Dascha polanco gives life to Cuca in the new film by Lin Manuel Miranda, “In the Heights”, which hits theaters this June 10. Along with her we will also see Anthony Ramos, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Stephanie Beatriz and Olga Merediz, among other talented actors.
Cuca works in the Washington Heights beauty salon, a New York neighborhood where 70% of the population is Latino. This place is a neuralgic meeting point for Dominicans (and Latinos in general) during the weekends, something that the actress understands perfectly, since she has lived it throughout her life: “I, As a Dominican, I have lived in a living room. There [en República Dominicana] It’s something you do weekly, it doesn’t matter how poor or rich you are, you do your hair and that’s already therapy, ”the Dominican interpreter tells us.
In addition, the film recognizes that it will conquer the public because it is an explosion of color, feelings and representation: “There are so many emotions that I do not know how a person is going to be able to see that film and not feel the emotion,” Dascha anticipates.
And what was it like working with Lin Manuel Mirando and the rest of the cast of the film? Don’t miss the full interview below!
Always woman: Dascha, we are just a few hours away from the highly anticipated premiere of the musical film “In the Heights”, What can you tell us about the movie?
Dascha Polanco: Well, it’s a very special project for Hollywood. It is the adaptation of the play by Lin Manuel Miranda, which together with Quiara Alegría Hudes they had done a long time ago and which is directed by Jon M. Chu. It is a magical and very special story. I am very proud of this project.
SM: In addition, the film has a cast that is mostly Latino, something that is not very common in Hollywood, what does it mean for you to be part of this project?
DP: It is important that we see the achievement of having diversity. May we see that stories are important to everyone and keep that celebration present. We are already seeing a lot of changes from what we have seen in the past. And for now, I am surrounded by so many talented people, so many people who are, not just actors but people who respect the work and the opportunity that they have received. The truth is that we really enjoyed the music, we danced… There were moments when I took a little time to realize it, look around and say, “wow, we’re here and it’s reality. This is really happening ”.
SM: You had not played a role before in a musical movie where you had to act, dance and sing, how did you decide to audition for this role?
DP:My love, I don’t need encouragement! (ha ha ha) When they give me a chance, I take it where I have to take it and that way I go. One takes the bull by the horns! Obviously when I auditioned, as it was my first opportunity as an actress teaching my singing and dancing skills for the new role of Cuca, it was a very great responsibility and I respected her a lot.
SM: How did you prepare to play the role of Cuca?
DP: I had my coach vocal and I worked with Chris who was the choreographer. I was available and that’s something I learned. You have to be open, you have to be available, you have to have dedication and discipline. To play the role of Cuca, who is one of the new characters in the room, I used the essence of my aunt. As a Dominican, I have lived in a living room. There [en República Dominicana] It is something you do weekly, that no matter how poor or rich you are, you do your hair and that is therapy. The room, I think it is the epicenter from where one receives therapy, support and is the matriarchal center of the community and that is seen a lot in the scenes that the three of us do, Carla (Stephanie Beatriz), Daniela (Daphne Rubin-Vega) and me.
SM: Dascha, tell us, what was it like working with Lin Manuel Miranda?
DP:I adore him! He is a very humble person, very respectful, a person who celebrates and supports his talent. When we were in a scene with him, you could see how present he was. As busy as he is but he was always present with us. And that, I respect a lot because one reaches levels, and sometimes, one forgets where it comes from. I think he will never forget where he came from. There is a lot of humility in that being, in that family and that is important. Sometimes you have to know what you are worth but also know that you come from far away and that nothing is given, that you earn it with work and effort.
SM: The New York neighborhood of Washington Heights is one of the great protagonists of the film. What does it mean for you, as a Dominican, that this neighborhood has so much prominence?
DP:It was time! Because there they enter, leave and record all the shows but never something like that. The Washington Heights community was so supportive… it was amazing! It is a community that gives love and that celebrates. You know that now with gentrification, sometimes, we want to clean up, get rid of ourselves, but we don’t realize that we are part of the neighborhood. The Washington Heights neighborhood is a neighborhood that has always celebrated, where the music is always loud. It is a very close-knit community. They supported us a lot, they even wanted to be part of it, who didn’t! And you see that and say, “wow, what pride, what inspiration and what respect they deserve.” I am there, right in front, in line with my flag held high and representing my Washington Heights community, being Dominican and very proud because I cannot deny it, I am from there and always will be. I will always be Dominican and I love it, I live it and I carry it in my blood. It’s magic!
SM: What does it mean for you to be a reference for young Latinos? What advice would you give them?
DP: Very grateful for that. What I can say is that you always have to believe in yourself, follow your intuition and face the mirror. Know that if you do not dedicate time, if you do not put yourself to work towards the goals and objectives that you have set, nobody is going to give it to you. For some the opportunities come tomorrow and for others later. Also, do not look to one side, or look to another, just look at yourself. Your path is yours and all paths are different. I tell you that because it is something that I am still learning and, sometimes, you want to compare yourself, especially now in the time that we live that everything is social networks. You have to realize that you cannot let anyone stop you, when you believe in something and believe in yourself, you have to move forward. Get on and just focus on yourself. You first, if you don’t love you first, no one will love you.
SM: And speaking a bit of loving yourself, Dascha, you are a woman who looks confident about yourself and who loves you inside and out just the way you are. How have you managed to get to that moment in your life?
DP: That is a process, one learns little by little, with the experience of life. You are born believing something and then experiences try to overshadow you. I had a lot of experience that they tried to overshadow and prevent me from having my teenage daughter and also studying and working at the same time and nobody stopped me. I am still growing as a woman and learning to love myself as a woman. It is time that after this year that we have had, we wake up and be more open to the message of celebration and support.
SM: What do you think the audience is going to like the most about “In the Heights”?
DP:For me, in addition to music, I also think it will be color and emotions. There are so many emotions that I don’t know how a person is going to be able to see that movie and not feel the emotion. I even cry with the trailer.
Photo: Andrea Fremiotti