Last Friday I walked into class fully expecting to participate in a Skype video conference with a famous telenovela actress in Venezuela. I was beyond shocked when I turned to see that the late straggler to class was Marisa Román, the actress herself! What an incredible privilege and opportunity it was to take part in such an intimate gathering with one of the most talented actresses in Venezuela.
During that 55 minute period, Marisa touched on almost every single topic that we will study in Dr. A’s telenovela class this semester. But the issue that I found most fascinating is the one that has fascinated me from the beginning of the course. It is the debate over whether telenovelas should do more that solely entertain their audiences. It was really neat to get an actor’s perspective on the matter.
Marisa seemed to agree with both points of view – that telenovelas should entertain but also do something more for their audiences. She explained that the high level of media censorship in Venezuela presents telenovelas with the obligation to inform as well as to entertain. In her country, where education level is low and political turmoil is high, television must play an additional role aside from entertainment—it must educate. Marisa said that she and others in the industry would be taking the easy way out if they did not help address the pressing issues facing Venezuelans.