Mexican actress Kate del Castillo might have had a fugitive drug lord as a pen pal. But thanks to her role as a key player in arranging a secret meeting between Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and actor Sean Penn, she just might attract some new and persistent callers: representatives from various news organizations asking her to be their guest at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this spring.

Actor Sean Penn’s interview with recaptured Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo" Guzmán Loera has brought into question whether he went too far. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

Del Castillo is the ur-celebrity invitee to the annual soiree. She’s glamorous. She’s a Hollywood import. And thanks to her status as the apparent linchpin of the weekend’s dramatic events — Guzmán was arrested; Penn published a gonzo-esque account of the whole adventure in Rolling Stone magazine — she has that behind-the-headlines buzz that the dinner loves.

Sure, she might be under investigation by Mexican authorities. But that only adds to the allure!

In Penn’s telling of the story, del Castillo first came to the attention of Mexico’s most notorious narco when she tweeted a message to him, indicating that she would trust him above the corrupt government, given the chance. “Mr. Chapo, wouldn’t it be cool that you started trafficking with love?” she wrote. “You know how to. Life is a business and the only thing that changes is the merchandise. Don’t you agree?”

The clandestine meeting that actor Sean Penn orchestrated with Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman late last year was the talk of at the Golden Globes. (Reuters)

And so began a correspondence between the two, which continued through his imprisonment and after his escape. Guzmán “was interested in seeing the story of his life told on film, but would entrust its telling only to Kate,” Penn wrote, describing how the actress acted as their go-between.

So in early preparation for possibly rubbing elbows with the starlet at the annual A-listy dinner, here’s a primer: Del Castillo launched her career in Mexican telenovelas and is probably best known for starring as Teresa Mendoza, an unlikely drug kingpin, in Telemundo’s wildly popular  “La Reina del Sur.”

She has also had a number of Hollywood parts, including several that nod to her telenovela cred, such as a recurring role as soap star Luciana on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and a cameo on this week’s episode of NBC’s “Telenovela” — in which she plays the star of a rival soap opera and the arch-nemesis of Eva Longoria’s character. (Longoria and del Castillo also starred alongside Christian Slater in the 2011 film “Without Men,” which was not well received and seems to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.)

Like many popular attendees of the WHCD, she has played politicians. On Showtime’s “Weeds,” she was Pilar, a powerful Mexican politician who met an unfortunate (and unexpected) fate, and she’s slated to play the first lady of Mexico in “Ingobernable,” an original Netflix series expected to premiere later this year.

And she has had her share of critical acclaim. Of her turn in the 2008 film “Under the Same Moon,” about a young Mexican boy who ventures across the U.S.-Mexico border to find his mother, Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday wrote that “del Castillo proves to be yet another dazzling discovery, an actress of smoldering beauty who projects a serene air of authenticity.”