Arts & Entertainment

Peru alpinist: Incredible that Selena Gomez is bringing my life to big screen

By Fernando Gimeno

Lima, Nov 2 (EFE).- Peruvian-American alpinist and social entrepreneur Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, a victim of childhood sexual violence who found a path to healing in the mountains, is eagerly awaiting the release of her autobiography and also a biopic about her life starring Selena Gomez.

“It was unimaginable that Selena Gomez would be willing to do it,” she told Efe in her first public remarks about the film, which is inspired by the book “In the Shadow of the Mountain” that she wrote after the onset of the pandemic.

“I admire her a great deal for being such a young actress, with everything she’s gone through in her life. And she’s very open about her own personal situations,” Vazquez-Lavado, who in 2016 became the first Peruvian woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, added.

She said the film will be unusual because mountains in the cinema typically have been the setting for stories about survival and the conquest of nature, whereas “living in harmony with a mountain is something we hadn’t seen until now.”

While the screenplay is being finalized, Vasquez-Lavado is in Peru for Inkafest, a film festival centered around movies about mountains, adventure sports and the environment that is being held in the southern city of Arequipa from Nov. 1 to Nov. 13.

Her appearance there marks the first time that Vasquez-Lavado, who lives in Northern California, has been back in her homeland since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, a nearly two-year period that she used to write her autobiography.

“I had several projects going right before the pandemic, and I wondered how I was going to find time to write,” she recalled. “But being at home allowed me to dive into the book, take the time to reflect and seize the inspiration to tell things that at times are very painful.”

“The most difficult thing was remembering a lot of details and situations, but I have a lot of pride and I was practically able to tell everything without any shame or fear and do so very openly,” Vasquez-Lavado said.

The book will be initially released in the US on Feb. 1, 2022, and then two days later in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and other English-speaking countries.

Although it also will be published French, German, Korean, Japanese and Polish, there is still no version in Spanish.

“My biggest dream is for it to be in my country. I need to be patient. I know eventually it will end up being released” in Peru, she said.

“I hope this book serves as a little gate that helps inspire other people and helps them see they’re not alone,” she said. “Because after the trauma, I felt like I was very alone and no one was going to be able to understand me.”

In her case, that gate was opened through ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic tea made from Amazonian plants that contain the powerful, perception-altering chemical DMT and are often consumed in a ceremony guided by a shaman.

During an ayahuasca session, Vasquez-Lavado had a vision that told her to take the little girl within her to climb mountains as a means of alleviating the suffering she had endured.

She then followed that instruction to the letter and took on the world’s highest peaks.

“I’d recommend that everyone try to climb their mountain, little by little. At least see the very healing power of nature. It’s something incredible,” said the alpinist, whose San Francisco-based Courageous Girls non-profit is dedicated to healing and empowering survivors of violence and abuse through adventures in nature. EFE


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