ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre’s American Collection: Almost A Woman (PBS via ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection)
2002 | An ALT Films production, in association with Paramount for WGBH/Boston
Almost A Woman, based on a memoir by Esmerelda Santiago, is the fifth production for ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre’s American Collection, a series of adaptations of significant works of American literature. This story is a familiar one, central to American experience. A mother, Mami (Wanda De Jesus), seeking a better life for her children, moves them from their home to a new place—in this account, from Puerto Rico to New York. But like all such migrations this one is about more than geography, more than family, even more than the search for opportunities. As Negi, the teenaged Esmerelda, Ana Maria Lagasca offers a stunning performance of a young woman longing for her home while making a new life in a new place. Her adjustment to a world divided by class and ethnicity is enriched by many family members. Tata (grandmother), played by Miriam Coln, and her companion, Don Julio (Ismael East Carlo), provide a home in New York. Siblings Delsa (Evangelina Martinez), Norma (Stacy Gallardo), Hector (Gabriel A. Flores), Alicia (Yanniva Mendoza), Edna (Marisabel Garcia), and Raymond (Austin Marques) tease and support Negi. Papi (Angelo Pagan), the father who remains in Puerto Rico, never doubts her potential for great success. Her mother’s companions in New York, Francisco (Luis Garcia) and Nestor (Alexis Cruz) express their own strong affection for Negi and the entire family. The real Negi, Santiago, graduated from New York’s High School for the Performing Arts, received a BA from Harvard and a MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence. She is the author of numerous other works and of the screenplay for Almost A Woman. Her story continues. Almost A Woman was directed by Betty Kaplan and produced by Ronald Colby. For a richly evocative retelling of one of the most important American stories, a Peabody Award goes to Almost A Woman.