[Originally published in DTM Magazine Issue #34; December 2006]
The SITE is the DTM magazine offices and our team is anxious to meet Dania Ramirez, the star born in Dominican Republic appearing in “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Her role opposite Oscar winner Halle Berry (Callisto in X-Men: The Last Stand) and her role as AJ’s (Robert Iler) girlfriend in the popular TV series “The Sopranos” are only a few references about this star.
After exchanging a few words and a photo session is started, you can easily observe her spontaneity and simple ways as outstanding elements in her personality. In talking to her, that mystic veil from the Hollywood star breaks up and soon you sense that you are interacting with your next door neighbor or with an old schoolmate. The actress who is only 26 years old, told DTM that she is turning her career a whole circle, making it more versatile.
Dania has already entered the recording studios to register her voice to some lyrics in the tempo of reggaeton. This new role of hers could well be a revelation for many (especially if you listen to the contagious and provocative theme “Candela” in MYspace) for the artist however it is only a natural step. “I love singing and since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a singer as much as I did of being an actress. I am very happy with this project. I still do not have a label; I’m still in my first phase yet, but I am very enthusiastic about it,” comments the artist who is starting her first steps in the music world as DR, which stands for her first and last name, which happens to be the abbreviation in English of her native Dominican Republic.
Dania, who emigrated from native Quisqueya when she was only 10, came and joined her parents in the United States, is telling us that she keeps her culture and native roots very present and that recently she has visited the island more often. She also recounts that one of her recent trips to her country will remain in her memory as one of the unforgettable moments in her life, since it was there in the island that she received the engagement ring from producer and movie director Jessy Terrero. “To me it was like a dream. I am very happy and though I do not have yet a date for the wedding, I am sure that it is going to be there, in Punta Cana. My boyfriend is Dominican, so both families could be present,” adds the actress, smiling who graduated from Montclair State University. Likewise, she confessed to have the illusion of having Maestro Juan Luis Guerra singing at her wedding.
Since her debut in the HBO film “Subway Stories” (1997), Dania has taken strong steps to give shape to her career. She has worked with movie directors Spike Lee and John Singleton and also Bill Cosby selected her to play Lauri, the charming high school student whom Fat Albert (2004) falls. “I am happy to be making the things I do, but I still have many things to do still. I have not done even half of the things I want to do, yet. Besides, I still do not have an Oscar in my hands,” she remarks. Dania also left some room to talk about her new projects for the big screen, the start of her movie career, among other things.
LatinTRENDS: You are now in New York to tape some new episodes of The Sopranos. How was your experience with the cast of such a popular series?
Dania Ramirez: For me, it was a marvelous experience. Really I have no idea of the kind of reach my role has indeed, because it is a recurring one. It is an incredible cast, and it is an honor to be part of the series. As for my role, I can say that I feel somewhat identified with it, in the sense that when I came to the United States from Dominican Republic I lived for a while in New York but very soon we moved to New Jersey, precisely my character is from there and it makes me feel comfortable.
LT: What was working on “X-Men: The Last Stand,” like, particularly working with Halle Berry?
DR: It was a great honor to work with such talented actors. To work with Halle Berry was a privelege, she gives you the opportunity to learn, and that was very valuable to me.
LT: The movie “Illegal Tender,” which was produced by John Singleton will be released soon, tell us about that film.”
DR: The film was shot in Puerto Rico, with Wanda de Jesus and Rick Gonzalez. I loved it because it is such a good story. It was written and directed by Franc Reyes. It gave me the opportunity to work with John Singleton and the thing I liked the most about it was all the actors were Hispanic. This type of production is great for our community, because it gives more opportunities to Hispanics.
LT: After being a part of major films like “X-Men: The Last Stand” what do you think about independent movies?
DR: I like working on independent films a lot, because they are more intimate films, and you get more liberty to develop your roles that in mainstream movies. I want to alternate my work and leave room for these types of movies.
LT: When did you discover your love for acting?
DR: As a child, in Santo Domingo, I loved to play and pretend I was an actress or a singer. My aunt, who I was living with at the time told me she always knew I was going to be an actress because I used to reinterpret and act out roles from the soap operas. When I arrived in the United States my interest in acting grew and I found the opportunity to learn and develop what I had learned.
LT: How is your work in music doing?
DR: I started a demo lately, but I would love to cut a record. I would love to mix together some rhythms, but there is no rush for that yet. I am at the moment where I like to try and define things. However, my first love will always be acting. I have many songs, and I am very enthusiastic because this is something I always wanted to do.
LT: What are your memories of the Dominican Republic?
DR: All my family is from there and even though I have been away for a long time, I always keep my Dominican culture alive, wherever I go. I adore the music, the food. I still remember my school.
LT: Another Dominican-born, Zoe is making some space in Hollywood. What do you think about her work?
DR: I love Zoe. The first time we met we found out we had the town of Cotui in common. She told me when she was a child she lived there for a while, and so did I. Recently we met in Santo Domingo and we enjoyed a lot during the inauguration of the Global Movie Festival. We also spent some time at Sammy Sosa’s birthday. She is moving to Los Angeles, so we shall be closer than before.
LT: Where are you spending Christmas?
DR: I would be spending Christmas in Brazil. This is an exception because almost every year I spend it with my family. Last year, I spent it with them in Dominican Republic and we enjoyed it tremendously and had a great time.
LT: What would you like for Christmas?
DR: My great and only wish for Christmas is that my father and mother be in excellent health.