Laredo native follows dream and goes ‘In the Heights’

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 10:26 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - One Laredo native always dreamed of becoming a professional dancer, and that’s exactly what she did.

Now that dream has taken her from the dance floor and onto the silver screen.

”I have a guardian angel next to me or something....”

Veronica Castilla knew at an early age that she wanted to become a professional dancer.

She packed up her bags one month after graduating and moved to New York, now there for 18 years.

She was cast in In the Heights, a musical film that takes place in Washington Heights in New York, a film about family, Latin culture, and sueñitos.

”My mom came up to me when I was young and said ‘mijita, anything you want to do, whatever you want to pursue, I will find a way to make it happen,’ and those words stuck with me.”

Casting directors sought to increase representation from the Latino community in New York.

Castilla was one of them, a role that was once hard to come by for Latinas.

”It means a lot. It really does mean a lot because I was one of these kids growing up in Laredo, running around the streets having a good time, but also dreaming about ‘where can I go? Where can my dance career take me?’”

Castilla rehearsed about 10 hours each day, and once filming day came, it was all or nothing.

She wants other kids to know that if they have a dream, they too can make it a reality.

”It’s a dream come true. I think the children should know that if they have dreams they should go for it, and they should just keep believing in themselves. Even if people don’t believe in you, you believe in yourself and just go for it.”

Castilla’s career has taken her all around the world, and she is a seven time world champion in multiple dance competitions.

While she is temporarily in Laredo, Castilla will teach a free salsa and bachata class to the public at Social Bar and Grill this Wednesday from 9 to 10 p.m.

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