Queen of the South stars talk final season premiere, repurposing props for a cause
BATON ROUGE - The popular television series Queen of the South has served as a quarantine favorite amid the ongoing pandemic, though the outbreak of COVID-19 caused quite the setback for film making worldwide.
The cast and crew of the crime drama were forced to stop filming on one Friday the 13th while filming in New Orleans back in 2020.
The virus put production on pause, though one actor tells WBRZ the experience was unforgettable.
JT Campos plays Boaz Jiminez, who is a villain and main character in the series. Since season one, Boaz Jiminez plays a role in running several cartels, making enemies along the way and even landing himself in prison.
Campos sat down in the WBRZ studio to discuss how things changed on set for cast and crew members once pandemic precautions were in full swing.
Due to extensive testing and social distancing, Campos says the show took a hit, unable to shoot with extras they would have had if those precautions were not in place.
"Not everybody can take that week off to do COVID testing and hope they pass that COVID test. I mean, I think COVID implanted a little sense of fear in everyone," Campos said.
Campos explained the strict rules and regulations all across the board, including masks worn at all times during rehearsals. The only time masks could be removed was when cameras were rolling.
Everyone involved in the production was also subjected to frequent testing.
"I'm not afraid of what's out there. Not because I'm Boaz, but because I can make decisions for myself. I do want to comply with what you need, I don't want to offend anybody. I don't want to step on anyone's toes and I definitely don't want to have someone confused of what my belief system may be. I believe I don't want to give up too much of my mental real estate and that's what COVID did to a lot of people," Campos said. "I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else I just move a different way and I'm alright with breathing the air that's out there right now."
Born and raised in Texas, Campos says he has been rebellious his whole life, just like his character, but commends the "COVID cops" on set for doing their job and doing it well.
Campos says he also has an appreciation for a fellow southern state after spending so much time there filming.
"I love Louisiana. I love New Orleans. I love the people I've met from Louisiana. They're genuine, they're authentic, they're transparent, and they're real. I can get down with that. And the foods pretty damn good, too."
He went into the industry as a stunt man and came out as an actor. As for his co-star, Reuben Perez of St. Tammany Parish, this gig served a different purpose.
The overnight Netflix star got involved with acting quickly after a family member submitted his photo to a casting company that was on the hunt for a tough-guy character.
The opportunity came during the global pandemic and soon after his niece was involved in a tragic ATV accident.
Becca suffered a severe spinal cord injury, leading to neurosurgery, weeks in the trauma ICU unit under 24-hour watch, and an inpatient rehabilitation facility.
All necessary to recover but costing a pretty penny, the Queen of the South stars got creative to fundraise for these medical bills.
"I've been firing casings since season one and in season two, I started making crystal casings," Campos said. I wanted to gift my cast members and crew members a little memorabilia from the show. A little thank you, a little love, because a bullet is nothing but destruction, terror, chaos, pain, fear. All these negative things. I wanted to recharge that casing with a crystal."
By combining props from the show with healing crystals, Perez and Campos were able to curate "Bullets for Becca." Shell casings from scenes that would otherwise be thrown away, repurposed and available for purchase. A GoFundMe is also online and accepting donations.
Despite all odds, Perez says his niece is up and walking again. He attributes her recovery to her positive mindset and determination.
"When I grow up, I want to be like Becca," Campos said.
The actors say the show has done more than entertain an audience. Through challenging times, the cast and crew members were able to lean on one another for friendship and support.
After shooting five seasons and endless twists and turns, the final season will premiere Wednesday, April 7, on USA network. The other four seasons can be streamed on Netflix.
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