfits were handmade and designed by Eulogio Hurtado who is a famous Mexican designer. Paula’s style was very forward, she loved to take risks with colors and contrasts and you see that throughout the movie, and it’s an essential detail in the body switch as she even starts to adjust Paulina’s style.

Q: “Locas por el cambio” was released during a pandemic, how has that been?
A: At first it was a complete bummer. But if we were going to release in movie theaters, there was a big chance no one would go and see it. From an acting standpoint, that’s part of the romance of making movies — you want to see it on the big screen! But ultimately, the decision to go streaming was the best one. Now, our movie is available in over 240 countries which gives it the best distribution possible. I’m excited that people can see it from the safety of their own homes.

Q: When you’re in San Diego, what are some of your favorite spots to visit and things to do?
A: I really enjoy simple things and most have to do with food. I love to bike around the Hotel del Coronado, get an ice cream at MooTime Creamery, Tacos El Gordo has the best adobada hands down, Point Loma Seafoods with the family, and every Sunday I get coffee with my mom. It’s our little tradition and I love it.

Q: What have you been watching or binging during the pandemic?
A: The range will blow your mind. “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “The Crown,” “The Undoing,” “A Teacher,” “Unorthodox,” “Friends” (always) and “Hunters.”

Q: What would you say to bilingual kids trying to break into acting?
A: I would tell them to be open to new opportunities, sometimes we think Hollywood is the only way to break into acting. As we become more globalized and streaming comes to full force, there are so many avenues you can take to acting! I never thought I would move to Mexico City to pursue my dream of being an actor, but it has opened up so many amazing doors for me. Be open to international projects and talent. If that’s too risky, be open to places with smaller TV/film markets like Atlanta or Santa Fe.

“Locas por el cambio” is streaming on Amazon Prime. And look for Molino in the international Fox series, “La Negociadora.”