Arts & Entertainment

“Betty” returns to HBO starring Rachelle Vinberg, Ajani Russell

By David Villafranca

Los Angeles, Jun 9 (EFE News).- Latina actresses Rachelle Vinberg and Ajani Russell will once again star in the second season of “Betty” the refreshing HBO series about a group of “skater” girls who range through the streets of New York on their skateboards as they grapple with the transition to adulthood.

“I put so much of my heart and energy toward the show. And I’m so grateful that we’ve been successful enough to get two seasons of it,” Russell, a Puerto Rican native who plays the role of Indigo, told EFE.

“Betty” will air on Friday on HBO, the second season continuing with the themes of the first – femininity, sexuality, rebellion, family pressures and freedom from adolescence.

Russell and Vinberg, the latter of whom plays Camille, will once again be accompanied by Nina Moran, Dede Lovelace and Moonbear, who make up the quintet of young girls whose stories the series follows.

Directed by Crystal Moselle, “Betty” takes its inspiration from “Skate Kitchen,” a 2018 film by Moselle.

The origin of the longstanding collaboration between Moselle and the stars of “Betty” and “Skate Kitchen” stems from a “surreal” and chance situation that occurred on public transport, as Russell recounted amid laughter.

“People (ask me): ‘So, how did you start? Did you audition?’ I (said): ‘We met this lady on the train and she came to hang out with at the skate park…” she said.

Thus, one of the keys to the naturalness and spontaneity of “Betty” is that the actresses play the parts of fictitious characters that, in reality, are inspired by their own lives.

One of the ideas that is mentioned time and again when talking with a “skater” is the freedom she feels when she gets onto her skateboard.

Russel said that for her, the feeling is like floating.

She also said that the skaters’ passion is linked with the idea that skateboarding frees them from day to day pressures, allows them to clear their minds and also can be a kind of meditation.

This idea of personal freedom outside the routine rules of society and family were perfectly incorporated into the first season of “Betty.”

However, those chapters of the story presented a strange paradox: they showed a very lively, passionate and dynamic facet of New York but they were filmed in May 2020 just as the coronavirus pandemic had cleared the city’s streets.

The situation now is almost the opposite, with the second season of the series being filmed during the second half of 2020 with many Covid-19 restrictions in place but they will be viewed now with the pandemic already under pretty good control in much of the US.

Along those lines, Vinberg, a US citizen with a Colombian mother, said that even during the toughest periods in the pandemic the skater community knew how to stay united and accommodated themselves to the situation.

“I think that’s what skateboarders have always been good at: working with what they have and (having) fun with the resources that are around them,” she said.

In the mainly male world of skateboarding, both Vinberg and Russell said that the macho attitude is something that’s not seen explicitly but rather in “the little things.”

“Well, it’s definitely … difficult in the sense that you feel weird, you feel awkward. … People look at you, you get a lot of questions that aren’t necessarily trying to be sexist but are,” Vinberg said.

She was referring to how girls in the skater community feel when facing questions, attitudes and gestures that are “condescending” or that can be “annoying.”

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