Elena Rivera: "After the rape, the victim is still blamed"

Since you left 'Tell me how it happened', Elena Rivera (Saragossa1992) has not stopped chaining television characters with a lot of weight. She was the protagonist of 'La Verdad', 'Inés del alma mía' and 'Drought' and now of 'Alba', the Spanish adaptation of the success in Turkish 'Fatmagul'which premiered Atresplayer Premium a year ago and is now open to Antenna 3. It is not a role like the others, since she plays a young woman who is victim of a violation by four guys.

How did you deal with such a complicated character?

I tried to tackle it from the maximum respect possible because it is not a role to use. As a woman, it touched me quite squarely and there were things that made my stomach turn quite a bit. Not only because of the rape itself when she had to be filmed, but also because of the whole process that this girl has to go through. She often finds herself guilty, that they don't believe her... she had to capture a reality that, unfortunately, is happening.

After the violation, his character does not stop being judged. They even ask him when taking his statement: Was he wearing underwear?

There is a bit of the message to seek the explanation of why it has happened. What is reflected in the series is that blame is still placed on the victim. And, above all, try to ensure that justice is done and that those who have done it go to jail. A character has been sought who draws strength from where there is none to try to continue with his life and that what has happened to him does not happen anymore, or at least has to be told. The good thing about this series is that it does not intend to launch slogans, and you can even see other victims who do not have the same strength as Alba and are more afraid of them and shut themselves up at home.

And not all women are good in 'Alba'...

All the characters have their edges and there will be people from Alba's closest circle who, instead of empathizing with her, judge her. And then there is the character of Adriana Ozores, a woman who is in a different social 'status' and who is the mother of one of the boys. So not all women are painted as heroinesbut there is everything.

The series also raises the twist that Alba's boyfriend (Eric Masip) could be involved in the rape.

It's a roller coaster of emotions. When she thinks the world has collapsed on top of her and her only support is her boyfriend, she finds out that he could be involved and that is when the nightmare begins. And besides, everything happens coming home. I live in Madrid but I'm from Zaragoza and, when I return to my city, it's like going back to safety, where nothing is going to happen to you. Instead, when she returns to town her ordeal begins.

When you returned home after filming, was it difficult for you to leave all the emotional charge of the character on the set?

It is very easy for me to get out of the characters when we stop filming. The only time I've been left with a queasy stomach was while filming the rape. Everything was agreed and choreographed, but we stayed eight or 10 hours to treat it very carefully, so as not to fall into morbidity or sensationalism.

Did you turn to 'Fatmagül' or other series that have recently dealt with rape drama, such as 'I could destroy you' or 'Believe me'?

The directors didn't refuse us to see 'Fatmagül', but they told us that, in the end, 'Alba' has its own story and we had to create it together in rehearsals and on the 'set'. It did help me to see 'Believe me' and 'I could destroy you' to have a tool to know what you can feel or how you can react in certain situations. I was taking different little things from each one.

"We were 8 or 10 hours to treat the scene very carefully, without falling into morbidity"

Do you think it would have been difficult for a series like 'Alba' to have been done before? Is the topic it deals with still taboo?

What caught my attention is that 'Fatmagül' existed a decade ago, and even more so coming from a country like Turkey. It's been 12 years and it's still a taboo subject, it's very covered up, you don't want to admit that it happens but, unfortunately, it happens a lot. Here it is shown that when you see something you don't feel comfortable with, it is because there is inequality in society. 'Alba' has launched to show it and it is to be admired. I'm not saying that the world will change from one day to the next with this series, but if little by little awareness and people stop to think that it is a reality that happens, we will have contributed something.

You have a very sweet aspect, but you are often cast as intense women or with great personal drama.

I love that. I am aware that I have a more angelic image and that contrast motivates me, because I am a bit like that, quite a guerrilla. Anything complicated I take as a challenge to learn and if I have the opportunity to play those women with guts, strength and courage I'm delighted. Also, I think that this counterpoint of a character who seems to be one thing but then becomes another often attracts attention.

Soon we will see her in another project, Netflix's 'The heirs of the earth'. How is her character?

I have enjoyed it a lot because there is a process of transformation in her, she starts being one thing and ends up being a woman who takes the reins. It has been interesting because I had to face it from a more humble point of view, not so much as an empowered woman, and since I am now more used to that and deep down I am a bit like that, I have had to stop and say: this is something else.

Since he left 'Cuéntame' he hasn't stopped working. Where did she find the time to finish her teaching degree in early childhood education?

I had been studying for six or seven years and the only thing missing was my final degree project. The pandemic and confinement came and I took the opportunity to finish it off.

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