Carolina Gaitán (Pepa Madrigal) ‘WE DONT TALK ABOUT BRUNO’©Hola

Carolina Gaitán: The multi-hyphenate Colombian superstar shows the world the magic of ‘Encanto’

The Colombian actress reveals if ‘Encanto’ would have a second part, and if she thinks they will win an Oscar

If you are reading this article, you might have watched Encanto or singalong to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” multiple times, but if you haven’t, you should! Here’s why.

After being played on repeat in the United States, the hit —performed by Carolina Gaitán, Mauro Castillo, Adassa, Rhenzy Feliz, Diane Guerrero, and Stephanie Beatriz— climbed to position number one on the coveted Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The Encanto’s soundtrack is the most recent animated movie track to join the list since Frozen’s “Let It Go,” which peaked at No. 5. The newest global sensation also dethroned Adele’s “Easy On Me,” becoming the first Disney song to climb number one on the chart since “A Whole New World” from Aladdin in 1993.

Encanto póster©Walt Disney Animation Studios

In addition, this is the third time that a song performed by Colombians has reached the top of the charts in the United States, following “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean and “I Like It” by J Balvin featuring Cardi B.

The computer-animated musical fantasy comedy film celebrates Colombia’s culture and charm, and its characters tell a beautiful story about family, togetherness, traditions, and how our individuality makes us magical.

Following the incredible success of this beloved film and its catchy songs, HOLA! USA had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with multi-hyphenate Colombian superstar Carolina Gaitán and chat about the impact of the movie on her life, the Latinx culture, and if she believes Encanto would win an Oscar, Grammy, or any other upcoming award show.

Carolina Gaitán (Pepa Madrigal) ‘WE DONT TALK ABOUT BRUNO’©Hola
Photo: Giorgo Delvecchio

How do you feel about all the buzz surrounding “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and Encanto?

It’s amazing. It’s incredible. Not only for the cast or the people involved in the movie but also for all Colombians and Latinos. We have been represented in such a beautiful piece, in such beautiful sounds. And this is the way that we want to be defined. So it’s beautiful!

How are you taking in all this fantastic experience working with so many talented people like yourself?

This is teamwork. This is a Lin-Manuel Miranda song. And he’s such a great musician. I always say he is a genius. To be able to be part of his genius creations is huge.

Let’s talk about the symbology behind the movie and behind the song.

So when we say “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” we’re talking about those individuals or family members, people in our society that we don’t talk about them because we don’t understand them. There is a lot of symbology behind the song, and, yes, it’s beautiful to talk about this. And it’s lovely that everyone wants to talk about Bruno.

What else do you think is so special about the song?

That it’s about Salsa music and Cha-cha-chá, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creation goes beyond what other people tend to relate Latinos with. We’re not just reggaeton music. We are all these genres. It is beautiful to be part of this message.

Carolina Gaitán (Pepa Madrigal) ‘WE DONT TALK ABOUT BRUNO’©Hola
Photo: Giorgo Delvecchio

You’ve been working in the entertainment industry for years. However, this is your second movie and the first animated movie. What differentiates Encanto from your other roles in series and musical theater?

When you work in the entertainment business, sometimes you’re involved in productions that maybe you don’t like at all, or you don’t vibrate in the same way. But this one is huge for me because I can do what I love the most. I love to sing, I love to act, and I love to be part of an important message. I always dreamed about being a cartoon! It’s an actual dream come true. I have been working for 20 years as a singer and an actress in my country, and this is definitely the best moment of my career because I can finally be part of a project that involves everything that I love the most.

You went through a casting process before becoming Pepa Madrigal and lending your voice to such a beautiful project. So going back to the beginning, could you share about the moment you auditioned or received the call to be part of Encanto?

I was in Los Angeles, and my friend, Nathalia Reyes, told me about the audition. And she was like, ‘Caro, you sing, you act. Why don’t you go to that audition?’ And I was like, ‘Okay, let’s try out. What do I have to do?’ So I asked my manager and my team to see if they could request a space for me. That was on Monday, and on Thursday, they were like, ‘Okay, you got your addition scheduled. I went to the Studios in Burbank, and I sang “Don’t Rain On My Parade” by Barbra Streisand. The casting director said, ‘I will not open my eyes because I really want to listen.’ The funny part is that I prepared a show. Anyways, I started singing, and the casting director started opening her eyes and ended up clapping and super excited. Six months later —we already were in lockdown— I began my callbacks with Byron Howard and Jared Bush through zoom. And then the rest is history!

When did you start working with Lin-Manuel Miranda?

I went to the studios to work with him, and then he sent me the song, and we started working on the English-language version. And then in the Spanish-language version. It’s been a beautiful journey. I will never forget that as soon as I arrived at the Disney Studios, I felt that my dream came true, not imagining what was going to happen after.

How was your reaction when you read the lyrics or heard the song for the first time?

I remember that I was trying to build a character. Because as an actress, I love to develop characters that are not similar to me. But on this occasion, I asked them how they wanted my voice to sound, and they said, “We really are in love with who you are. So try to be yourself as much as possible and just give us possibilities, and then we pick.” They were very strict with confidentiality, so I didn’t have a clue about the movie. So that was really difficult! So they were like, ‘we’re not going to tell you much about the movie, but we’re going to tell you what we are going to need.’

Carolina Gaitán (Pepa Madrigal) ‘WE DONT TALK ABOUT BRUNO’©Hola
Photo: Giorgo Delvecchio

And what happened when you started singing “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”?

Singing the song was beautiful because I thought it would be challenging to work with Lin-Manuel Miranda, and he was the most relaxed, fun, extroverted, ultra sweet, and warm person. He spoke Spanish and Spanglish to make me feel welcome and part of the family. After that, I went to New York, and he invited me to Broadway, we also had a Colombian Cafe, and we hung out like friends, and that feels amazing!

As a Colombian born and raised, portraying a Colombian character must be a joy. But one thing is the reaction of Colombians living in the United States and Colombians in the mainland. What do they say about the movie? Do they feel represented?

Do you know what I feel? I feel like I’m going to cry because we have been telling a complicated story about our country for many years. So to finally have a film that tells a different story of our country has been tremendous. It’s gastronomy, art, musicians, music, women, vulnerability, inclusion, diversity, multiracial —so many things that are involved here, and that represents us.

Do you think Encanto would have a second part?

I don’t think that that’s a crazy idea. I believe that we have to wait because we just got nominated for the Oscars. And then we have to wait for the Grammys. And then we have so many things happening this year. But I think is not a crazy idea, and I also think that would be awesome. To not only do Encanto 2 but also take it to Broadway.

Speaking of awards, if “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” gets nominated for a Grammy, or Encanto wins the Oscar, what would you say when receiving the award? Do you think you would cry?

Oh my god, I think that’s the dream for every single actor in the world. Of course, we were not working to have a premio (award) or recognition of that kind because we are passionate about this and want to tell stories, but we want this as well!

I think since we were kids, we have been preparing on what to say if we win an Oscar. If I someday experience that, I would love to talk about inclusion, representation, and how we finally have a different story about our country.

Carolina Gaitán (Pepa Madrigal) ‘WE DONT TALK ABOUT BRUNO’©Hola
Photo: Giorgo Delvecchio

While we wait for that historical moment, let’s talk about what’s next in your career? Are you going to continue in music and acting?

I have a movie coming up! I’m already building a new character. It is an American movie. So I’m thrilled to talk about it once it’s ready. And also, I have a lot of music releases soon. I have one that is going to be in one week from now. So be prepared because Carolina Gaitán, La Gaita, has so much to give you this year and in the rest of my career because I really love this. I am very passionate about the music and our Latino sounds and, of course, building characters and telling a story.

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