Zulay Henao – Fighting

August 28, 2009 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

She may be a lover and not a fighter, but don’t underestimate Colombian actress Zulay Henao’s passion for going after what she wants.

In her most recent film “Fighting,” which was just released on DVD and Blu-Ray Aug. 25, Henao plays Zulay Valez, a cocktail waitress who catches the eye of a street brawler played by Channing Tatum (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”).

During an interview with me, Henao talked about everything from piracy to her thoughts on fame and how she handles rumors about her personal life in the media.

Is it safe to say “Fighting” will be a new addition to your DVD collection at home?

Yes, I’m very proud and very excited about that. I actually have a movie night planned because some of my girl friends didn’t get to see it at the theater. So we’re going to sit around, watch the movie, laugh, and have some drinks.

Well, before I got on the phone with you I went to Amazon.com and saw I could order the movie for $19.95. Or I could go to another website and download it illegally and watch it for free. What do you think of that?

I think piracy is so wrong and not just for my movie. It’s really disappointing. My father just went to Colombia on vacation and some people told him, “Oh, we saw your daughter’s movie!” And he was like, “Really? It’s not at theaters here yet and it’s not on DVD.”

Explain to people how big a production actually is and why piracy could hurt employees that work behind the scenes.

Yeah, what you see on screen – the actors – that’s just a small fraction of what it takes to put a production together. It’s just a beautiful exact science the way everything comes together. I’m falling more and more in love with all the aspects of production as I work more. I think there are so many challenges for people to make one finished product. I wish more people could see that. Maybe then they wouldn’t be involved in that sort of thing.

The DVD is going to be released in both a rated and unrated version. Were any of your scenes cut from the movie that you hope are added back onto the DVD?

Yeah, there are a couple of scenes. There’s a scene between Terrence [Howard] and I that I know was cut out because it was the first time he and I worked together. It’s going to be interesting to see what scenes get put back to see if it changes any of the storyline a little bit. I don’t have any details, so I’m going to be just as surprised as everyone else.

Now that you’ve been in the industry for a while, how comfortable are you with the whole idea of celebrity?

My comfort level still needs to get to a place where I can say I am okay with it. I know when you go to red carpet events what it’s all about. And fortunately for me I haven’t really received much attention in my regular life. In terms of the concept of fame, I just want to do work that is great and if I get recognition for it I’ll be happy. But I don’t know about fame. I’m not really there yet, but I know it’s a very weird thing. There are a lot of pros and cons. I think anyone can be okay if they balance everything out and stay true to themselves and not compromise who they are.

How do you handle journalists who only want to talk about your personal life?

I’d rather not talk about it because there are so many things that just aren’t true. Those things actually bother me quite a bit. But those things are inevitable. I don’t even read them anymore. I’d rather talk about the work. In the beginning it’s flattering when people are talking about you, but when you see things that are constantly being taken out of context, it just bothers you.

Hypothetically speaking, is there anyone you would like to fight? For example, I would really like to fight the ShamWow guy.

(Laughs) Oh, he’s so annoying! Let’s see, hypothetically speaking? I know there is someone but I can’t think right now.

Well, maybe you can just help me tag team the ShamWow guy then.

Yes! I’ll be on the sidelines just in case you need a hand.


April 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Zulay Henao
Directed by: Dito Montiel (“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”)
Written by: Robert Munic (TV’s “The Cleaner”) and Dito Montiel (“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”)

With the sport of Mixed Martial Arts rising in popularity after every pay-per-view event each moth, it’s evident that film studios want to try to bank on the industry while its fan base is bloodthirsty for extra ground-and-pound moments.

While “Fighting,” is less about sanctioned matches than last year’s mainstream dud “Never Back Down,” it still follows the same blueprint. In that movie, Oscar-nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond”) played a mentor who takes a young, hungry, and easy-on-the-eyes fighter under his wing so he can win the respect of his classmates.

In “Fighting,” Hounsou is replaced with another Oscar nominee, Terrence Howard (“Hustle & Flow”), who plays Harvey Boarden, an overly cordial fight agent on the lookout for “hidden talent.” Here, Channing Tatum (“Stop-Loss”) plays the pretty-faced fighter, Shawn MacArthur, who has nothing to lose when he’s caught up in the world of underground brawls. When Harvey offers him five grand for his first fight, Shawn is all in without much question. What should be in question, however, is what Harvey actually sees in Shawn. That tidbit of information is for screenwriters to explain in the DVD commentary since they don’t do it in the movie.

What’s more bothersome about the script is that Shawn doesn’t really seem passionate about fighting. While the tagline of the movie is “Some Dreams are Worth Fighting for,” it’s unclear what that dream is. Most fighting movies pick something like respect, love, family, or survival. “Fighting” screenwriters choose money, which is a mediocre reason to get your protagonist bloody and bruised.

Nevertheless, Shawn fights; Shawn wins; Shawn falls for a nice waitress girl (Zulay Henao) who apparently likes bad boys. It all leads up to a final fight with a former high school wrestling teammate who has a personal feud against him. It’s a plot point that isn’t examined for more than a few scenes and therefore doesn’t make much sense on paper.

But who’s worried about the storyline when there are enough high-energy fight scenes to fill an entire fight card? Actually, let’s retract that statement and simply do a quick play-by-play of Shawn’s first fight in the movie. 1) Shawn is repeatedly knocked to the floor by a stronger fighter. 2) Shawn wins the fight when his opponent hits his head on a porcelain water fountain. 3) Shawn is praised by his entourage for his victory and later becomes “the biggest draw in town.”

Not much works for “Fighting” although its B-movie impression at the beginning is fairly promising. But with a script that goes cold quickly and some pitiful plot twists and dialogue, there isn’t much reason to cheer and no one to root for in this minor addition and major letdown to the genre.

Zulay Henao – Feel the Noise

June 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Performing in front of a large audience has always come naturally to newcomer Zulay Henao. Whether it was taking a ballet class as a child or modeling as a teenager, the spotlight is a place Henao has always felt comfortable.

In “Feel the Noise,” only the second feature film of her career and Jennifer Lopez’s third as a producer, Henao is cast as Carol “C.C.” Reyes, a Puerto Rican dancer known for her sexy moves in local clubs. As the love interest of Rob (Omarion Grandberry), an aspiring rapper from Harlem, C.C. decides to take the first step in introducing him to the world of reggaetón.

Although Henao is not originally from Puerto Rico, the country where most music historians would say reggaetón originated, she was raised in New York City after moving with her parents from their home in Colombia at the age of 4.

“I am very into the whole reggaetón movement,” Henao said during a phone interview last week. “I think it was one of the things that drew me to the script. I knew the music and it was really something I wanted to try and do.”

Because the film was only auditioning cast members in Los Angeles, Henao, who attended the School for Film and Television in New York, had to go about the process in a slightly different way: she had to mail in her dance audition.

“I ended up putting up myself on tape,” said Henao, adding that she is not a trained dancer, but loves to get on the dance floor whenever possible. “I had to film myself dancing, which was not fun. It’s just weird putting yourself on tape dancing and sending it across the country and having people critique it, but it worked out.”

So far, Henao says, the best part of starring in a new movie is the support she is getting from friends and family. Even when she sees herself on “Feel the Noise” movie posters, which are plastered around New York, she gets the most satisfaction from the excitement of those closest to her.

“When I’m on the street and I see the posters all over the place I think, ‘Wow! That’s me!’” Henao said. “It’s a good feeling, especially when your family sees it and they call you and they’re really excited for you. It’s kind of like a reminder of all the hard work you did.”

Now, with her second film wrapped up, Henao hopes to continue to evolve as an actress and learn from those in the industry – like J. Lo – who have any advice that will help her move forward to bigger and better things.

“I want longevity,” Henao said. “I want to do this for a very long time. Making smart choices now is the way to do that. A lot of things have happened in a short period of time and I hope that God continues to open these doors for me.”