Calm down! Everything will happen when it is supposed to happen. Relax and enjoy the process. There’s an expression in Venezuela that really illustrates what I often felt when I was first starting my career –some days I still feel it– and it goes like this “lo quiero para ayer”. Its literal translation would be “I want it for yesterday”. Which refers to those moments where you want something so desperately, that you often feel impatient and cannot wait to achieve it. Is almost like you are already late in your own quest. Leaving you feeling mostly exhausted and unaccomplished.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ariana Ron Pedrique.
Ariana Ron Pedrique is a Venezuelan actress who is currently starring in her American debut feature film “Ayar” by the Emmy Award winning Director Floyd Russ, which had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival (2021). Ariana is best known for her outstanding lead role in Sony’s hit series: “Rosario Tijeras”, which was the #1 series in Netflix LATAM and Mexico in 2017.
Ariana is also known for her astonishing performances in the Lead roles for “Two Lakes” (20th Century Fox and Ronin Studios) which is now being distributed by Amazon Prime and for “José José El Príncipe de la Canción” (FOX and NBC Telemundo) which is now on Netflix U.K. and Netflix LATAM.
Ariana has become one of the top actresses in Latin America due to her stunning performances and continues to expand her career in the U.S. Industry. “It was clear from the start that Ariana is one of the most talented, skillful and gifted actresses that I’ve ever worked with” (Alejandro Lozano; Dir. “Control Z” — Netflix).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me!
I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, to a Lawyer and an Architect. Known as Ari to my family and friends, I am the youngest of four siblings and, according to them, the craziest of us all. I was lucky to grow up in Caracas surrounded by a loving family and many different types of pets –including a snake. I’ve been an animal lover since I can remember.
Something that not many people know about me is that I started working as a model when I was basically a kid… that didn’t work out! Then in high school, I became a TV Host. I interviewed artists for TV Networks in Venezuela and Latin America including the opera singer Sarah Brightman, Santana, designer Custo Barcelona, Kenan Thompson, among others. And then, I moved to Mexico City where I found my passion for acting.
Today, I live with my husband in a studio apartment in Los Angeles and yet, we still make room to have three pets. All rescued. All Mexican.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Even coming from non-stage parents, I believe my unofficial training for acting started when I was a preschooler and my mom would play songs for me whose lyrics told these amazing stories. I loved to act like the characters in those songs. For example, I would dress up and act as Penélope, the woman Joan Manuel Serrat is singing about in this well-known song. I always had an active imagination so I would go in my parents’ closets and dress up as different characters and act like I was a completely different person. I would also reenact commercials for my family that I loved. Little did I know then that this would later become my career.
Even after attending a school that allowed me to be on a stage from the time I was three years old, it wasn’t until I moved to Mexico City that I really knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I had the good fortune to hone my professional skills in Mexico with several lead roles in Theater and on TV including the #1 Netflix series in Latin America and Mexico Rosario Tijeras, Amazon Prime’s Dos Lagos, FOX’s José José biopic series which is now on Netflix U.K and Netflix LATAM. I would later make the decision to immigrate once again, this time to pursue my dream in the United States. Ayar is my American film debut.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was working on set the day the deadly 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico on September 19th 2017. What is crazy is that we had just had an earthquake drill that day, about an hour or so before the real one hit (in commemoration of the terrible 8.1 earthquake that took place on September 19th 1985). I remember we were all kind of undermining the importance of the drill, having fun with it. Not really paying much attention. And an hour later, the real earthquake hit us, and hit us so hard!
That’s a day I’ll never forget! A big part of the location we were filming in collapsed. A lot of people were injured. Ambulances all over the place. The whole City panicked. There was no way you could drive home –the streets were jammed– so we had to walk for hours just to try to get back to our places. It was very challenging. But at the same time, that was a testing moment for all of us. I remember feeling inspired seeing how all the people in Mexico came together to support each other, help those in need and do whatever was necessary to overcome what will always be remembered as one of the most difficult days Mexico has gone through.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I freaked out on my first day of work in Mexico and I ran out of my trailer, half naked, panting and embarrassed myself in front of everyone because for a second I thought there was an earthquake when in reality it was my trailer shaking naturally like trailers do… That was my first time in my own trailer and I didn’t know they have a particular instability about them. Especially if it’s a double banger (where you’re sharing it with someone else). I didn’t even think twice, I just went running outside trying to warn everyone yelling “EARTHQUAKE!” and as soon as I noticed my mistake, I came back in and acted like nothing happened… So embarrassing!
Fun Fact — when the real earthquake hit us in 2017, I was –again– in my trailer and when the earth started shaking, for a second I thought it was the trailer. So I was like ‘Ha! I am not falling for that one again!’. I even thought that maybe someone on the other side was trying to pull off a prank because of the drill we had just had . It wasn’t until the earth literally shook me to the point that I couldn’t walk that I realized it was the real thing.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
For sure! I totally agree with you and I am so lucky to have so many people who have supported me along the way. I have a big list of people to thank. I know I wouldn’t be here without them. But right now I think of my husband, he’s believed in my dream sometimes even more than I have. When I’ve felt insecure or fearful, seeing him so confident about my capabilities as an actor, about my choices and the risks we are taking, it makes me believe. He makes me believe more than ever that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. And I am so grateful for that.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I would say ‘I GET IT!’. I’ve doubted this dream to even be possible sometimes. But then, the moment I started believing stubbornly with all my heart that this is what I am supposed to do, that I was born to do this no matter the challenges, that was the moment amazing things began to happen. Ayar is to me a dream come true that I once thought it was maybe impossible to achieve. But when you give yourself to your dream, fully, trusting your gut feeling you can’t go wrong. Dreams have a wonderful way of coming true.
What drives you to get up every day and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I hope my work serves something much bigger than just my success. I want to see social change. I want diversity, true diversity -across race, gender and ability, as the new normal. I want to create awareness through my work. I want to help dismantle Hollywood’s labels about what a Latina –or anyone– should look like. I want equality, not only among ethnic groups, but among men and women. Equality in pay and opportunities. I would love that a kid from a small town in Venezuela –or any remote place– could dream to become whomever they would like to be. I would love for them to see themselves represented in Film and TV. I know we have a long way to go. But this definitely motives me to keep moving forward.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
I have stories in my heart that I want to tell. I want to be part of stories that make my heart race. I want more fully dimensional characters like Ayar. Additionally I have a potential offer to star in a film by the end of this year. I am also currently working with a writer and producer friend of mine developing two amazing feature films and if everything goes as planned we might be shooting one of those projects soon.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
We all need to be able to see ourselves represented on the screen. This is crucial in both Film and TV because this change will be the most effective reminder that we are all worth being seen. And the change needs to happen behind the camera as well. This will mean more opportunities for all of us around the world and most importantly it will bring social awareness of a broader sense of humanity. This inevitably will bring more knowledge about people and communities who have not yet had their stories told, which will then bring even more curiosity. Most importantly, expanding who is given screen time will result in more compassion. I know there’s still a long way to go, but undeniably, today we are closer than we have ever been to accomplishing this change.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t brush your teeth with the water from the trailer. If you do, believe me, you’ll regret it!
- Calm down! Everything will happen when it is supposed to happen. Relax and enjoy the process. There’s an expression in Venezuela that really illustrates what I often felt when I was first starting my career –some days I still feel it– and it goes like this “lo quiero para ayer”. Its literal translation would be “I want it for yesterday”. Which refers to those moments where you want something so desperately, that you often feel impatient and cannot wait to achieve it. Is almost like you are already late in your own quest. Leaving you feeling mostly exhausted and unaccomplished.
- Trust your instincts. When I first started my career, I was fortunate to have a 5-year exclusivity contract with a TV Network in Mexico. However, actors in this position are usually not in the liberty to choose the projects they want to do. When my contract ended and they wanted to renew it, I found myself at a crossroads between financial security and the liberty to choose the career I wanted to have. I chose to walk away from that contract and that security, today I cannot be more grateful than to have trusted my instincts.
- Don’t be afraid of saying ‘no’. This is, I believe, one of the most important lessons I have learned in my life. Some days I feel like I am still learning it. Saying ‘no’ can be terrifying. Especially to those who you admire, respect or want to work with in the future. However, I will never forget when Denzel Washington once mentioned how important it was for an actor –especially one who’s starting their career– to learn how to say ‘no’. According to him, the first four to five films you do will forever shape your career. When I heard that, I looked up every actor that I deeply admire and checked out their first five to four films, and indeed, those projects have undoubtedly shaped their careers. Since then, I have been allowing myself to say yes only to those projects and characters I know in my heart I want to do. And I feel more courageous every time I have to say no.
- What’s your letter for Santa Claus? Go for it! This is a question people in Mexico ask themselves when they want to pursue those big aspirations they have in their hearts. What is that secret wish that you would put in the letter to Santa? This question has guided my career choices ever since I decided to believe in my dreams. Sometimes, I have felt like the hopes I have for my career are so big they are impossible to achieve. But then, when a great thing like Ayar happens, this only reminds me that my dreams are valid and achievable. They are just waiting for me to believe in them hard to enough to pursue them.
Can you share with our readers any selfcare routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
I wake up every morning and meditate at least 30 minutes. I love finding books that help me align my outer purpose with my inner purpose — meaning, whatever I do as a living and in my daily life, I make a conscious decision to be present while doing it. I admit that some days this is harder than others, but ever since I started living like this, I feel so much peaceful and joyful. Anything that you do with that enjoyment, will inevitably be a success. Some of my favorite books are The Power of Now and A New Earth both by Eckhart Tolle, The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe, A Curious Mind and Face to Face both by Brian Grazer.
I try to work out every day. But being absolutely honest, finding discipline has been more challenging than usual to me especially during COVID. However, I have found in Yoga what I believe I have been looking for years of working out in the gym. Happiness and appreciation for my body, just like it is.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”
When I made the decision to pursue my dream in the United States, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. However, the challenges I encountered were nothing like I expected. As an actor you usually hear the typical ‘going to hundreds of auditions and getting rejected over and over again’ nightmare. However, what I found when I first got to Los Angeles was a so-called immigration lawyer who committed fraud and stole my money. I then had to find a new trustworthy lawyer that could actually help me –in less than 2 to 3 weeks tops– to save my Immigration Case in the middle of one of the most challenging administrations the United States has had for immigrants, especially LatinX immigrants, who are attempting American Residency.
This Immigration process lasted two years. And in all that time, I felt like I was stuck in Los Angeles because I couldn’t leave the country nor work anywhere. Not even to Mexico because if I traveled outside the US, I would’ve jeopardized my whole Immigration Case. And even after that very hard process, when I finally got my Green Card, the new challenge I would find was that nobody wanted to audition me because according to Hollywood I don’t “look Latina enough.” Feeling that you don’t belong, not even in your actual ethnic group, can be very discouraging. So, I suddenly found myself realizing that I had left behind a successful career in Mexico, with non-stop work, to pursue what now felt like a pipedream, in the United States. It was a very difficult moment for me.
But the amazing support I have found in the people I love the most, setting up daily routines that motivated me, and yes even quotes like this one from Churchill was what helped me keep moving forward. And now I am here, and what I once thought was an impossible dream, came true. And I cannot be more grateful to be living this moment. And yet, I know, and hope, this is just the beginning.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to help dismantle labels all over the world. I believe defining people based solely on their skin color, or religion, or gender identity ultimately creates inequity, resentfulness, division and for some even hatred. We are all human beings. Full stop. We are all in this shared experience we call life. If we could only stop with this incessant labeling we may finally celebrate our beautiful nuances — together. No one should be considered superior or inferior to anyone. We are all equally special and powerful. And imagine what we could accomplish if we would allow ourselves to know that.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Eckhart Tolle was the first person that came to mind. It would probably be a very quiet lunch. LOL. But rich in so many ways.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
You can reach me on any social platforms with my handle @arironpedrique. I use Instagram and now Clubhouse the most.
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you so much for having me! I had so much fun answering your questions. I wish you continued success as well!