Maria Conchita Alonso
Actress, Singer, Songwriter, Activist and Producer—She Does it All!
text by Pat Tyson
photos by José Luis Lozano
With her sensual voice, Maria Conchita Alonso has mesmerized audiences for three decades. This internationally known, multi-talented Latina was on the move this past year, with concerts in Colombia, Miami and Mexico and will be again performing in Guadalajara this coming June 17th.
“In the summer I am doing a musical in Miami, Menopause, in Spanish,” she enthuses. “The idea is to tour in the US cities where there are more Latinos, and end in Off- Broadway next Year.” With her producing partner, Alonso is turning her energies to working on a pilot for a bilingual talk show. She has always loved the stimulation of Broadway but does more live shows worldwide than is possible there.
“There are too many rules,” she states. “It’s all set, scripted and I can’t interact with the audience.” Doing her own live concerts gives her the freedom to do whatever she pleases in her shows—talk or whatever, without rules.
“I like to be able to stop the band, take a break from singing, to have fun with the audience,” she says.
For Alonso, nothing compares with being on stage, to feel the love and positive energy flowing back and forth between herself and the audience. With Latin music so popular across a wide spectrum, there are many—Latinos and gringos alike—eager to flock to her concerts.
However, movies are very much in her future. The Lords of Salem will be released in the United States around Halloween. The writer, director and producer, Rob Zombie, is a well-known heavy metal musician and director of horror films such as “Halloween.” Alonso is also producing and starring in three different movies that deal with highly sensitive issues. One of them is Courage, a Hollywood production, but shot in different countries.
“It is a political love story that concerns the situation in Venezuela which has been living under Hugo Chavez, the president,” she explains. “It will be in English.” A second movie on her demanding agenda, El Secreto del Retrato, is a Spanish-speaking film that involves incest, political and religious corruption. “It is directed by Janet Alvarez, who is also the script writer and producer, but won’t be produced in Hollywood.”
A third film, San Martin of Porres, is the true story of the first black saint of the Catholic church. Another—a silent movie, has been completed. Return to Babylon is about Hollywood in the thirties, and how the lives of some stars tragically ended. It will be entered into film festivals, the subject matter will certainly intrigue its audiences.
In development is a reality show describing her comeback into the music scene, the process of recording a CD, shooting a music video and launching it. “We already shot some footage this past May while I was in Mexico City at the National Auditorium concert with GranDiosas,” says Alonso. “It is a concept of five stars from the ’80s and ’90s,” Alonso added. Her reality show is projected to start in October.
During her career Alonso has performed in more than fifty films. These include such notable movies as Moscow on the Hudson, opposite Robin Williams. In Extreme Prejudice she co-starred with Nick Nolte; she also appeared with an impressive cast that included Glen Close, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Winona Ryder and Antonio Banderas in House of Sprits. For the movie Scarface, starring Al Pacino, she co-wrote and performed the theme song Vamos a Bailar.
Alonso was the first non-American-born Latina to star on Broadway in the 1985 production of Kiss of The Spider Woman. Later, the opportunity to demonstrate her comedic side arrived in 2002, when she played Ynes in Oscar and Felix: A New Look At The Odd Couple, a play by Neil Simon. Many awards have rightly come her way, including Best Actress at the Alma Awards, a couple of Nosotros Awards for Best Actress, and the Pioneer Award from the 2006 La Femme Film Festival.
Originally given the title of “The Latin Pioneer” of the entertainment industry, she has paved the career paths of other Latin actors and musicians who have successfully crossed over into mainstream American television, film and music. Unsurprisingly, People En Español magazine once called her “One of the Most Beautiful People.” She has a number of CDs to her credit, the first three went gold, she’s also had one double gold and one platinum… and she has been nominated three times for a Grammy Award. She credits Mexico, which is very dear to her heart, for helping her to make her name as a singer internationally.
“I love it all,” she exclaims, “I had a place in Puerto Vallarta and hope to have something there again some day.” Looking at her future and thinking about places she might like to settle eventually, “I’d like to be on a beach in Mexico, in Madrid, plus Los Angeles—and Venezuela, if democracy returns.” She maintains homes in Los Angeles and Miami, where her mother lives presently, “Although I’m selling Mom’s house, she wants to come live with me in L.A,” Alonso reveals.
Only four years old when her far-reaching career began, Maria Conchita played a mouse in The Nutcracker in Cuba; she obtained her first modeling job that year, also! However, her career started officially at age 14 when she won the Miss Teen-Ager of Venezuela and then Miss Teen-Ager of the World in Portugal . In 1975, she won Miss World Venezuela in London, becoming 6th runner up for Miss World.
Born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, June 29, 1957, she moved with her closely-knit family to Caracas, Venezuela, shortly after Fidel Castro’s communist regime takeover of Cuba. There she grew up with her mother, Maria Conchita Bustillo, father, Ricardo Alonso and two older brothers, Ricardo and Roberto.
In addition to her high school education, she took classes in modern dance, ballet, piano, guitar, voice, acting and languages, which certainly proved her to be well prepared for a career in the world of entertainment. She is now an American citizen, having immigrated to the United States in 1982.
In spite of her full and exciting life, she still has time to be an animal activist, educating people regarding the plight of animals and working on saving the lives of those that are in shelters. She speaks up for the rights of children and other issues confronting young people. She is also involved politically in such causes as pro-democracy and anti-communist activities, showing the truth of regimes such as those in Cuba and Venezuela. With all of this going on in her life, we might wonder if she has time for r omance!
“I’ve been together with Fernando from Colombia for three years now—and we are living together,” she replies happily. “He is also my personal manager and will be starring in our reality show.” So, perhaps this is her “knight in shining armor” who will carry off this beautiful, gifted enchantress on his white charger.