When a woman narrates

“That scene moved me, I had to pull myself together …”, Rosa Ileana Navarro Pupo confessed to me, despite her 35 years  of work on the radio. Announcer, actress, host of information programs on radio and TV, narrator of historical and adventure series … she has recently been distinguished with the Artist of Merit recognition  by the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT). 

At the age of five, she began dreaming of working on the radio  and she took her game seriously. Sometime later, she entered spaces of the mythical channel Tele Rebelde , that emerged in eastern Santiago de Cuba , where people used to touch the actors just to see if they were real. And when in 1987, she began her official life as a worker, the river did nothing but to run through its natural course. 

I like to listen to her. She is warm, she is multifaceted. There are many Ileanas on the radio from Santiago. The one on the reflective and familiar awakening of Café con Música; the host of the Concierto Informativo, a space for current affairs and citizen participation; the one in NocheTropical, with nothing but pure music. And of course, the Ileana  in  Páginas de la Historia, which is a historical dramatic work tracing the memory of the Cuban future and beyond. She is the voice that links everything, that runs through everything. 

“I loved the narration by Guzmán Cabrales and Navarro Cuello. I used to stop to see them. I would also listen to Pastor Felipe, to the Alarcóns… I never imagined I would have that same chance, but life is made up of dreams and I have achieved some of them. A great director like Alejandro Quiroga Illas opened the doors for me. It was a challenge, I started very young when I was still doing programs of another type; but I took it as an opportunity.” 

A radio narrator needs to tell about situations, describe environments, characters, moods, while providing the spatial and time changing conditions.  That  and more still. Ileana knows how to braid the thread of the plot; she knows how to do it in her own way. 

The radio allowed her to get immerse in the republican half century (In times of corruption, by Raúl Ibarra), in the turbulent existence of José María Heredia (Oda a un poeta, by  Adelaida Pérez Hung-Oscar Ruiz Miyares), the stoic life of a true Cuban (Mariana, la madre de la tribu heroica , by Adelaida Pérez Hung) and in the 90 year- memory of the radio station where she works, CMKC (“En el aire, el corazón“, by Leandro Báez Blanco). 

“Each and every situation demands its own intentions, different nuances, and all of that inevitably goes hand in hand, it runs inside. Now it can be a romantic scene, then a war scene, an argument may arise… and all the scenes have to be credible. That requires discipline, respect. It requires putting the heart into it.” 

“I am a passionate woman and I like my emotion to be felt when I narrate. I almost cry with my voice, I get goose-bumps.  Sometimes I have to control myself, but I always manage to do so. Perhaps therein lies the brand, the difference in an empire that has traditionally been for men, but the demand is the same. Narrating is like getting deeply into life, narration has no favorites. ”

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