Is 'Queen of the South' Based on a True Story? Inside the Book-Inspired Drama Series

Samantha Faragalli Younghans - Author

Apr. 24 2020, Updated 2:09 p.m. ET

queen of the south
Source: Getty Images

Queen of the South has been captivating fans since it hit the small screen in 2016, and now, in the heat of the compelling fourth season, viewers can't help but wonder if the hit series is based on a true story. Scroll down for everything we know!

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The star of the show, Alice Braga, once spoke out on the topic. "I think it's inspired by some female, some women who were cartel leaders, but it's a fiction book," she revealed to Bustle. "The book is very different from the series. I mean, it's inspired by the book, but the journey for the character, they decided to create a different journey." 

Is Queen of the South based on a true story?

It's no surprise that there are questions about whether or not the show is based on true events, especially considering the fact that the series is inspired from Arturo Pérez-Reverte's best-selling novel, La Reina Del Sur

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So, is the book a true story then? Not exactly. While the book drew inspiration from real-life events in the drug world, it wasn't entirely based on a true story. And before USA Network decided to air the show, there was a telenovela based off the same book that aired in 2011.

That said, Queen of the South's executive producer David Friendly had to contact Telemundo, who housed the show, but they told him the book's author had to give him the go-ahead.

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But that wasn't exactly easy. "For about a year, literally, I spoke to his agent in Spain every day begging him to let me make an offer for the English rights to the book,” he told Vanity Fair. “I thought it was a terrific story.”

But he eventually got his way. “They got tired of my phone calls, I think, so they allowed me to option the book.” Well, thankfully they did!   

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Is Teresa Mendoza real?

On the show, Alice plays protagonist and drug lord Teresa Mendoza, whom USA network describes as "a poor young woman from the 'barrio' of Jalisco, Mexico who found a way to rise above her hopeless conditions — first by falling in love with a successful member of a drug cartel, then eventually by creating her own powerful drug empire and becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world."

But even though Teresa is the character in the book, she's not a real person. That said, Alice had to do a lot of work to try and become that character. "I watched a bunch of documentaries about the powerful women of the cartel world, like Cocaine Cowboys, and there is a real 'La Reina del Pacífico,' which is 'The Queen of the Pacific,' which exists in Mexico, so I tried to read about her." 

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queen of the south
Source: Instagram

She added, "[I was] kind of inspired by true events, but trying to base myself on the character from the book, which I think it's a wonderful character. So I tried to at least get the human being she is, like the core of the character, even though the journey is different from the book — trying to honor Teresa Mendoza from the book."  We think you're honoring her quite well, Alice!

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