MEET THIS (TEMPORARY) LOCAL: Zilah Mendoza, the only female on stage in Miami New Drama’s “Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy,” has the double duty of playing two characters.
WHAT SHE IS DOING: The California resident plays Griselda “The Godmother” Blanco, noted Colombia drug cartel queen who ran the Miami cocaine scene in the ’70s and ’80s. She’s also Kathy, a composite character based mostly on Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and mixed with the stories of other attorneys tied to the drug-filled era.
“They were both incredibly powerful women and they were both mothers focused on creating a better world for their sons. Griselda came from an impoverished war-torn area and clawed her way out of that.” Mendoza said. “So looking at it from that feminine perspective, it’s about two very powerful females.”
Mendoza researched for her roles by watching news reports on the main focus of the show – Cocaine Cowboys hitman Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, reading books, and also studying the regional dialects of the characters.
FUN FACT: Mendoza has also starred in a number of TV shows and movies like “Modern Family,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and “Bed & Breakfast: Love is a Happy Accident.”
QUOTABLE: “We are uncomfortable and we do laugh about it because it’s so mixed in our culture, the way we glorify this type of personality and the way we also fear it,” Mendoza said. “Griselda is an incredibly complex character and it’s written in that Billy Corben, dark comedic style.”
Blanco was the only woman to reach her level and notoriety in the cocaine industry. Mendoza calls the show a dark comedy, and said the humor makes it easier to talk about the gruesome murders Blanco helped orchestrate.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: You can witness Miami’s drug wars on stage at the Colony Theatre. The world premiere of “Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy” wraps up April 7, and tickets start at $39.