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Actor relishes role of activist Dolores Huerta

From left, Alicia Vikander as Gloria Steinem, Mónica Sánchez as Dolores Huerta and Janelle Monáe as Dorothy Pitman Hughes in the movie “The Glorias,” which is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. (Dan Mcfadden/LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Mónica Sánchez knows that each time she auditions, it’s like shooting an arrow at a star since the odds of landing a part are so long.

But when the New Mexico native auditioned to play Dolores Huerta in “The Glorias,” she hit the bull’s-eye.

The film is based on Gloria Steinem’s memoir, “My Life on the Road,” and is directed by Julie Taymor. The film was scheduled to play in theaters beginning Sept. 25, but it was moved to Amazon Prime Video, where it is currently streaming.

The story is told over the course of five decades as it follows Steinem’s journey within the battle for women’s rights and beyond.

The film also introduces a number of iconic women who had a profound influence on the movement, including Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Flo Kennedy, Bella Abzug, Wilma Mankiller and Huerta.

The film stars Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Janelle Monae, Lorraine Toussaint, Bette Midler and Kimberly Guerrero.

“When I arrived on set, it was so powerful,” she said. “To be on the set with that many women of color. And they weren’t background actors. We all had speaking roles.”

Stepping into Huerta’s shoes was intimidating, but Sánchez was up to the challenge.

bright spotShe immersed herself in Peter Bratt’s 2017 documentary, “Dolores,” and had conversations with Bratt about Huerta.

“I’ve never portrayed somebody while they were still alive,” she said. “It’s extremely daunting. Dolores is such a powerful presence and has this incredible beauty that emanates from her. I knew I wasn’t going to impersonate her. I decided to embody her in the scenes I’m in.”

Sánchez also had a few connections to the Chicana labor union activist.

Her mother, Petra Tovar Sánchez, was born in Dawson in 1928, two years before Huerta was born in the same town.

Then in 1990, Sánchez moved to California and became part of the El Teatro Campesino, which was formed in the fields by Luis Valdez and Agustin Lira in 1965 in Delano, California.

The theater company was the cultural arm of the United Farm Workers and the Chicano movement and was supported by César Chávez and Huerta.

“A peripheral geographic connection is there,” she said. “I know her daughter, and I’ve met Dolores over the years. When I sent in my résumé for the role, I sent in a photograph with me and Dolores in the Mission District in San Francisco.”

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