This Yahoo! original series will introduce you to success stories, to the public figures who have crossed cultures and languages to leave a mark in the Latin and US markets. In this episode, get to know Dania Ramirez, a former tomboy growing up in the Dominican Republic who has taken her energetic personality and sexy ambition to Hollywood where she's paving her own way to stardom.
Actress Dania RamirezShe's beautiful, talented, sexy and one of the entertainment industry's brightest stars. Her acting résumé includes roles on TV powerhouses like "Entourage", "Heroes" and "The Sopranos". However, this young Latina's journey to Hollywood began with a glimmer of ambition mixed with an exceptional dose of unconditional love.
Raised by her grandmother in the Dominican Republic, Ramirez knew she wanted something more out of life. "I wanted to do more. I wanted to reach the skies," says the actress. She was a tomboy who played with the neighborhood boys, liked to jump on rooftops and occasionally steal money from her grandma, who Ramirez says was her biggest source of support. She gets emotional when she remembers abuela's love: "I do everything I do now because of her. I love her."
At age 10, Ramirez moved to New York City with her parents, where she began to learn a new language while adapting to a new country. Yet, deep inside she knew she was going to hold on to her cultural roots: "I knew I was never going to lose that Spanish-speaking self."
Watch Ramirez discuss the struggles she faced as a Latina in Hollywood:
Ultimately, a chance meeting with a modeling scout at a convenience store led to then 16 year old Ramirez to pack up and move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment business. "Getting turned down for being Latina…for being a woman…is something you'll always have to battle," says Ramirez of the inevitable rejection that comes with being an actress.
She began getting offers to play "sexy Latina" roles which she gladly accepted. Her tomboy years had given way to a lifestyle of fitness that kept her in great physical shape, perfect for those first roles.
Today, this Latina actress is seeing her dreams become more of a reality with each new project. Her latest endeavor has her starring with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the movie "Premium Rush"; she is also part of the ensemble cast of Marc Cherry's upcoming TV series "Devious Maids".
Ramirez continues to forge a life in Hollywood on her own Latina terms, but she hasn't forgotten those dream-chasers like her: "I want to create opportunity; that's something that I'm really interested in."