In the first shot of Miss Bala, the just opened Mexican thriller from the director Gerardo Naranjo, the camera pans across aspiring beauty-pageant queen Laura Guerrero’s bedroom wall: a collage of photos of Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, and Audrey Hepburn, and the phrase fashion victim. But the young woman soon falls prey to a much more lethal scenario when a chance encounter in a nightclub renders her a drug puppet for a cartel boss.
The movie’s star, Stephanie Sigman, 25, channels Laura’s increasingly dangerous predicament with a mix of fearful acceptance and simmering survivalist instinct. Her own upbringing in Ciudad Obregón, in Mexico’s northern Sonora state, was much more carefree: A jock before her height and striking looks led her to modeling at 16, Sigman spent the next few years as an international mannequin until she was offered a scholarship to Mexico City’s CEFAC drama school and found a new career.
Though Miss Bala is her international breakout, she’s already acted in Río de Oro, a period film about the Apaches in Sonora; and in Morelos, a biopic of the Mexican revolutionary hero José María Morelos.
“I enjoyed modeling so much,” Sigman says. “But since I’ve become an actress, I’ve lived other experiences. It’s more internal. And it’s a passion.”