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Exclusive: The Narcos Queenpin: Cristina Umaña

They say, “Mala hierba nunca muere (bad weed never dies).” In the case of Pablo Escobar, it just took longer than usual. And, in season 2 of Narcos, everyone and their mama tried to kill Escobar. One of his main enemies is drug lord Judy Moncada, a fictitious character, exceptionally portrayed by Colombian actress Cristina Umaña (Capadocia). She’s about the business—the business of killing Pablo.

During season 2 of Narcos, you seem very angry and annoyed as Judy. How did you get into that mind frame?

It was a very interesting experience for me as an actress to be able to embody a role like Judy Moncada. I focused a lot in the women paisas [Medellin natives], who are strong women. Paisa women, in general, are women who put their families on their back. They’re very strong women so I based myself a bit off that. Obviously, Judy is in the world of narco trafficking. It’s an intense world that is very macho. She’s a woman that wants to move forward and not be sidelined for being a woman, actually the complete opposite. That was the job I focused on in creating: this strong woman in a world of men.

Is Judy based on a real life person?

No, Judy is a fictional character. She represents a very important part of the story. She represents and symbolizes that part of the Moncada family. They played a very big role in the fall of Pablo. That’s a part of the story that will be told in the second season.

As a Colombia native, how was it to live through Escobar’s reign of terror?

I was a teenager in the ‘80s and ‘90s in Colombia. I remember perfectly that moment and it was a difficult moment for us as a society. As a society we lived with fear to go out day-to-day because anything could happen to us. We knew this was a problem that was attacking our society. It gave us a lot of anguish and vulnerability as a society.

 How do you view Escobar?

I think that Pablo Escobar was a very confused man. He made a really bad decision that not only was detrimental to his family, but also a whole nation. He was a man who let his ego win and walked all over a whole country. It’s very sad because he was an intelligent man with many capabilities but he took the wrong path.

Why is it so important to tell this story right now?

I think that there is an interest from people all around the world to understand who this man was. Obviously he has been very infamous because he was one of the biggest narcos in the world. There are many curiosities about him. Narco trafficking is a decision that won’t bring any good, not for the person who traffics the drugs, the family and people close to them, or the countries they are from, or for the world in general. I think it’s important to watch and mention that the business of narco trafficking is not a subject for who creates it, distributes it, but also who consumes it. There is something that needs to be examined by society to be able to stop that business. While there are consumers, there will always be producers who are going to profit from it.

Watching you operate as Judy, you could’ve easily portrayed drug lord Griselda Blanco in the HBO biopic Jennifer Lopez just secured. What does Lopez have to do to fully embody that type of character?

It’s a complex character. They have to be tough women, because of the culture. And when they enter that narco world, that toughness reaches its max potential because they have to move forward in a world of machos. She needs to be stronger and tougher than any macho that stands next to her. I think you have balls to be able to live, move and run a world of narco trafficking.

How is drug culture in Colombia post-Escobar?

It’s difficult to speak about that because I feel the business has transformed. There hasn’t been, thank God, another Escobar. Now they have different people that move differently. The business keeps going on its path and I think the topic is that it touches the society and started taking power over them. That’s why I think all of us need to be conscious that the business of narco trafficking affects all of us. If we want to stop it, we have to stop it from the root. The consumer has to have a big responsibility in that as well.

 You were amazing in the cult classic, Capadocia, as La Colombiana. Any similarities between Judy and La Colombiana?

I think that they are two different characters. La Colombiana was a victim. Judy Moncada isn’t a victim. She wants to dominate and take advantage of what is happening. La Colombiana wasn’t interested in the business; she was interested in surviving. Judy wanted to dominate and run it as well.

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