To many fans around the world, Kate del Castillo is as strong-willed as the characters she portrays. Best known for her work on La reina del Sur, the Mexican actress has spent the better part of this decade embroiled in a drama that could very well have taken place in that gritty narco telenovela. Joining Gloria, Lili and Emily Estefan on Red Table Talk: The Estefans, del Castillo talked at length about her infamous meeting with drug trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán and the fallout that ensued.
A longtime friend of the Estefan family, the Ingobernable star came to the titular red table eager to talk about the moments she’s felt most vulnerable. She knows she’s often thought of as a strong woman but, as she explained, she’s long had moments where that strength has been tested.
“It was a violent marriage. It was a very bad marriage," Kate said, detailing her rocky relationship with former Mexican soccer player Luis García Postigo.
She also shared how, looking back, she’d missed warning signs as she found herself in an unsafe environment. It was a year and a half before she mustered the strength to leave that relationship.
“You’re a mujer exitosa, how could this happen to you?” she recalled asking herself -- a question that was later echoed by fans and press alike when she went public with her allegations.
“Sometimes people criticize me because I’ve been married twice, because I have no kids," Kate continued. "So I just want to tell the people, 'It’s because I wanted to. It’s my choice. Sometimes people don’t have a choice. I’m living the life I want to live.'”
But if the controversy surrounding her first marriage felt unbearable, that was nothing compared to what was to come when, in 2012, Kate tweeted out she trusted known drug cartel leader "El Chapo" more than she did the Mexican government.
It was that tweet which, as she explained, eventually led to the now infamous meeting she brokered with "El Chapo" back in October 2015, shortly after he’d broken out of prison.
“My life changed,” she shared, explaining how being in contact with his lawyers to discuss getting life rights to his story eventually led her to book a private plane to meet him while he was still a fugitive. Joining her on that trip were two film producers as well as Sean Penn, who, unbeknownst to the actress, had secured a contract with Rolling Stone magazine to interview the Sinaloa cartel leader.
“His article was full of shit,” she added, admitting that she’d been blindsided by the Oscar winner’s printed interview as well as the way it had left her open to scrutiny from both the U.S. and the Mexican government.
“He used me as a bait. And then he never protected me. And risked my life and my parents’ lives and my sister’s life and everyone surrounding me," Kate said.
Complicating matters, for fans and the Estefans alike, was Kate's relationships with "El Chapo" and Sean. The former was clearly infatuated with the actress, obsessed with her character in La reina del Sur, while the latter, she admitted, was someone she was briefly involved with.
Just don’t call it a romantic relationship. “No, I only had sex," she said of her involvement with Sean.
She admitted she eventually decided to speak out and explain the many intricacies revolving around that time in her life because her parents couldn’t take all that was being said about her.
The ordeal may be behind Kate, but she still feels repercussions to this day. She confessed she now sleeps with a gun, fearing still for her safety.
"We want you to realize that we're all the same and we're all going through same things, each in our own worlds,” Gloria noted at the tail-end of the episode. “But we're all going through it. And we hope that we've got people to go through it with us and we're thankful for those people and we're thankful for you."
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