Jennice Fuentes

We didn‘t work all that much on the House side the first months we filmed in Washington. Most of the action with immigration seemed to center on the Sub-committee in the Senate, and simply introducing ourselves and getting permissions from the minimum number of Senate offices we needed to start shooting was keeping us on the run.

But in late spring of 2002, Democrats in the House decided to pick up where things had left off on 9/11, and find language for an immigration reform they could support. Minority Leader Dick Gephardt‘s office was, not too surprisingly, in the lead on the effort. But there was another office that took a strong interest as well -- the office of Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Chicago. Gutierrez had been deep into the immigration issue for years already, and was not about to be held up further by colleagues with too many political interests wrapped around immigration reform.

We went over to his office on a Friday to see what we could find out. The Congressman was in Chicago, but someone else was there -- his chief immigration aide, a woman we‘d been hearing a lot about, almost famous among other staffers for being such a tough player. She would see us instead. And out walked Jennice, who was most certainly not at all what we expected.

Jennice had been working for Rep. Gutierrez for most of her career. She‘s almost unbelievably efficient, in three languages, which comes in handy in an office that can tend toward the warm but chaotic. And she‘s gorgeous, so striking that we‘d seen no one else like her during our six months in Washington. But most of all, she has a way of being serious at the same time that she‘s remarkably detached, and funny. That‘s probably helped with her secret, second career -- soon after we met her, she landed the role of the "Lady in Red" on the critically-acclaimed HBO series "K Street".

But that day, she focused on us, and seemed not in the least alarmed by the prospect of a documentary where we‘d essentially move into their office and try to disappear. We‘d surely never gotten that reaction in any other office so far. When we said goodbye, heading back to the Senate side of the Hill, we looked at each other and started to laugh. Something had changed. We knew we had a movie...

Jennice Fuentes appears in Stories 6 Marking Up the Dream, 8 The Road to Miami, and 10 Brothers and Rivals
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