Mimí Derba

Miquel, Angel

Herminia Pérez de León, who adopted the pseudonym of Mimí Derba when she made her debut as a singer in Mexican theatre at the age of seventeen, was one of a number of theatre actors who made the successful transition to silent cinema. Beautiful, with a light, sweet voice and a charismatic presence, Derba began her acting career as one of the leading ladies of the Spanish musical genre called zarzuela, then very popular in Mexico. She also acted in political comedies as well as traditional Mexican folkloric plays between 1911 and 1917. After 1917 and until her death in 1953, Mimí Derba starred in over seventy Mexican silent and sound films. In addition, she established her name as a writer, publishing short essays in various magazines and collecting an anthology of these writings in a volume titled Realidades, published in 1921. The end of the Mexican Revolution in 1917 and the ensuing economic and social stability allowed for the development of Mexican feature film production. In 1917, Derba, along with Enrique Rosas, established the Azteca Film Company and produced five films in that one year: Alma de sacrificio, En defensa propia, En la sombra, La soñadora, and La tigresa. In addition to producing these films, Derba wrote two of the scripts, codirected La tigresa, and acted in all except La tigresa. Although no prints of these films have survived, they are preserved to a certain extent through stills and press reviews.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
October 15, 2019


A research update was added on August 25, 2022 and updated on June 12, 2023.