Carmel Valley actress Elena Sahugan’s performance in the short film “Paz” won a Merit Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 2020 Best Short Film competition.
Based on a true story, the film shares the experience of writer and director Andrew Guitierrez’s mother who grew up in a physically abusive household and her courage to find freedom and peace. In addition to acting honors from Sahugan, the film also won awards of excellence for Latin / Hispanic film and short film and was nominated by the American Society of Cinematographers as one of the best films in the country. for cinematography.
After a delay due to the pandemic, “Paz” premiered on July 14 in a theater in Buena Park – Sahugan walked the red carpet with his son Colin, a junior rising to Torrey Pines High School.
A former Raiderette cheerleader with the then Los Angeles Raiders, Sahugan began acting in the 1990s and appeared in 28 films, mostly independent or TV films, as well as television shows. Her first movie role was as a villain in the 1990 action movie “Marked for Death” starring Steven Seagal.
After taking a break from acting and moving from Los Angeles to the Carmel Valley area to raise her son, she has just returned to the industry, “It brought me back and I love it” Said Sahugan.
The premiere of “Paz” lasted around two years – the diverse cast of mostly Latino actors filmed the short over a year ago. As the movie was set in 1940s San Francisco, Sahugan enjoyed the costumes, cars, and vintage details on the Long Beach set.
The role of Maria was a departure for Sahugan as she was due to play older for the first time in her career – she admitted it was scary at first the idea of minimal makeup and added wrinkles, but she found in the powerful story that she was able to show her range as an actress.
The dramatic short dealt with the difficult subject of abuse and Sahugan said many of the cast found themselves linked to the story.
“It was very real and touching… it pushed me to the limit,” she said.
After “Paz,” Sahugan appeared in a sci-fi thriller titled “It Crawls Beneath” and the independent film “American Desert,” which also won awards on the film festival circuit. Stepping behind the camera, she also recently produced two episodes for a comedy-drama based on her life as Raiderette. Entitled “Always a Cheerleader”, it was shot entirely in Del Mar and takes place in the 1980s, sort of a mix between “Baywatch” and “Dynasty”.
With a cast that she loves and a very funny storyline, she said she was excited for what might come next.