Human trafficking is not a situation that happens only in overseas countries in Asia, Africa or Europe. In fact, many people donâ€™t realize human and sex trafficking is happening here in our own backyard.
PRICELESS is a very dramatic, truthful and emotional fictional film that brings to light on this very sensitive subject. Base on true stories, the film follows a driver who later discovers his cargo is actually two sisters from Mexico. He delivers the girls to a prostitute pimp in the United States. With a change of heart, his renewed quest is to save the sisters as he fell in love with one of them.
The film stars Joel Smallbone, Bianca Santos, Jim Parrack and David Koechner. It is directed by Ben Smallbone.
LRM caught up with actress Bianca Santos in Fresno, Calif., for the opening night red carpet. She graciously took the time to talk about her role, the film, faith-based trends and human trafficking.
PRICELESS is playing nationwide in theaters today.
Read the transcript below.
LRM: Wow. Youâ€™re doing a movie premiereâ€”out of anywhereâ€”weâ€™re here in Fresno. Why is it so important to be here?
Bianca Santos: Why is it so important to be in Fresno? Because, why not Fresno? Fresno is, time and time again, the number one support system for Christian films. You guys just love on us. This is us loving back on you.
LRM: How were you brought on to this project? This is something very unique and very, very different from the stuff youâ€™ve done before.
Bianca Santos: Sure! Absolutely. For me, I came across the script and immediately fell in love with the role of Antonia on who she was and her strength. This was so appealing to me. Doing a dramatic role like this was such an honor. There are actresses that wait ten years over even decades in order to get roles like this. I felt Iâ€™m very fortunate I found a role like Antonia. Itâ€™s being a voice for the voiceless.
LRM: How did you prepare for the role of Antonia? She was very dramatic and very emotional.
Bianca Santos: I think I simply fell in love with the things she loves. What is most important for her is family and keeping family together. She wants to protect her sister. A lot of people ask me, â€œWhatâ€™s your process?â€ I think I donâ€™t prepare for anything. I just believe in her strength and on who she is. I believe in those circumstances. Itâ€™s kind of on what you get is always a surprise for me. It works.
LRM: Talk about working with the lead actors Joel Smallbone. How did you work out with the chemistry and other materials on screen?
Bianca Santos: Working with Joel is such a pleasure. He is such a performer. He is the lead singer for King & Country. Itâ€™s the way he entertains and bring on life. Itâ€™s very easy to work with someone who is like that. Itâ€™s such a joy on set every day to be opposite to someone who is such a delight.
LRM: The topic for the movie is all about human trafficking. Did you have to do any research yourself?
Bianca Santos: What I loved is that our director Ben Smallbone has such a wealth of knowledge on this topic. He has a documentary on Papua New Guinea concerning on human trafficking. Heâ€™s done so much researchâ€”from the moment Iâ€™ve linked up with himâ€”immediately he debriefed me on everything that is going on.
He was downloading all this information. I was like, â€œWhoa! No way! Crazy!!â€ Through that, he really gave me a huge chunk of the knowledge on today about human trafficking. Itâ€™s all through his own research.
LRM: This is a faith-based film, which is now a growing trend in Hollywood as of recently. Is this a big attraction to you?
Bianca Santos: Absolutely. Iâ€™ve said it and Iâ€™ll say it again. Itâ€™s all Antoniaâ€™s faith, her strength and her commitment to her faith in the midst of all this darkness. To me, it was so beautiful and so extraordinary. It was so easy for me to fall in love with a character like that. Iâ€™m so happy for the opportunity to tell her story. Itâ€™s a huge part of the elements of this movie.
Is it faith-based? Absolutely. A lot of people from all walks of life can believe in this movie. They will say, â€œWow. This is a human issue. We need to have the heart and do something about this.â€
LRM: What do you suppose is the most difficult you had to do on this project? It seems you had to do so many difficult things with this character.
Bianca Santos: Well, there is this one scene that happened in the movie. Itâ€™s the most pivotal scene. Itâ€™s the scene that sets the stake in the movie and sets everything into motion. Itâ€™s a movie about human trafficking. Itâ€™s a movie about sex trafficking.
Without these important scenes, then the movie wouldnâ€™t be as meaningful. To put myself or other actors in situations like that, it was so really necessary to propel the movie forward and accurately portray on what this world is all about.
LRM: Golly, I thought doing the Mexican accent was probably the most difficult thing. It probably came natural for you, right?
Bianca Santos: Oh! Actually, yeah! We had an on set dialect coach. Shout out to Steve Corona! Everyone in this movie had accents if you didnâ€™t know. Joel has an Australian accent in real life. Heâ€™s doing an American accent throughout the whole film. Iâ€™m doing a Mexican accent. Jim Parrack, who plays Garo, is from Texas. He sounds like heâ€™s from a bunch of places. It was difficult, but it was good to have an on set coach for those situations.
LRM: Do you have any upcoming projects that you can talk about? Are you still on the TV show THE FOSTERS?
Bianca Santos: Iâ€™m not on the THE FOSTERS anymore. I do have things coming up. Iâ€™ve got a couple of projects that will be soon to be released. Aside from that, Iâ€™m just looking to do things that are meaningful. I think since Iâ€™ve done PRICELESS, it sort of put things into perspective. If Iâ€™m not doing work that is meaningful, what am I doing with my time?
It will be the drive to find the next script that has a message. Thatâ€™s my next goal.
LRM: I recalled you did movies like LITTLE DEAD ROTTING HOOD and OUIJA, so no more of those types of movies?
Bianca Santos: No more of those movies, yeah.
LRM: One last question, if any type of audiences want to check out PRICELESSâ€”what is the primary message youâ€™re hoping theyâ€™ll catch?
Bianca Santos: The whole message of PRICELESS is that every woman, man or child has a worth. No matter what your circumstance is, no matter on what walk of lifeâ€”you are valued. That is THE message of PRICELESS. There are other messages within that and youâ€™ll have to check out the movie to find out.
LRM: Thank you very much, Bianca.
Bianca Santos: Thank you.
PRICELESS is currently playing nationwide in theaters today.
Source: Exclusive to LR