VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE: Consummate Playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes Talks About Representing Cuban Culture In Netflix And Sony Pictures Animation’s “Vivo,” Working With Lin-Manuel Miranda And More In Her Interview With Alexisjoyvipaccess!

Quiara Alegría Hudes at the special screening of "Vivo" in New York City
Photo Credits: Getty Images North America

What difference can one song make? Well, it can actually make a profound difference. One song can change a person’s mood from feeling down to instantly euphoric. One song can influence a new perspective on life. One song can show someone how much a person really cares. For music-aficionado and kinkajou, Vivo, one song meant the entire world.

Sony Pictures Animation and Netflix are taking viewers on a wonderful journey of rhythms and beats, picturesque animation and unparalleled love in the mesmerizing film, Vivo! The remarkable movie is truly groundbreaking in the world of animation. The creative team – from director Kirk DeMicco (who also helped write the film), playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, music wizard, Lin-Manuel Miranda (who wrote all of the melodious songs in the film and also voiced the character of Vivo), composer Alex Lacamoire, and the brilliant cast and crew all worked tirelessly to make something special with Vivo, and saying that they truly excelled above and beyond with this film is an understatement. It’s safe to say, Vivo is unlike anything viewers have seen in the realm of animation. With a deep and meaningful storyline that goes beyond being just a fun and entertaining watch, to the great efforts the team made to actually visit Cuba to authentically represent the country and its culture in the film, Vivo is a captivating, animated musical that will forever hold a special place in everyone’s heart.

The movie introduces viewers to a kinkajou (aka a rainforest “honey bear”) named Vivo and his loving owner, Andrés. We’re brought into the world of this dream team as they draw in crowds for their daily, exuberant performances at the square in Havana, Cuba. They “go from the apartment to the plaza, that’s [their] commute, two blocks” to bring music magic to those passing by. Without ever missing a beat, Vivo and Andrés were a perfect match. Unstoppable and inseparable, their routine was whimsical and delightful, until one day, something changed. Andrés received a letter from his former music partner, the glamorous and renowned, music diva, Marta Sandoval, reaching out with a special request – for them to be reunited to perform together one more time at her much-anticipated, farewell concert.

This was the moment Andrés had been dreaming of – the day he would finally see his beloved Marta again and most importantly, get to play her the song he wrote for her several years back professing his love for her – a song she had never heard until hopefully now. But, misfortune happens, leaving Vivo to give Andrés the second chance he had been yearning for and requiring him to venture out into the unknown to deliver Andrés’ song to Marta once and for all. It’s on this voyage where Vivo meets Gabi, an ebullient tween (and trailblazer) who helps him on this overwhelming journey.

Gabi and Vivo in Netflix and Sony Pictures Animation's "Vivo"
Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Animation / Netflix

The awe-inspiring movie has the perfect juxtaposition of honoring the traditional while also celebrating the new – from the terrific bond between Andrés and Vivo and its parallel to the newfound friendship between Vivo and Gabi, from Andrés’ handwritten song for Marta to Gabi using all modes of different technologies to help Vivo get to Miami. It goes without saying, Vivo is one of those movies that you’re going to want to watch millions of times and each time, you’ll find something new and special to relish over.

Vivo truly is a marvelous movie in any way that you look at it. Looking through a music lens, it’s a superb film with some of the best songs ever brought to an animation project. From an educational perspective, it shares vital information about preservation and encourages kids to take extra steps to help the environment, such as the Everglades, as demonstrated by the devoted girls from the Sand Dollars. And, on top of all that, it’s a love letter in so many ways – a love letter to Cuba, a love letter to family and friends, and a love letter to viewers to embrace their true self and always dance to the beat of their own drum!

Vivo, voiced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Andrés, voiced by Juan de Marcos, in Netflix and Sony Pictures Animation's "Vivo"
Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Animation / Netflix

There couldn’t have been a better team to helm this extraordinary project and with the stupendous screenwriting skills of the prolific Quiara Alegría Hudes, this movie was destined from the beginning to be nothing short of a true wonder. Hudes’ talent is unsurpassed. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter has shared her great gift in a countless amount of stellar projects including In the Heights, one of the many projects she has collaborated on with a fellow great, Lin-Manuel Miranda. She also wrote the award-winning play, Water by the Spoonful, the memoir, My Broken Language, and several essays in outlets including The AtlanticAmerican Theater Magazine, and many others.

Vivo is an extra special project for Hudes as one of the characters, the fun-loving and buoyant Gabi, was actually based off of her own sister, who is 13 years younger than her. With a mind of her own and being described by Hudes as a “joyous rebel,” Quiara Alegría Hudes’ sister helped inspire the creation of a truly unforgettable character (one that we need tons of merch of – we’re talking Gabi-inspired backpacks, headphones and beyond!) It’s evident that the Hudes family is filled with leaders. Needless to say, Quiara Alegría Hudes is a visionary, a creative genius and a pivotal force in the entertainment industry with her riveting and impactful words.

Gabi, voiced by Ynairaly Simo in Netflix and Sony Pictures Animation's "Vivo"
Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Animation / Netflix

Alexisjoyvipaccess had the honor of interviewing the sensational Quiara Alegría Hudes all about what it was like for her working on Vivo and having it be a true representation of Cuban culture, what is something she has learnt from her younger sister that helped her with her creation of the character Gabi, how she feels Vivo is different from other projects she has worked on with Lin-Manuel Miranda and so much more only in our VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE interview. Quiara Alegría Hudes even took on a fun Vivo-inspired speed round and revealed what song from Vivo changes everything for her, where she would like to see Gabi and Vivo adventure to next and more – hear what she had to say in our VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE interview below!

Check out my VIPAccessEXCLUSIVE interview with the phenomenal Quiara Alegría Hudes below and take a trip with Vivo and Gabi to the Mambo Cabana in Vivo releasing on Netflix on August 6th!

Leave a Reply