Daniella Pineda on How Her Culture "Painted" Who She Would Later Become
Honor is something that is deeply engrained within the Latin community. Growing up, many Latinos are taught the principles of honoring their family, their morals, and their culture.
Mexican American actress Daniella Pineda credits much of who she is largely in part to the reverence she grew up with.
Pineda, who stars in the upcoming film Plane alongside 300's Gerard Butler and Luke Cage's Mike Colter, tells People Chica that her heritage "painted" the woman she'd later become.
"So, yeah, I never forget where I come from and I never forget where my family comes from. I think it's painted—it's painted who I am. It's what's made me a comedian. It's what's made me an artist," she explains.
In an exclusive interview with People Chica, Pineda dishes why Plane is the perfect movie to see if you haven't been to the movies since pre-pandemic times as well as the advice she'd give a younger Daniella about conquering a little thing we call life.
Plane joins Gerald Butler and Mike Colter for a jam-packed film about a determined, honor-bound pilot teaming up with a mysterious accused murderer to help save a captive crew and passengers. What was it like preparing for the physicality of this role?
You know, I didn't necessarily have to physically prepare so much. I would say, on that front, it was slightly less demanding because I'm playing a flight attendant. I wasn't playing Superman, but I will say in general, actors—usually, you have to be in a little [shape]. You have to be in shape, regardless, just to protect yourself and protect your back and protect your knees. And so it does help.
There is a certain level of being in shape, I think that's required of any movie. But I was not prepared for the gimbal, which was moving the plane in the turbulence [scene]. That was like no joke. And oof, man, I was not prepared for the heat. That heat was real.
At its heart, Plane is about finding your inner strength to help you get through difficult times. How has this philosophy helped you throughout your career and life?
Well, I think that people are extremely, extremely resilient. And I think that's something that's really helped me get through really difficult times. Mind you, I've never been on an island overtaken by pirates and taken hostage, but I've had some weird situations. And I think knowing that life blooms, right, success blooms.
We're kind of like we're like flowers—you're not blooming 24/7. Things aren't great all the time. Sometimes things are really bad, but those really bad times, they do pass. It's not bad all the time, it's not great all the time.
And so just knowing that you have to keep going because even if you're stuck, whether you like it or not, things are going to be changing and you always have to have hope to be on the other side of that.
Mike Colter's character is a symbolic reference to how there is more to things than meets the eye. Why do you feel that we as people shouldn't jump to the rush judgment of others?
I think we shouldn't jump to rash judgments [...] of others, even though we do because we're on social media and it seems like everyone's at the stake publicly. But there's always more layers to everyone in every situation, and I think it's better for humanity as a whole to have empathy for others.
It's like saying, "you never know what someone's going through." And you know, some of us are more privileged than others. I think it's just always good to keep in mind that you should always give people the benefit of the doubt. You know, maybe they're having a bad year and you're catching them on the bad year.
What do you hope people take away from this movie?
I think what I hope people take away from [it] is that after they buy their ticket and they go see it in theaters, you know, I think if you haven't gone to a theater in a really long time, this is the movie to do it. I hope that they take away their nostalgia and their remembrance of why it was so enjoyable to be in a dark room with strangers enjoying a movie.
You're a successful Mexican American actress, writer, and comedian. How do you hope to continue shining a light on your culture and community through your work?
Well, I actually have a couple of projects that I'm working on that pertain to my family history. I think I have a very specific experience that often doesn't get represented, which is that I'm a third-generation Mexican American on both sides of my family. And that is a unique experience that often doesn't get represented.
So it is important to me to, I think, by virtue of telling my story, I'm actually telling the story of thousands and millions of other people. So, yeah, I never forget where I come from and I never forget where my family comes from. I think it's painted—it's painted who I am. It's what's made me a comedian. It's what's made me an artist. So, yeah, I'm all about representing la raza for sure.
If there was a piece of advice that you could give young Daniella about her journey through life, what would it be?
I would tell [a young] me to take a deep breath, and just stop for a moment and think about how far you've come—it's not the end. I felt like I was so in a rush to get somewhere when I was younger that I was unaware of the journey as a whole.
I just wanted to be successful. I wanted to have it now, but I was also like a total maniac who was all over the place. So I think I just would have told myself to just take a pause...take a pause and a breath, and you may feel like you're going nowhere, but it is leading somewhere.