In this brand-new web interview, we had the opportunity to speak with a rising star of cinema. Ariana Ron Pedrique is making a name for herself in the film industry, having already performed in Netflix and Amazon Prime productions. After playing her parts in Rosario Tijeras and José José El Príncipe de la Canción (Netflix), Two Lakes (Amazon Prime), she eventually debuted on the set of Ayar, her first screen in the US industry directed by Emmy Award Winning Director Floyd Russ.
Ariana spoke about her past experiences, the challenges she had to face to break in the entertainment industry and the ones she had to tackle while filming on set. She also gave us a couple of advice ready for those who want to pursue the same career path, as well as beauty advice and a couple of considerations on her favorite fashion brands.
When did you decide to become an actress? Is there a particular Hollywood star you admire who inspires you?
Even though I have been on a stage ever since I was a kid growing up in Venezuela, it never occurred to me that acting was a career path that I wanted to pursue until I moved to Mexico City in 2011, and I was invited to be part of the Performing Arts School CEFAT. I’ll never forget the first day I held a set of sides in my hands. I knew then that I wanted to do this for as long as I could. I fell in love with it. Before I studied acting, I worked as a TV Host and even tried modeling, but I never felt for those other careers what I feel for this one. Acting is my passion.
I have a list of actors that every time I see them being a character, I am blown away by their talent. Their performances teach me how to be a better actress and inspire me to keep pursuing the stories I want to tell. It would be very hard for me to narrow it down – I love Meryl Streep, Javier Bardem, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Marion Cotillard, and so many more. But one actor that I deeply admire –and even my husband would say I am obsessed with– is Jennifer Lawrence.
Rosario Tijeras was a Netflix number one in tv-series for LATAM and Mexico. How was your experience filming it? Which are the daily challenges you had to face being an actress for such a praised tv-series?
I absolutely loved filming Rosario Tijeras. I remember feeling it was a breath of fresh air. It was my first time working with Sony Entertainment Television, with a wonderful cast and two acclaimed Directors in Mexico City –Alejandro Lozano and Chava Cartas. For me it was a dream come true. It was such a supportive working environment. We all loved what we were doing.
However, the one challenge I had to face when playing Paula Restrepo was speaking with a Mexican upper class accent. Considering my native Venezuelan accent is very different than the one required for that role, that was something I had to keep in mind every day for more than six months of the shoot. But luckily, it went great because even today when Rosario Tijeras’s viewers hear me speak with my real accent they are shocked. Which I love – it means I’ve done my job.
You also filmed Two Lakes which aired on Amazon Prime and José José El Príncipe de la Canción, aired on Netflix UK and LATAM. How did you first approach these roles? Did they have any challenges or funny moments?
Well, what is interesting is that In Two Lakes I play the role Sofía, and for me the best word to describe her would be ‘celópata’, a Spanish word that doesn’t have a direct translation to English, but the closest thing would be a psychopath sick with jealousy. And then I played Nora on José José’s biographical series. This character was a real person in the Mexican Icon’s life who according to the singer himself was the only person supporting him throughout his entire life.
These two characters couldn’t have been more different from each other. And I loved playing these extremes of human emotion. However, even with their different natures I found myself connecting with each of them – and with every character I have played in my life. I guess in order for me to become that character I need to find myself in it.
One crazy thing that happened while filming Two Lakes was that since this was a thriller mini-series, we were shooting in an eerie mansion in an isolated Mexican town called Tlaxcala. And we were all staying in a terrifying hotel near the shooting location. Some people from the crew and cast were saying the place was haunted. Weird things were happening, sometimes objects were out of place, other times we could hear weird noises. At night, it was so hard to find the ease to fall sleep. More than once I wanted to knock on a friend’s door to avoid sleeping alone in my hotel room. It was very scary…and fun!
Do you have any best moments you lived on set so far?
When I played the role of Ayar, I realized how important playing the piano was for this character. Floyd Russ, the Director, logically had already made up his mind about hiring a double since I had never played piano before in my life. But after seeing how crucial playing the piano was for Ayar, two weeks before the shoot I told Floyd that I wanted to play the piano myself.
He said ‘Perfect! You have two weeks’. Which now that I think about it, was a crazy thing for me to propose and yet, I am so happy that I did. I will never forget the ‘moment of truth’ day on location where I had to play the whole song live on the piano while singing at the same time –another thing I had never done professionally before in my life, except for maybe in my shower.
I remember I was shaking and sweating when Floyd said that day on set: “Are you ready? We only have time to do this twice.” Somehow, I managed to do it and that has been, by far, one of my favorite moments on set in my life. It reminded me that we can all accomplish whatever we set our minds to. Even if it sounds impossible.
You starred on Ayar, the new feature film directed by Emmy Award Winning Director Floyd Russ. Ayar recently premiered at SXSW. Can you tell us a bit more about the movie and the part you play? This was your first break in the US film industry, congratulations!
Thank you so much! Ever since I had those first pages of sides that time in Mexico City, I have always wanted to be given the opportunity to play a fully dimensional character like Ayar. Her strength inspires every day. I really do believe I have become more courageous after playing her.
This is a dream come true. I am so grateful for Floyd and everyone in the production to have believed in me for the role of Ayar. She is a first-generation American Latina who is tormented with guilt over leaving her newborn child behind to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. After five years of an unsuccessful career in Vegas, and with the pandemic looming, my character is determined to return home and amend the relationship with her daughter Jasmine (Calliah Sophie Estrada) and mother Renata (Vilma Vega). But when Renata refuses to allow her to have contact with Jasmine due to COVID, Ayar is forced to grapple with past mistakes and peel back the layers of who she has become to figure out who she should be. Floyd found a really unique visual way to bring this story of growth and healing to the screen.
When filming on set you had to face one of your deepest fear. How did you do it? Did you receive any useful advice by your crew?
Yes! There was a scene that was particularly challenging for me. I have a very strong phobia of cockroaches because of an experience I had back in Venezuela. This was one of the most important scenes of the film, it was also the last scene of the day, the last scene in that location, and of course that specific spot by the pool was full of cockroaches. There was a nest. They were walking over our feet. They were throwing themselves in the water. It was definitely challenging for me, I was a mess. But at the same time we had all worked so hard, it was so late, I even remember Corey Waters–who is the nicest and most talented cinematographer– hugging me for a moment and I couldn’t help myself and started sobbing.
So embarrassing! So, I had to have a moment with myself where I was like: “You need to keep it together woman!”. And instead of ignoring the fact that the cockroaches were there with us, I decided to face my fear and use them for the scene. And it worked! It was a reminder that we were all part of a family. And we all wanted tell this story so badly, that we overcame whatever we had to in order to make it happen.
Starring on a movie for the US industry is a huge honor and takes great talent. What advice would you give to someone who wants to break in the cinema industry?
Well, if I am absolutely honest with you, I am still figuring it out myself! So far, I have found three things that have really helped me in my journey. First, know who you are and own it, stubbornly if necessary. Second, believe in yourself so undoubtedly that you make others inevitably believe as well. And last but certainly not least, enjoy the process! Be kind to yourself and others knowing that even when it feels you are not progressing, have no doubt in your mind that you are a step closer to fulfilling your objective.
If you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would you tell her?
Believe in your dream. Nothing is impossible. Breathe, everything will happen when is supposed to happen.
Being LATEST mainly a fashion magazine, this question is definitely a must – Do you have any fashion brands you’re particularly fond of?
There are two fashion designers whose clothing lines I am fascinated with –Oscar de la Renta and of course the legendary, fellow Venezuelan, Carolina Herrera. The femininity and sophistication of both brands captivate me. However, they have beautiful differences – I love how elegantly Carolina Herrera uses the black and white in most of her designs. And, Oscar de la Renta has this joyfulness in his garments that is impossible to miss.
Do you have any skincare routine to start your day with the right foot?
Whenever I have to film, I like to kindly exfoliate my face with warm honey mixed with organic lavender salt the day before. I leave it for at least 10 minutes. Then, I wash it off with a hypoallergenic soap. Lastly, I like to moisturize my face and neck –at least twice a day– with a natural avocado based cream. Lately, I have been adding sunscreen to my daily routine as well. I now find the routine of this process very comforting. However, I am always reminding myself that true beauty comes from within.
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