[Originally published in the May 2015 issue of LatinTRENDS Magazine. Subscribe today!]
Because She’s Freakin’ Awesome
By Giovanna Acosta
Hard working, animal loving, 100% honest and the star of the new movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” in theaters now. We sat with the beautiful Daniella Alonso, and this is what she told us…
Can you tell us a little about the movie and your character Divina?
The movie takes place in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, there is a mall cop convention and Paul Blart ends up going. All the mall cops show up. So you get to meet different kinds of mall cops from all over the Unites States, which is just even funnier! My character, Divina Martinez, she’s the manager of the Wynn Hotel. She’s very put together and everything runs smoothly under her command, until she meets Paul and…
And then madness ensues.
What’s your favorite memory from working on the set of this film?
You know, there are so many because I have to say, this is one of the most amazing sets I have EVER been on. Not only is almost everyone in the entire cast comedians, which is amazing because you’re laughing nonstop… Kevin [James], Gary Valentine, Andy Fickman, who’s the director, these guys are so generous with their talent and their time and every time you do any scene with them, it’s like nothing’s ever wrong. You were just having fun and doing the work. So it was just… I can’t pick a favorite moment, because they were all pretty amazing.
I’m glad that you had such a great experience! You’ve been quite busy lately, in addition to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” you are also playing the titular role in “Isolated Victim,” produced by Zoe and Cisely Saldana. Can you tell us a little bit about that film?
That was a very special movie, in a different way. We shot in the Dominican Republic. It’s loosely based on a true story of this woman who came to Haiti after the earthquake to help out for a few days. She saw that a lot of the kids there lost their parents and they were sold as slaves and the government turned a blind eye. She couldn’t believe what was going on, so she started to fight for these kids and founded two orphanages. It’s a beautiful story about a hero. A normal everyday woman who saw something wrong and decided to do something about it.
How is your character, Liliana Santana, different from your other roles?
I’ve never played a real person, so that was kind of a little added pressure. And it’s somebody who is, like I said, a hero, a real modern day hero—you want to do her justice. When I got the script, I was working on a TV show and I literally had three days to prepare. I worked on it and worked on it, and the day before shooting, the director was like ‘The whole movie is in Spanish, English and Creole’ and I had no idea! So I had a little mini nervous breakdown.
You had to learn Creole?
Yes! I had a coach who came on set every day during lunch and we would work on my Creole.
It was one of the best experiences of my life. We worked with a lot of Haitian children, actors and non-actors. It was just something that, as an American, you’re not really exposed to. They are just the sweetest people, the most generous; they have nothing but will offer you everything they have. It was really life-changing. And I got to work with one of my favorite actors, Algenis Perez Soto, he’s like one of my best friends.
Another Latino! The past couple of years have seen a rise in Latinos/as in film and television. What do you think about the growing numbers of Latinas in entertainment?
I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction. A lot of people that have come before us have fought for this and I’m thankful and always grateful. At the same time, it’s still just a step in the right direction. We are still just “the girlfriends of ” and “the best friends of.” We are still supporting, as opposed to leading. Once we have leading roles and a full Latino cast without just being the one Latino to fill the quota, I think that’s when real change would have taken place. Again, I’m grateful because I have been given so many opportunities and I’m so thankful for them. I just still see the road ahead and see that there’s still work to be done.
Who is your favorite Latina/o actor or entertainer right now?
I love Jennifer Lopez for everything that she’s done, across the board. Her, Eva Longoria, actresses like that, who really fight for Latinos to be seen and represented. I really respect them, and would love to one day be able to do the same. I definitely respect them so much.
If you could work alongside anyone in the future (Latina or not), who would it be?
Right now, my favorite actress is Cate Blanchett. To me she can do no wrong. The way that she transforms from role to role, she looks amazing, and she takes risks, not only in fashion but in her roles, they’re so different! I’m obsessed with her right now.
Talking about fashion, what is your favorite item in your closet right now?
Probably my jeans. My black jeans. You can never go wrong with skinny black jeans. You can dress it up, dress it down, you can do anything.
Obviously you are very beautiful. Can you share some of your beauty secrets with us?
I have eczema on my face. So I can’t use anything like peels or any of that stuff, but what I really try to do is to moisturize like crazy. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize all day long. And stay out of the sun. Sunblock, stay out of the sun, moisturize and drink water. Water is the best.
You grew up in NYC and have a mix of Puerto Rican and Peruvian origins, how has this affected your cultural identity?
I definitely am closer to the Puerto Rican side of my family, my mom’s side of the family, because I grew up with them. I grew up with a very large extended family, my grandmother, her sisters, all in the same building and had 5 or 6 kids, my great grandmother, my grandpa. So I grew up with this really enhanced sense of family. I had friends, but I didn’t need friends because I had my cousins, and those were my friends. And those are the people that I grew up with and that I love and I trust 100%. I was very lucky in that. I grew up in this Puerto Rican household with Latinas that were opinionated and loud and strong women that took care of the household. And that just really molded me. I am very honest, 100% honest.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
How much I love animals. I love all kinds of animals. Every single animal alive. It came from my grandfather, he loves animals and I’ve just grown up with them.
What is next for Daniella Alonso?
I don’t know what the future has in store, but right now I’m working on a show called “Being Mary Jane.” It’s so much fun. I’m such a fan of the show. I just started a few weeks ago. I’ll be playing the new Latina telecaster.
A show called “Being Mary Jane”? Um, yea. We’ve heard of it. It’s a huge hit show! Congratulations Daniella Alonso! Muy bien hecho!