Episode 032: Death and Deathability: A Period Piece with Actress and Activist Blanca Ordaz
Blanca Ordaz is a ten-year-old actress who is passionate about using her voice and platform make the world a better place. Through her leading role in the new PBS short film Death and Deathability: A Period Piece, Blanca hopes to shine a light on period poverty and shatter the stigma around menstruation.
In this episode, Blanca (and her mother, Cecilia) talk about her experience filming Death and Deathability, how the film turned her into a young advocate for menstrual equality, the importance of normalizing period talk for all people, and the impact she hopes to make as a cause-driven actress. Tune in below!
- Blanca’s experience starring in Death and Deathability: A Period Piece and bringing her character, Ceci, to life
- How the film opened Blanca’s eyes to the issue of period poverty
- Blanca’s favorite messages from viewers, fans and followers
- How Ceci’s struggle inspired Blanca’s passion for involving dads (and other men) in the conversation about menstrual health
- The motivation behind Blanca’s bourgeoning acting career and where she gets her impact-driven outlook on life
- Blanca and Cecilia’s thoughts on cultural representation in Hollywood, and why they’re excited to be part of a movement towards greater diversity in film
- What’s next for Blanca’s acting career
Blanca Ordaz is a ten-year-old actress who is passionate about using her voice and platform to help others. She stars in Death and Deathability: A Period Piece, a new PBS short film about a young girl experiencing menstruation for the first time.
Blanca wants to raise awareness about period poverty and education equity for girls. She hopes to use her platform to shatter the stigma, keep the conversation going and help people see that periods are a normal thing to talk about. She is pursuing an acting career to tell stories that matter, to make people feel less alone, and to change lives for the better.
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Jessica Williams 0:02
Welcome to the Days for Girls Podcast, a show about breaking barriers for women and girls around the world. I’m your host, Jessica Williams, Chief Communications Officer at Days for Girls International. At Days for Girls, we believe in a world where periods are never a problem. We are on a mission to shatter the stigma and limitations associated with menstruation by increasing access to sustainable period products and menstrual health education for all people with periods.
Today’s episode is with Blanca Ordaz. Blanca Ordaz is a ten year old actress, and she is passionate about using her voice and her influence to help others. She stars in a new PBS short called Death and Death-ability: A Period Piece. You can watch it right now for free at pbs.org. When I first met Blanca, she reached out because she wanted to get involved with Days for Girls. And we had a conversation. And I was so inspired by this young woman that I invited her on the podcast. I don’t normally invite young girls on the show, but I really felt like you had to hear what she had to say because she is so passionate, so inspirational, so enthusiastic about making a difference in the world. And I feel so inspired every time I talk to her. So her mother joins us in this episode. And her mother’s name is Cecilia. So she’s there as well. So you’re going to hear from Blanca and her mother Cecilia, and they made quite the dynamic duo. They totally made me laugh. They are so cute together. And I hope you enjoy hearing their conversation with me as much as I enjoyed having it because I walked away feeling so inspired and so uplifted, especially during these challenging times. To hear so much enthusiasm for the future from such a young girl – I don’t know, it just really left me feeling touched. And I hope that you feel something similar. Alright, now let’s go on to the show.
Hi, Blanca. It’s so nice to have you on the Days for Girls Podcast. How are you today?
Blanca Ordaz 2:13
Well, I’m doing fantastic. How are you doing?
Jessica Williams 2:15
I’m great. I am so excited to interview you! You and I met a while back because you just finished a film about a girl that gets her period. And we talked and I just loved our conversation. And I said I’m so excited to share your work with our listeners. This is just going to be a great episode. So thanks for being here.
Blanca Ordaz 2:40
Thank you for having me.
Jessica Williams 2:42
Absolutely. So let’s just dive in. I want to start out by talking about your film Death and Deathability: A Period Piece. And it’s on PBS. I watched it – everybody can go watch it for free! It’s on the internet if you want to watch it or on your local PBS station. But for those who haven’t watched it, can you tell us about the premise of the story?
Blanca Ordaz 3:05
Of course. Well it is called Death and Deathability, and I play Ceci, a girl who is experiencing her period for the first time. And she thinks she’s dying because it wasn’t, you know, explained to her. So she’s like, well I’m dying and she makes a bucket list of things that she wants to fulfill before she dies.
Jessica Williams 3:30
It’s so cute. Like I said, I watched it and the character that you play – it’s just so adorable. I just want to like smash her a little face She’s so cute. Thank you and you know, there at the end, you create this – your character creates this wreath of flowers and those are so beautiful. Shots of you are so amazing.
Blanca Ordaz 3:55
I know – I was even like, oh my god it’s so beautiful, for you know the scene where I, you know, I die or whatever…it was so cute. And there was a bunch of you know, flowers and you know some flowers got in my hair, but it was alright. It was so cute.
Jessica Williams 4:15
Well, you know with the title Death and Deathability, which I guess is that a PBS series that they’re running?
Blanca Ordaz 4:23
Um I’m not so sure. It’s called the Latino Series but mine was just like a little episode.
Cecilia Ordaz 4:35
Everybody keeps wanting more! We’ve had so many you know messages on Instagram saying like, this needs to be a show. There’s so many you know, young girls that want this to be shown at their school because it’s not talked
Blanca Ordaz 4:51
It’s not talked about, I even have you know, some comments that they were leaving me that were – I was happy that I could touch them and, you know, in a sort of way and kind of make them feel not alone. And that to me is, you know, fantastic. And I actually wrote down some comments that I had because I didn’t want to forget them.
Cecilia Ordaz 5:12
And we have some messages that people have under the whole PBS thing. And they were leaving comments about how they related to it. And we’re not even talking about young girls. We’re talking about women in their 50s who said that they felt the same way.
Jessica Williams 5:30
Blanca Ordaz 5:32
So there’s a few comments. But these are, you know, the ones that I think were really like, really special were – one was “OMG. I am 54 now, but thought I was dying too, when ambushed. I had a mom and two older sisters, too. This is much lovelier. This is a much lovelier story.”
Cecilia Ordaz 5:55
So it just goes to show that even if you have someone there like a mom, you know, or a mother figure, sister…
Blanca Ordaz 6:01
You can still feel all alone. Yeah. And then another person said, “I was so ashamed. I kept throwing away my underwear. Because I started at such a young age.” It’s sad that things are not discussed to kids. And that was like, that’s what I’m doing. That’s why I’m doing it. So you guys don’t feel alone. And another person said, “I thought I was dying too – can’t wait to see this.”
Jessica Williams 6:27
Wow, crazy how relatable it is, like comments after comments talking about things like that.
Cecilia Ordaz 6:33
Oh, and some people actually thought this was real.
Blanca Ordaz 6:35
Oh my gosh, yes, so for anyone who thinks it was rea – no, it’s not real. I wasn’t actually being documented. And a lot of people thought this because a lot of the things that were being shown under the Latino Experience were documentaries, so they assumed it was real. And I felt so bad. I was like, No, it’s not real. It is a true story about my director, Vicki Ponce’s sister, and that’s where she got the idea from. And I just, you know, I acted it out. But I guess I did a good job. So thank you. But it’s not real. It’s not real. I promise. It’s not – I wasn’t being documented. That’s just how good Vicki is.
Jessica Williams 7:19
Oh, my gosh, I love it. Well, I mean, you know, with our work at Days for Girls, this story is all too familiar to us, as well. And so, Blanca, I want to touch on what this did for you. Like, this opened up your eyes. Right? So tell us more about that.
Blanca Ordaz 7:40
Ok, well, if it wasn’t for my film, I wouldn’t even know [about] period poverty. Like a lot of people – not only just the Hispanic community doesn’t talk about it – everybody, you know, doesn’t really talk about it. And that’s not fair. And I didn’t even know about it if it wasn’t for my film. So how many people don’t know about it? And it’s just, it’s really sad that people feel, you know, alone or sad or just feel like they can’t talk about it to anybody, or because they feel no different, or they feel alone or ashamed, because they’re not. If this happens to every girl, it’s normal. And we need to start talking about it. We need to bring it up, you know, amongst ourselves – to just talk about it because it shouldn’t be embarrassing. This shouldn’t be a touchy subject. This should be an everyday thing that everybody talks about. It shouldn’t be, you know, taboo, it should be a normal conversation to talk about.
Cecilia Ordaz 8:43
Yeah, and I think you know, Blanca – sorry, mom here – Blanca grew up in such a, like, an urban environment, very open. You know, we’ve talked about everything, not just with me and her but also with her dad. And then once she started doing this film, she’s like, wait a minute, this is not normal, like, people don’t talk about it.
Blanca Ordaz 9:01
Because I was, you know, very blessed to have my mom talk about it, to talk about everything on my mind. And yeah, and my grandma talk about everything. And I was so lucky to have you know, a dad who even is like, open about it too. Because he’s like, Oh, I see you never need to talk to me. You know, you can talk to me. Like I’ll be here for you. And I’m really appreciative of that. But the fact that you know, not a lot of people have that – I’m so blessed. But this needs to be, you know, we need to get men into the conversation as well. Because my character, her mom, you know, she passed away when I was very young. And she basically she didn’t have a mother figure. She only had her dad, so when it happens to her, she thinks she’s dying because she doesn’t have you know, a figure like a mom – her dad didn’t talk to her about it, because even for a dad, it can be embarrassing as well. And very uncomfortable. But we need you to, because if we don’t, because if any kid doesn’t have a mom, they should feel comfortable to talk to you as well.
Jessica Williams 10:08
I love it. I agree. You’re here, sister. So one of the scenes in the story that really stood out to me is, you know, the character. What’s her name on this movie?
Blanca Ordaz 10:24
Her name is Ceci. Okay, so Ceci was like on the playing field with her friends, and she turns around and walks away and they show a period spot, you know, in her crotch, right? And you don’t see that ever portrayed on television. Like, I can’t think I’ve ever seen that. And she takes her jacket and like wraps it around her waist. And I think every woman can relate to that.
Oh, yeah. And I know, oh, just get a sweater and cover it. I think but I think any girl should be like, it’s normal. It happened to me, okay, whatever.
Cecilia Ordaz 10:54
I think Vicki, her director, is very ahead of her time. She’s always ahead of her time, but she likes to push, you know, boundaries. She is like, this is art. And she is so smart. And so creative. And she’s like, you know what, this is real. And we’re gonna show it as real as we possibly can.
Blanca Ordaz 11:19
Yeah. And it’s so – I knew there wasn’t a green screen or anything. I actually had, you know, the blood. I had to walk, because I had to walk through – because we filmed it in a park – so I had a walk near like these kids. And I felt like they were kind of like staring at me, because they’re like, Oh my god, what’s going on? Like, see, this should not be you know, like, uncomfortable for you guys either. Okay, it happens. So I was like, Oh, do I put the sweater you know around me right now? I’m like, Nope, I’m just gonna embrace it. And I walk down the street. I’m going to go to our next location, I would feel free about it.
Jessica Williams 11:57
Well, then you go home, your character goes home. And I love the part where she like slowly ramps up the toilet paper.
Blanca Ordaz 12:05
Right? Yes. And I feel like that was so relatable because somebody you know, girls do that. If they don’t know what it is. They’re like, Oh, just toilet paper – like they don’t have anything, just toilet paper. [Inaudible] Not having the right products. Yeah.
Jessica Williams 12:27
Absolutely, Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh, it’s so cute. And then she like, she decides she’s got a bucket list of things she has to do before she dies.
Blanca Ordaz 12:38
Before she dies. One of them was to kiss a boy!
Jessica Williams 12:45
Oh, I love that. I love the stage where you you turn around and you look at the camera and you break that? What do they call that, the breaking the fourth wall? Yeah, you break the fourth wall and you’re like, “come on, the hair.” [Laughs]
Cecilia Ordaz 13:02
It’s really cute. I think you know, that whole point was just to make the audience comfortable. Because it’s such an uncomfortable conversation. So many, you know that Vicki was so smart about it to handle it with humor.
Blanca Ordaz 13:17
Humor, so not fully uncomfortable. So she’s throwing, you know, humor, and she’s talking to the audience like, you guys are my friends. Like she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to. So she’s like, let me talk to the audience. You guys are my friends. And I’m going to take you on this journey of you know, my life, and I’m going to die now. Yeah, so why not?
Jessica Williams 13:40
Well, it is such a sweet story. And I really do recommend that everybody listening go and check that out on PBS. Now I’m going to pivot, Blanca, and I want to talk about you personally. You’re 10 years old, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, 10 years old. I don’t even remember that being that young. And I’m like, but you’re you’re acting and you’re doing all this incredible stuff. So how did you get into acting at such a young age?
Blanca Ordaz 14:07
Well, I started out you know, modeling but that wasn’t really you know, my passion. I do like it, but at five, I found that you know, acting – that’s my passion. You know, just bringing something to life and bringing a story that you know, someone out there can relate to. And that was my biggest motivation, not to become, you know, famous, lots of money. I want to use my platform for good. I want to become an actress so people can, relate to a story that I am portraying. And for, you know, to use my platform for good, help people who really need my help. That was my biggest motivation to become an actress.
Jessica Williams 14:49
I love it. Um, okay, so where does that come from? I mean, Mom, like where does she get this desire to make the world a better place?
Blanca Ordaz 14:58
Well, probably mom, it was from you. Because she is such – I admire my mom, she’s really, you know, she’s nice to people and she wants to change too. And I want change just as much as she does.
Cecilia Ordaz 15:14
I’ve always instilled, you know, just to be a good person. I feel like, and especially now, we’re all forgetting how to be good. Yeah, for some reason, I don’t know what’s going on…
Blanca Ordaz 15:26
I really want, like, I just want the world to be filled with happiness and acceptance, good energy, good vibes, you know, no bad people.
Cecilia Ordaz 15:36
And I took that and, you know, just having conversations about anything really can open up anyone’s mind. And I think, talking to her about everything, she goes, Well, you know what, I want to be an actor, because I want to be a representation for other girls. I want to show other girls that look, you can come from wherever, have any background, you know, be from here, be from there. You don’t have to grow up with tons of money, and you can be whatever you want to be, you just have to work really hard. You know, and focus. Put your mind to it, really want it. Yeah, and work really, really hard. And don’t give up and don’t take yourself too seriously. Yeah, because I feel like once you start doing that, it becomes not fun. And you lose that passion. Yeah, you have to be passionate, but also don’t take yourself too seriously.
Blanca Ordaz 16:27
Yeah, and another thing, you know, my mom was right, you know, representation matters! Because growing up, you know, I didn’t have a lot of people with brown hair, brown eyes. So people that look like me, people who I can relate to. I didn’t really have that. So that’s, you know, my biggest inspiration and motivation, because especially in this industry…
Cecilia Ordaz 16:33
When they want people to look a type of way. I’m so happy that things are changing, that they want different, something different. But when Blanca started, it was very, you know, a one type of way kind of, you know, they’re looking for this. And now it’s so open, they’re looking for diversity.
Blanca Ordaz 17:13
And I am so happy about that. Because, you know, at first I was like, yeah, I bought this and then I started seeing, you know, everybody on TV, they just, they didn’t look like me. And that’s when I kind of lost, you know, hope just a little bit. And then people were like, No, we want different, we want this, we want that. I’m like, Okay, I got it. Now I want to be part of that movement. And even you know, in this film that I did, Death and Deathability, we did kind of show a little bit of, you know, my culture, the Hispanic communities, the Spanish culture and such. A bright light, whether it’s from, you know, the artwork, some of my lines and things that she does, the food, we kind of embrace that too. And that’s what I was happy about. So not only was it you know, an uncomfortable story, you know, about someone getting their period and thinks that she’s dying, then that was important for me to portray as well. But also portray my culture in a bright light and not stereotypical.
Jessica Williams 18:15
I love that part, too. She goes to a Mexican food cart, right? And she she talks about all the tacos she’s gonna miss
Blanca Ordaz 18:26
[Chatter] And [inaudible] actually wanted my taco. And I was like, I’ll share with you a little after – let’s do the scene first and then I’ll share my taco with you. Like, it kept coming to me and I was like, I want to pay you so bad. But because we found that you know, during the pandemic, we’re like, okay, you can’t – and that was interesting too, doing this during the pandemic. It was a little weird, it wasn’t you know, the normal. But you know, I’m so grateful for the opportunity and the chance.
Where did you film given that you were in the pandemic?
Oakland, the Bay Area! That’s another thing – the Bay Area, represent. [Laughter]
Cecilia Ordaz 19:17
That was her first film too. We started in Oakland, so her first film was Building Blocks with Jazzy Miyagi and Beyjon Hill and Arthur Gallery. Then we went on to another film called The Child which is a little scary. It hasn’t really been released. And then One, Two Three, Eyes On Me, that’s on HBO Max right now. And so she went through this and now she has some new things coming out. I mean, we can’t say much about it. We can say it is a short, yes. But that’s all we can say for now.
Blanca Ordaz 20:06
We can’t say anything else. But other things that I’m really excited about.
Jessica Williams 20:12
Oh my goodness, I’m so excited. And remind me, where do you live?
Cecilia Ordaz 20:17
California, Bay Area area, we live in Concord.
Jessica Williams 20:22
Okay. All right. So well, good. You didn’t have to travel too far for the for the filming of the film. So that’s good. I did want to ask one kind of random question. When I was watching the Period Piece, there’s a scene where there’s a photo of Ceci and her mom is that actually the two of you.
Blanca Ordaz 20:46
I know, my mom, and also the one on the side where, you know, I look at the clock, and I’m like, Oh, it’s time for me to you know, it’s time for me to go because it’s seven o’clock or whatever. I look, and my dad is actually in that photo as well. So they actually use my parents as well.
Cecilia Ordaz 21:04
Yeah it’s crazy. But I always joke that the goat had a better cameo than me. She had way more speeches!
Blanca Ordaz 21:15
But also, she also made a cameo in the background of the [inaudible] job but that was because they needed you know, backups, and my mom was very camera ready.
Cecilia Ordaz 21:27
I was not camera ready! No. And they said they could only use me because they said that my clothes were like, aesethic for it. She’s like, well, we can use that. Yeah.
Jessica Williams 21:44
Yeah. You guys are adorable. Oh my gosh. You’re so sweet. I love this mother daughter duo. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Gilmore Girls. Well, Blanca, if people want to follow your work and connect with you, where can they go?
Blanca Ordaz 22:12
Well, they can go onto Instagram. It’s weird because it’s “Blancs” but it’s B-B-L-L-A-A-N-N-X-X. Because it’s just the name that she’s always had. Yeah, but it was I think it was taken. Yeah. So we did double because why not? If Blancs can be extra, so can we.
Jessica Williams 22:41
Totally. Absolutely. And we’ll put that the link to your Instagram in the show notes. And then we’ll put a link to the movie in the show notes as well. And thank you so much, both of you for coming on the show. It’s just been a pleasure to talk to you. And I cannot wait to see what you do. Blanca, you’re only 10, you’ve got a lot of life left ahead my kid.
Cecilia Ordaz 23:03
And she wants more! She does not want to stop working. And I’m just like, Okay, well, I’m here. You know, we’re just letting the good times roll. Come on good energy, good vibes.
Jessica Williams 23:23
Yeah, yeah. Well, when you’re hungry, you know, you’ll make it happen. I can tell. So it’s true. I can see that in you, that hunger. And so I think, you know, one day we’ll look back and be like, I interviewed her on the podcast, and she’ll be like, you’ll be like this famous, like glorious movie star. And you’ll be making a huge difference in the world with all of your influence, and I cannot wait to see what you do.
Cecilia Ordaz 23:53
We hope we can come back!
Blanca Ordaz 23:55
I was here when I was little, mini me was here. And now I’m here. Like, remember how I said I wanted change? It’s happening right now.
Cecilia Ordaz 24:07
She wants to really make a difference. At least, you know, one person – that’s going to like make me the happiest person on earth.
Jessica Williams 24:16
It is a good feeling to make a difference. And I know that you want to continue like, you know, supporting Days for Girls and bringing awareness to period poverty. And so we are, you know, so grateful for all the shout outs that you’ve done about Days for Girls and then all of the work that you, I know that you’re you’re wanting to do around building that awareness, so I can’t wait to support you in that.
Blanca Ordaz 24:44
Thank you. Yes, thank you for your support.
Cecilia Ordaz 24:48
Thank you so much, we want to keep supporting Days for Girls and we want to add to that movement and do anything that we can to help so just let us know if there’s anything we can do. And we’ll be there.
Jessica Williams 25:00
Awesome. Well thank you both for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time.
Blanca Ordaz 25:04
Thank you for having us and thank you for your time. We really appreciate it.
Jessica Williams 25:10
The Days for Girls Podcast is produced by Days for Girls International. For show notes and resources mentioned in this episode, visit daysforgirls.org/podcast. If you’d like to support the work we do on the show, leave a rating or a review wherever you listen, subscribe to the show, and share our episodes on social media or with your friends. To learn more about Days for Girls and to join our global movement, please visit daysforgirls.org. Thank you for listening. See you next time.