Rosalinda Risso: San Antonio’s Newest Celebrity Reversed the Tables in China
Rosalinda Risso recently gave the Chinese people a taste of their own medicine.
While most products everyone in North American purchases read “Made in China” underneath the item, in China there is one product that states “Hecho En México” (Made in Mexico).
“That product is hundreds of DVDs produced by Proda Films,” Risso said during an interview at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.
“In fact, our company was the first Latino Company to introduce Mexican movies in Hong Kong, where they took the most interest in those that featured masked wrestlers.
“The Hong Kong thing was entirely my idea and we made record breaking sales to movie distributors there. What initially attracted a lot of people to our booth at the April 2004 Hong Kong International Film Festival & Market (Filmart) is that my husband’s brother, Rogelio Agrasánchez López, took his collection of vintage collectable movie posters for exhibit in our space and this attracted customers like a magnet.”
The petite beauty is also among the many Mexican singers and actors that now make San Antonio their home. José David Agrasánchez is her ex-husband, who after their divorce kept Proda Films, which has a stock of over 7,000 titles.
RISSO’S EARLIEST INFLUENCES AND ENTRY INTO SHOW BUSINESS
Her father, Salvador Ángel Risso, owned palenques throughout Mexico so in addition to seeing the top stars of the day onstage; Risso would also see them at their own home when they would come over for fiestas and pachangas.
“De alli me salio la locura de ser artista. It was from growing up among Vicente Fernández, Daniela Rómo, Lupita D’Alessio, Lucha Villa and many more of Mexico’s greatest singers, that my father gave their first breaks to that this craziness to be a singer was born,” Risso said with a laugh.
The perfectionist then underwent vocal training under Francisco de Migueles in Mexico City and Christopher Robbins in the United States.
“I was 16 when I performed at a palenque for the first time. María de Lourdes and Ángelica María were with me and my mind went blank. I was terrified, but Ángelica signaled me to start again. The mariachi started the tune again and this time I was able to sing. I don’t remember, but I must have sung a Juan Gabriel song because that’s what I always covered.”
Next she found a producer named Rafaél, who told her he would record her. After Sergio Esquivel heard her, the 45 rpm single, which featured “El Principe” on Side 1 and “Cómo Se Cambia” on Side 2, was released on CBS in 1984. The record got heavy rotation plus airplay and became a hit. Shortly thereafter, fans formed the first Rosalinda Rossi Fan Club in Fresnillo, Zacatecas.
As for her stage name, the voluptuous vocalist took her paternal grandmother’s last name since Ángel is her father’s last name, not her middle name as many may think.
One thing led to another and Risso wound up in the movie industry as an actress. Yet it was really her sister, Patricia, who wanted to be an actress and never succeeded.
“I had a promising career ahead of me,” the 5-foot-1-inch tall curvaceous performer continued. “Unfortunately, I fell in love and married a movie producer, who turned out to be a very jealous husband; and although he wanted to help my acting career, he only gave me Cinderella parts. He was ultra controlling and read every script. So if there was a kissing scene, he made sure it was eliminated.
In 1979, Risso made her silver screen debut in “La Pistolera.” “El Secuestro de Camarena I and II” (1985) opposite Andrés García and Sasha Montenegro, plus “Muerte de el Federal de Caminones” (1987) came next followed by “Open Fire” (1988) opposite David Carradine, “La Muerte de Camarena” (1988) with Rosenda Bernal and “El Mil Hijos (1989). The latter three were with Julio César Agrasánchez.
Her popularity and fame grew; and next she appeared in “El Día de las Sirvientas” and “La Mafia Tiembla II,” both with David Reynoso and his two sons, Sergio and Jorge Reynoso.
In between movies, she entered the 1990s decade with “Camarena Vive” and in 1992, she sang “Mi Tierra Es” at El Festival de la Canción Ranchera placing fifth in a competition that included Rosenda Bernal, Julia Palma, Martín Urrieta and other established internationally known singers.
Then she worked at being a better thespian by studying actuing at the Van Mar Academy in Hollywood. Then adding another talent to her resume, Risso studied dancing under Ema Pulido at the Dupreé Academy, also in Tinseltown.
During the mid 1990s, starting with “La Quebradita,” she started producing her own films. She followed that up with “Cruce en Tijuana” with Fernando Sáenz, Rebecca Sílva, Patricia Rivera and Armando Silvestre. The latter two movies also featured Joe Estevez, who is Martin Sheen’s brother.
Her short acting career during which she had some good roles was short lived due to her marriage because as she says, “Ya casadita a su casita (Once married, you belong in your home). Se perdio el encanto (The enchantment is lost).
This union did however produce a son. “His name is Aldo Agrasánchez and he too likes acting and dancing,” Risso said with a mother’s pride.
MAKING SAN ANTONIO HER HOME
In regard to the reason, she left Mexico and moved to the Alamo City, the buxom powerhouse of energy said, “We’ve been coming here and Harlingen since the 1980s because my husband’s family is from here (Texas). Asi nacio mi amor por San Antonio. (That’s how my love for San Antonio was born.)
“In Mexico I lived in panic terrified of my son being kidnapped when he was outside playing or riding his bicycle. We had all kinds of close-circuit TV cameras, but I could not look at the monitors for fear of seeing someone pop up on the screen. And when we would come here and I saw my son riding his bike, playing safely and saw how happy he was, I suggested we buy a vacation home here.”
The deciding factor came after the Agrasanchez’s were assaulted four times in Mexico. It was then Risso and her son moved to their vacation home and enrolled him in school here.
To hone her vocal skills even further, here she studied voice under Cristina Ortega. She then joined the Hispanic Heritage Society and started singing in gala events honoring Armando Manzanero, Ángelica Mariá and Juan Gabriel. In addition new opportunities arose and one of those was being contracted to perform in Merida, Yucatan. As a consequence, many people started asking for her compact disc and she had none. So she produced and recorded a CD, which is now available at her Website.
Now Risso is a board member of the society, whose name she considers to be very potent and for which she has many plans and projects she intends to introduce.
Last month, Cynthia Muñoz of Muñoz Public Relations invited the epicurean songbird to participate as judge for the student mariachi musician’s competition as new doors seem to be opening for Risso. And as if she didn’t have enough on her plate, Risso says, “I also intent to get involved with Al Frakes’ SAF Studios and bring some Mexican film projects to San Antonio.
“In addition, I want to educate Hispanic youth on their roots so they can feel proud to be Latino.”
Taking action in regard to this, the Hispanic Heritage Society is presenting “Bolero,” which features tunes by singers and songwriters such as José José, Vikki Carr, Juan Gabriel, Luis Miguel, Armando Manzanero, Rocío Dúrcal, Marco Antonio Solís, Camilio Sesto, Mocedades, María Grever and Los Panchos.
These great hit tunes will be interpreted by Nataly Peña, Emanuel Zapata and Héctor Hernández, who are collectively known as Voces de San Antonio. In addition, this gala evening includes a special appearance by Risso.
In addition, there’s the young voices of María Isabel León and César de la Cruz; ballroom dancers Jack and Verónica. Jorge Infante did all the musical arrangement and Cristina Ortega is the artistic director.
This great musical review will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 27 at the San Antonio Playhouse Russell Hill Rogers Theater. For more information call (210) 822-3247 or go to www.hispanicheritagesociety.org. For more photos of San Antonio’s newest celebrity import, check out www.rosalindarisso.com.