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Dominican actress Dania Ramirez stars in her first leading role in David Koepp's Premium Rush alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt as aggressive bike messengers trying to get from point A to point B by dodging speeding cars, New York City pedestrians and crazy taxi drivers.
The athletic actress sat down with me in Beverly Hills to talk about Rush, being a role model for young Latinas, her recent collaboration with Voto Latino, and playing a maid in Devious Maids.
Movies.com: There were times during the movie that I thought you were for sure going to land on top of a taxi. How challenging was it to stay on your course and not fall?
Ramirez: There's not a lot of CGI and a lot of the stunts are performed by actual people and some of them by us. I think from a human perspective you feel like there is a lot more danger because you can see yourself in that situation.
We trained for six weeks in Los Angeles prior to going to New York City. We basically rode our bikes every day on set and on the days we had off. The endurance part was really important because for the whole movie we are on bikes and delivering all our lines while riding the bikes. Being in New York City presented a whole other challenge. You had cab drivers, pedestrians and it's loud. The city is loud so the level of preparation was of concern. We had to be really committed to our characters.
Movies.com: You play Joseph Gordon-Levitt's love interest. Did you realize going into this project that you would be working with Hollywood's golden boy?
Ramirez: "Golden boy" is more of a term used by fans or the media. Joe is just really down to earth and really committed to his craft and I was really lucky that we had great chemistry and that the filmmakers really liked me to be his leading lady in a movie. It was very exciting.
Movies.com: Jamie Chung in this film plays a single mother trying to bring her son from Thailand to the U.S. It's a storyline that hits pretty close to home for you, right?
Ramirez: Her character goes through that struggle of wanting to reunite with her son and that's something that resonated with me. I was left in my country, my parents moved to New York when I was six months old. I was raised by my grandmother in the Dominican Republic. That struggle of the immigrant American trying to reunite with their families is something that was beautifully done in this movie. It isn’t just an action movie but it has heart and taps into something so real for people that are living in America.
Movies.com: With your rising popularity among young Latinas, are you more conscious of the roles you take on?
Ramirez: I choose roles based on the characters that I want to play and the directors that I want to work with and that is my profession. Who I am as a person, that's who I want people to be inspired by. The fact that I have a story, that I am Latina, that I came from the Dominican Republic, that I was not born in this country and have worked really hard to get to where I am, that to me is a lot more inspirational then playing a role in a movie.
Movies.com: You just teamed up with some big names for Voto Latino. Tell us about the cause and why you think it's so important for young Latinos to vote this election season.
Ramirez: I just did a PSA for Voto Latino with Wilmer Valderrama and Demi Lovato and it's to inspire the youth to own who they are and to own their space here in America. It is important for Americans in general to understand that this is the land of opportunity and that we do have a lot of really hard working people that try to come here for a better future and we should celebrate that.
I'm not telling anyone what to do. Whichever way you feel like voting that's your personal choice. I just want to remind people to educate yourself and do whatever you think is right. You have a voice and you should let it be heard.
Movies.com: You're also working with Eva Longoria who is producing the TV show Devious Maids. You'll get to costar with Ana Ortiz, Edy Ganem, Judy Reyes and Roselyn Sanchez. What can you tell us about your character?
Ramirez: Devious Maids is very much about the immigrant woman. I play Rosie Falta; she's an immigrant woman from Mexico living in California working for a couple of actors who just had a baby so I end up being the nanny. I'm also going through some personal struggles because I've left my son back in Mexico. I'm also trying to keep a job in which I feel like I have personal integrity.
Movies.com: Is playing that sort of character important to you? Do you feel like there are good characters available for Latinas in Hollywood?
Ramirez: Absolutely. I think it's important as a Latina to be promoting a Latina character that is not a caricature, but a three-dimensional character and that is seen as a real person. There's a lot of humor that comes into it and it's the first show that's really groundbreaking because it will have five Latinas as leads.
It goes to show you that there are just not a lot of opportunities for Latinas as much as we are excelling here in Hollywood. The fact that all of these Latin actresses were out of a job and now we have a show where we can showcase our talent, I'm really grateful for Marc Cherry for creating a show like this is.
Movies.com: I've heard from many Hispanic actors that the best way to find good roles is by creating them themselves. Do you agree?
Ramirez: It goes beyond asking for those roles. I'm producing a film called Runaway Love and it's about this woman who is living in Los Angeles and is traveling back to Mexico to see her dying mother. I think it's important to create other jobs for our Latino community and most importantly for our Latino community to be supportive of the talent that's in Hollywood. Whether they think it's a stereotype or not, I think it's important for Latinos [to watch] and be supportive of the Latino talent.
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