I recently hunkered down with Maricel “Cha Cha” Zambrano Anato at Atelier 3 (the Hollywood hotspot she opened with her husband/business partner Leo Anato).
We sat in a cozy nook (the place is full of cozy nooks) and chatted as friends do—despite the fact that this was an interview for Latinarrific.
Leo was in the kitchen and served us both delectable omelets and Maricel couldn’t help but laugh.
“That kitchen,” she said pointing to small galley in the center of the burgeoning space, “was supposed to be my production office!”
Ah, the best laid plans…
You see Maricel and Leo originally took the space as a production landscape (with coffee and wine to be served strictly on the side).
However, it was quickly apparent that a café—a meeting place for Hollywood’s creative crowd, was in the cards.
Miami now hosts the “offices” of their Wild House Productions and Atelier 3 is simply the place to be.
Maricel’s mantle of success is awash with awards—including the Golden Award of Montreux, the New York Festival, AHAA, Addy, FIAP (to name but a few)
Maricel has the props, the chops and the steel-will that it takes to arrive in another country, learn the language, and rise to the top of her chosen profession.
Cha Cha’s creative and business bravura started early, when she was a youngster in Venezuela (the youngest of five siblings).
I sought further growth. I needed to get into the head of the creative agencies, the groups that got the big clients and deals—I wanted to be in the thriving commercial market
Her Father, Mario, was Maricel’s hero (he also was the one to tag her with the “Cha Cha” moniker).
“My father was a land owner and urban developer but his desire to help the less fortunate realize their ownership dreams is what I remember so vividly—how the people would flock and negotiate and he’d work with them best he could.
“I actually sold my first property when I was seven-years-old!”
Her father, however, died unexpectedly when Cha Chas was only eight. Her mother, Celia took to running the business (it became quite the family affair).
A lesser child might have broken under the strain of losing such a profoundly patriarchal presence but it only seemed to embolden Maricel.
“By the time I was thirteen I was on the board of directors of my local youth club—in charge of creating and producing any number of entertainment events.”
In 1996, Maricel arrived in Florida earnestly embarking on the journey of her current career.
After graduating from the University of Florida (majoring in Advertising/Mass Communications and Media Studies) she promptly enrolled at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale where she mastered Production, Cinematography and Film/Video Production.
While enrolled at the Art Institute she doggedly sought production work, literally going door-to-door, from one production company to another. But it wasn’t until she was put in touch with famed director that things heated up.
“That was the game-changer,” Maricel admits with a sly smile. “I arrived on set at 6am (the Nikki Beach Club in Miami Beach). I was blown away by the youthful make-up of the crew. I was hired as a production assistant and we worked 23-hours straight.”
It wasn’t long after that Maricel was advised that a Miami crew was looking for an editor for their upcoming Telemundo production: Protagoisntas de Novelas. The up-and-comer had 10-days to learn the software required for the job. She was onboard for the entire season.
But Cha Cha wanted more –she wanted to produce, and she caught a break when ACA Films hired her to assist renowned producer/director Elda Bravo.
“In 2005 I ventured out on my own and landed the Commerce Bank account—my first solo television project!”
It only got better from there as the go-getter began to build her client base. But in 2009 she abruptly shut down the business—as she explains: “I sought further growth. I needed to get into the head of the creative agencies, the groups that got the big clients and deals—I wanted to be in the thriving commercial market.”
And that she did, freelancing for powerhouses such as Y&R, C.O.D. Alma and Concept Cafe (to name a few).
Suddenly, the media maven was working the biggest markets (Los Angeles, New York and Miami) and that’s when the aforementioned awards started coming her way…
In 2012 success in the form of romance arrived on the Maricel’s shore. That’s when she met Leo Anato (through business channels—Leo, an established photographer).
The two were married in 2015 and opened AT3 a year ago…
Together, the couple own and operate Wild House Pictures and while caffeinating the growing art/culture crowd of Hollywood, they’re ceaselessly creating and cultivating an international clientele…