Blowing the roof off the beauty queen factory. Bárbara López on “Señorita 89” and on being part of a beloved queer couple

By mtrasandes | February 27, 2022

“Pretty on the outside, scary on the inside” describes the sumptuous mountain lair, La Encantada, where a group of women vying to become Miss Mexico are taken in the new series Señorita 89 from Pantaya and Starzplay available Feb. 27. Ostensibly arriving at the picturesque and remote location to compete with one another, nefarious players soon appear in this thriller with something to say about beauty and the business of women’s bodies.

Director, showrunner and co-writer Lucía Puenzo described the world as a “factory of queens” in a recent interview in Variety. Puenzo, an acclaimed Argentine director, worked on Señorita 89 with executive producers Juan de Dios Larraín and Pablo Larraín (the director of Spencer) and their company Fabula along with co-producer Fremantle.

Bárbara López co-stars in Señorita 89, along with actress Coty Camacho (Ángeles), who also had a queer role in Desenfrenadas on Netflix. Rounding out the cast are Ilse Salas (Güeros), Ximena Romo (This Is Not Berlin), Natasha Dupeyron (La Boda De Mi Mejor Amigo), Mónica del Carmen (Asfixia), Mabel Cadena (El Baile De Los 41), Aida López (Monarca) and Leidi Gutiérrez (Chicuarotes).

GLAAD recently caught up with López, who in Señorita 89 plays Dolores or Miss Guerrero, a complex character with a drug problem. López tells GLAAD the role was one of her most challenging because of the character’s many facets. LGBTQ fans in the U.S. and across Latin America have known of López’s work since she became part of a queer couple of Juliana (López) and Valentina (Macarena Achaga) on Amar a Muerte. Fans delighted in the relationship and dubbed them Juliantina. Amar a Muerte grossed a viewership of nearly 1.4 million in just the first week of its premiere according to Forbes. Numerous fan clubs and internet pages, in Spanish and English, celebrate this representation. López and Achaga have been active allies, attending Mexico City’s Gay Pride.

López says her fans’ support and the many notes she still receives mean a lot to her. During our interview, mostly in Spanish, López told GLAAD she’s grateful for her queer fans, who remain supportive of her work, including attending a Mexico City play she currently co-stars in. López says she knew playing a lesbian woman was important but was taken aback by just how much people needed to see themselves represented in entertainment.

“Juliana Valdés may have been the most important character I’ve played. Because it was a watershed moment. When I was told about the role, that it would be two young women who fall in love and that it would be on network television, I thought what a great space and opportunity to discuss something that isn’t discussed. I have to say I didn’t understand the magnitude of what this represented. I thought it would be interesting and that’s it, but I didn’t realize the real need there was to talk about an LGBT story … It opened a discussion and, if I can dare to say, after this story, after Juliana and Valentina, we started to see more LGBT stories on television. That’s a great honor. And I think it’s really important change. … We all need to feel represented in some way.”

Señorita 89 will be available on Pantaya Feb. 27