Mimí Derba (María Herminia Pérez de León)
BiographyMexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Althought most of her career was before the cameras, Mimí Derba is better remembered as the first woman director in Mexico (and perhaps in Latin America). On 1917, when Mexican screens were filled by italian melodramas of "divas", Derba organized one of the very first Mexican production companies: Azteca Films. Practically without previous experience on screen, the actress produced, wrote and performed in two box-office hits: Alma de sacrificio (1917) and En defensa propia (1917). The success of those films persuated her to take the director's chair in Tigresa, La (1917). Read more... Pablo González, a minister in the cabinet of President Venustiano Carranza and Derba's lover in those years. González was accused of being the mastermind behind a famous gang of robbers called La Banda del Automóvil Gris (The Grey Car Gang) whose assaults were very famous in the Mexico City of 1915. Those events inspired the famous Mexican episodic film Automóvil Gris, El (1919). The mysterious of the source of the incoming money for producing Derba's films was never discovered, but it is certain that, after the scandal of involving González with the gang, activities ceased on Azteca Films and the career of the first woman Mexican director was over. Derba continued acting and made a strong career as a supporting actress in a great number of famous Mexican films. One of her most notorious roles was the bitter grandmother of Evita Muñoz 'Chachita' in Ustedes los ricos (1947).