Hobbies: Photography, venturing to local music shows, movies, and my most time consuming hobby is spending time with my huge family.
Olivia Schmidt: What is your favorite jam right now or artist?
Monica Castellon: A mixture of Beach House and Alvvays. The woman in Alvvays has amazing vocals. I have also been listening to a lot of Spanish music because I’m Latino. Vincente Fernandez is on that list.
OS: What does Vincente Fernandez sound like?
MC: His voice is amazing. It’s typically about drinking tequila and heartbreak. The other day I was listening to Vincente while I was knitting. I called up my mom and said, “I am becoming an old Hispanic lady!”
OS: While we’re on the subject of jam, what’s your favorite kind of bread?
MC: I think baguettes are my favorite. My favorite restaurant is in Kansas City, called La Bodega. Before they serve you your meal, they bring out a large thing of baguette bread with pepper and vinegar. Oh my gosh, it’s delicious.
OS: Dang! And then you can’t eat your meal because it’s so tempting to eat all of it?
MC: Exactly. So much bread!
OS: So you’re family is your most time consuming hobby, tell me about that.
MC: My friends always make fun of me because I go home so often but I have so many cousins and little babies in the family that I have to see frequently!
OS: So where is home for you?
MC: Well I grew up in Shawnee but my mom now lives in Overland Park. I have three cousins that also live in that area and they are the ones with the kids. So we bounce around between houses. My mom ends up taking on the Grandmother role well. She will cook for everyone and gather us all together.
OS: What is your favorite meal that your Mom makes?
MC: Oh gosh, that’s tough. I would have to say her Pastelas which are similar to empanadas. The trouble with Latin American food is that it is all made different in different countries. For example, Mexican empanadas are dessert-like but my family is from Guatemala where they are filled with chicken and potatoes. It’s kind of like a taco pita pocket type of thing. I love them but I also have a lot of wonderful memories making those with my mom and sister. And every Christmas Eve my family gets together to make Tamales.
OS: How many of those do you guys whip up?
MC: Probably about 50 or 60. A big pot full. We’ll end up having leftovers that we sometimes freeze. Another funny story, this past year we were making the Tamales and it was the first time since I had been of drinking age. My sister brought over a few bottles of wine to share with our cousins. My mom got so upset with us because we ended up getting too drunk to make them the right way. She ended up telling us we couldn’t drink when we make them anymore!
OS: Can I hang out with your family?
MC: Haha, that’s actually what my friends always say. They will see snap chats of us together and say, “Oh my gosh, I love your family. I don’t even know them and I love them”.
OS: I can see why. So are you the youngest in the fam?
MC: My cousins were raised in our house so it’s just my sister and I that are direct family. My cousins are all ages and they are like my siblings because we grew up together. I take them to school and we do everything together.
OS: What’s your favorite film?
MC: I’ve been getting into Wes Anderson lately, Life Aquatic is definitely one of my favorites. Also, Whiplash is so good.
OS: What’s been your favorite film class that you’ve taken here at KU for your minor?
MC: Probably the Blacksploitation class I took last semester. It was with Kevin Willmott who is my favorite film professor.
OS: How long have you been doing photography?
MC: Since I was a Freshman in high school. I did a Journalism program all through high school and was also a photo editor for two years.
OS: Are you interning anywhere right now?
MC: I work as an intern at Catholic Charities as their Visual person. One of my first projects was making a video for them. At the time I had no idea how to edit video so I sat down for a week and taught myself premiere.
OS: Wow, that’s ambitious of you.
MC: They also have an awesome immigration and refugee service that I was asked to do some photography for. They had a Malaysian family with a young infant coming into the airport and I went to document them arriving here in the US. I got to follow-up by going to their house to interview them after their first day in the United States.