Exclusive: ‘The Five Juanas’ Star Sofia Engberg On Fear, Manifestation & Reinventing Herself
I’d been staring at my own reflection rehearsing my introduction speech and memorizing my questions on Zoom for a good thirty minutes when Sofia Engberg’s face suddenly popped up in the meeting. I’d logged in a little earlier to make sure everything was properly set up for our interview and was taking advantage of the spare time I’d left to work on my eloquence. As per usual before any interview, I felt a tad bit nervous. But I was mostly thrilled to have been given yet another opportunity to do what I love: Sit in the interviewer chair and witness true magic float around the person sitting across me as she opens up to share her truth.
It wasn’t the first time that Sofia had shown up on my screen. As a matter of fact, I’d spent the past couple of days watching her on TV, playing the role of Juana Bautista Mai in ‘The Five Juanas’ (‘La Venganza de Las Juanas’ in Spanish), one of Netflix’s top 2021 Fall shows that had me hooked from the first episode.
‘The Five Juanas’ is based on the 1997 Mexican telenovela ‘Las Juanas’. It tells the story of “five women with the same birthmark setting out to unravel the truth about their pasts and discover a tragic web of lies spun by a powerful politician.” But it does so in a modern way, by slightly changing the original structure of the characters, by giving the same importance to all sisters, each one being the owner of her own story in the process of learning what binds them together.
Although the five women are quite relatable characters, Bautista is the one that piqued my curiosity the most for one particular reason: Juana Bautista Mai is a clairvoyant young woman of the Maya. And as a spiritual woman who certainly believes in that kind of magic, there were so many questions that I wanted to ask Sofia about her experience—both Bautista and spirituality. As we slowly close our short, super sweet introductions, the interview eventually begins.
WTMW: Are you and Bautista similar in any way? How much do you identify with her?
Sofia: “We are similar. My mother raised me according to the law of the Universe which consists in respecting others, living to heal the Earth, and letting the Earth heal us [in return]. So, I surely feel close to Bautista, just because of the culture that we share.” (Sofia Engberg is a 26-year-old Mexican actress, descendant of the Maya herself.)
I feel so blessed to talk about my character and this kind of intelligence that’s starting to be shown off more. I believe that we, as human beings, have so many ways to reconnect with ourselves, and Bautista, as an intuitive soul, offers us this opportunity to tune in. You know, sometimes we feel this sensitivity but we block it just because it’s not normal or uncommon. But we all have it in a way.”
WTMW: I’m curious to know what did Bautista teach you about your own intuition? Did she somehow awaken or strengthen your psychic abilities? Did she initiate any kind of self-reflection?
Sofia: “She taught me so much about trusting my gut. Trusting our gut is actually all that we have in life. […] I think she gave me this opportunity to accept where I belong, where I come from, what I feel, and to know that there’s always a reason for everything, even if we cannot understand it at the time. I think that it’s a major act of protest, sometimes, to accept who we truly are. In the whole picture. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I think that it’s a major act of protest, sometimes, to accept who we truly are. In the whole picture. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.Sofia Engberg
I think yes, she strengthened my psychic abilities. I always had that sensitivity, you know, I was raised to accept that part of myself. But after I finished the work with Bautista, I realized that I became more compassionate with myself, and the way I perceive life changed. I felt we had so much in common that it became a bit difficult to understand which life events belonged to her or to me. Every single day, I kept walking in her shoes. It took me two or three months to recover my own life. I actually had to cut my hair to make the switch work.”
WTMW: In astrology, you and I both have strong placements in mutable signs, which means that one of our superpowers is ‘shapeshifting’. From the information that you gave me, your rising sign is in Pisces. Taking your career in acting into consideration, it makes a lot of sense. What does this ability that you have to morph into multiple characters mean to you? Do you draw any satisfaction from being someone else?
Sofia: “Of course. As actresses, we must understand and accept ourselves in every little corner. It’s personal work [morphing into different characters] that people don’t necessarily seem to grasp. We go through the deepest emotions, we study them, then learn how to accept them instead of rejecting them. It’s real hard work. I think it’d be interesting to see people work on themselves in the same way. You know, to learn that we’re really capable of switching the bad into good, the dark into light, death into life…to reinvent ourselves. Acting means everything to me. And of course, I find it really exquisite to know myself more and more every time I play a different character. I feel the joy of being alive again and again. I love it.”
WTMW: How do you make sure that you keep and honor your own identity, both as an actress and a woman of color?
Sofia: “I just…I trust my gut. I trust the person I’m being at the time. As I said before, trust is the big answer to everything and the only way I can honor the world that my ancestors have created for me to be in is by staying in it. It’s by making sure that I give this existence whatever this existence needs me to give it.”
WTMW: What happens when you don’t trust?
Sofia: “I live in fear. There are two types of fear. One that can remind you of who you are and teach you how to protect yourself, and another one that tells you lies. The latter is intangible and can make you static. It prevents you from making any decision because…well, you’re scared.
Fear is the opposite of love and the opposite of life. Living in fear means that we’re not able to give away the love that we have for this world. I believe that when we don’t know how to trust ourselves, nor trust the timing and the process of the Universe, I believe we can’t give life the things it needs from us. We’re pretty much dead.”
WTMW: Do you have any tips to share on how to shift from fear to trust?
Sofia: “I cleanse my Nadi with a Pranayama Technique. Then, when I feel I raised frequency high enough, when I feel calm, I say a prayer or a mantra. It doesn’t matter what or who you believe in. Personally, I say something like: Let me be whatever you need me to be. I trust you. Take the fear away from me. Then I let go of whatever is on my mind. I let go, accept and listen to whom or whatever manifests itself afterward. I’m very open to listening to the signs that show up in my life. I’d like to add here that if someone is struggling with it might be convenient to stay close to a support group, a therapist or a mentor… there are some paths that cannot be completed alone.
You know, I feared doing this interview because I know my limitations in English. However, I know that having this conversation was more important than to protect my limited ego and it had a bigger purpose for me and for us. So, I just made the decision to be who I am at this moment and to not blame myself for that. To simply offer what I can give. That’s how I get rid of fear. Sometimes I use sage or incense as well.Sofia Engberg
WTMW: In ‘The Five Juanas’, there’s a scene during which Juana Caridad, Bautista’s sister, shows off irritation towards Bautista’s visions. Have you ever faced such a situation in real life regarding your own spirituality and intuition?
Sofia: “Yes, of course. Not only in my spirituality or intuition. When I was younger, I was often laughing, singing, or screaming out loud. It pissed off my older brothers. They were always asking me to be quiet or to just stop “being me.” It was kind of hard. So, growing up, there are some things that I’ve kept to myself such as my intuition.
Funny thing is, my intuition was the only thing that helped me reconnect with my family. I’ve had dreams at night that made me get in touch with my family and advise them to do this or not do that. Of course, they’d respond that I’m crazy. But then things happened and they’d call back asking, “How did you know?”
It can be a lonely life sometimes. Yet, I think that what makes me feel so confident about where I am is that I believe that we—the people that are more open to the concept of existence or this kind of intelligence—we’ve been put in particular places with a purpose. We’re all separated, but we find ourselves right in the place where we need to be. We’ve got to trust that we’re not alone. We’re just like the Avengers, you know. The Avengers, they’re all split all around the world. But when they’re needed, they all gather together again.”
WTMW: Have you ever seen the Law Of Attraction work in real life? Can you articulate what it feels like when you’re close to manifesting one of your desires?
Sofia: “Of course! You and I are talking right now and I was actually thinking that I’d love to have this kind of conversation with someone.
[When you’re close to manifesting,] everything feels chaotic. And it feels like you’ll never get it. There are so many things that seem to be blocking the way. But if the things you’re manifesting belong to your spirit, then you’ll succeed. However, if they belong to your ego, they won’t manifest because the obstacles that are going to show up will make you fall. They’ll make you show them who you are: Soul or Ego? And the more you live in denial, the bigger the obstacles will become until you can be honest about yourself with yourself.
I never told this story before but when I received the casting of Bautista, I played it then sent my tape right back. They never contacted me again. About six months later, I received the casting to play Isabel (Manny’s date). After I submitted the tape, they called me asking where I’d been: “We’ve been looking for Bautista for so long,” they said. I was wondering who Bautista was until I realized I’d played her before when they told me more about the character. They asked me to send them two tapes of me playing Bautista with different emotions, which I did. They instantly knew I was the one.
This story is also something that makes me realize that whatever we’re looking for, it’s also looking for us. But we need to heal and make room for that thing we’re asking for. While I was still waiting to hear back from my first casting for Bautista, I had a conversation with life. I asked Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel that I’ve got to get that protagonist? I was like Please, life, you have options. You can take this desire away. Take it away or give me something because I don’t understand the reasons. And then, moments later, I got a call and that’s when everything happened.
The thing is, I don’t think I ever thought I could make it. I knew that I wanted it, but I never thought I could make it. I believe that we can manifest any of our wishes. But what’s important to the Universe is who we are. Like, are you committed to who you are [and who you want to become]?”
WTMW: If you were to meet Bautista at this present time of your life, what vision would you wish she had about your future self? In the best-case scenario, what happens to Sofia Engberg in a span of 5 to 10 years from this very moment?
Sofia: “I don’t know. In five years, I believe I’ll be speaking better English (laughter). But in 10 years…I had this dream about going back home. Home to me feels like the biggest expression of love. It’s that place [within myself] where no one can hurt me because there is no wrong. And I can visit home any time. I don’t need to go anywhere, I can just feel it right here. So, I think I’ll be living at home at all times, you know. I think I’ll be living my biggest awakened mental state.”
To keep up with Sofia Engberg, follow her on Instagram @sofiaengbergmx and watch season one of The Five Juanas on Netflix.
Featured image courtesy of Sofia Engberg; illustration by Indigo Wind
The part where she talks about becoming so enmeshed into Bautista that it took 2-3 months to become herself again reminded me of Will’s experience that he talked about in his book.
I had to reflect on the part where she talks about whether the thing you’re hoping to manifest belongs to your spirit or your ego. Whew! That’s deep, though.
This is such a wonderful interview. I still need to watch the series.