Colombian Soap Star Adriana Campos' Brief, Storied Life and Death: An Appreciation

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Adriana Campos

The 36-year-old actress and her partner died in a car accident Tuesday, leaving behind their one-year-old son.

Adriana Campos’ many soap opera roles included that of the gorgeous villain in love with her cousin in Bellas Calamidades and the beautiful native maiden in love with Zorro’s dad in El Zorro: la espada y la rosa.

But no drama came close to that of her own death.

In the early morning hours of Nov. 3, Campos, 36, and her fiance, businessman Carlos Rincon (who has also been identified as her husband in some published reports), both died when the car they were traveling in fell into a river off a road in Colombia. The circumstances that led them there blended the love and tragedy that for so many years was Campos’ bread and butter as a soap star in more than 19 productions. 

She was in love at the time of her death. Rincon was the father of her one-year-old son Geronimo, and they were planning to get married soon. In fact, according to Colombian daily El Tiempo, the point of that fateful road trip was precisely to plan their wedding. They had left their son with his grandparents for the night and were returning early to Medellin, Rincon’s hometown, to see him. By 6 a.m., they were on the road.  

According to local authorities, an investigation of the accident site seemed to indicate that Rincon, who was driving, might have fallen asleep for a few moments, leading him to lose control of the car, which plummeted into the river.

“Adriana was a charismatic and versatile actress who, despite her youth, had built a long ... career,” says Colombian TV producer and director Magdalena La Rotta. “She was part of many successful productions next to well recognized actors and, thanks to her wide-ranging ability, was able to play all kinds of characters. At a personal level, she was very liked for her positive attitude and warmth, and that also reflected on-screen, making her a very beloved actress.”

Campos was born in the small town of Chaparral, Tolima, located southwest of Colombia’s capital, Bogota.

When she was eight years old, her mother took her to see a performance by the Ballet de Colombia Sonia Osorio, a Colombian company that blended classic and folk dance. Campos was enchanted and dreamt of being a professional dancer. 

Instead, fate led her to acting. When she graduated from high school, she moved to Bogota to study international commerce at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University.

One day, she happened to stop by the studio where they were filming Padres e hijos (Parents and Songs), a long-running Colombian daytime series, and caught the eye of one of the producers, who asked her to audition for a role.

Campos had never acted before, but she landed the supporting role of Ana Victoria Beltran, the best friend of one of the show’s stars. “It was God, coincidence and destiny,” she said in a later interview.

As it turned out, Campos was a natural. Her stint in Padres e hijos was followed with roles in a succession of series and soaps, where she was able to play both the beautiful villain and the ingenue with equal ease.  Although Campos never landed starring roles, as a supporting actress she was twice nominated for TV y Novelas awards.

Eager to learn, she studied with some of Colombia’s big theater stars, like Paco Barrero and Alfonso Ortiz.

“I did everything I could because I wanted to be a great actress,” she once said. “The effort I’ve put into studying has been obvious because my characters have grown day to day.”

Campos’ roles indeed grew, and she expanded from only Colombian television to international productions like 2007’s Victoria, a co-production between Colombia’s RTI and Telemundo. There, Campos played a supporting role and met star Mauricio Ochmann, whom she would date for several years.

Although Campos did not have leading roles, she worked constantly. But in the past couple of years, she had retired to take care of her son. Her last roles, according to El Tiempo, were in theater and in the 2013 TV series Amos de Casa.

“It’s not easy being a mom,” she said laughingly during a TV interview with Colombian network RCN in October 2014, where she showed off her son, who was then only three months old. 

“You’re up all night. You definitely can’t sleep [like] you used [to]. Going out with them is hard," she said. "But the love you feel for them makes up for everything. There comes a moment where you say, my God why did it take me so long to become a mom? This is the best gift God has given me.”

The latest news from Colombian authorities indicated that she and Rincon didn’t drown, but instead died from injuries sustained in the crash. Campos’ body was transported on Tuesday to Bogota. She will be cremated, according to published reports.