While in LA for the #Cars3Event we got the chance to interview some of the talent from the film. Our first round of Cars 3 Interviews included Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Kerry Washington, and Cristela Alonzo. During that interview, Cristela said some very deep and motivating things. Alonzo plays the role of Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3 and based on that role, it seemed fitting to share these life lessons from Cristela Alonzo.
Life Lessons from Cristela Alonzo
#1 Take Chances and Be Yourself
When Cristela Alonzo got the call that Pixar wanted to meet with her, she was on her way to do a stand up tour in Canada. They didn’t tell her anything, just they wanted her to go to Pixar. They flew her up, and she had no idea she was being considered for the role of Cruz Ramirez. She didn’t know anything but that didn’t keep her from turning down the invite. It also gave her the chance to be herself.
I didn’t know anything until I got there, and then they made me sign papers and I’m like ‘what am I doing?’. It wasn’t until they gave me a tour and then they sat me down in an office and broke down this Cruz character, and immediately I thought wait a minute, this is a job interview, like I would have dressed up better for you. I mean, I’m wearing my target vest, but still, you know, like who, what where, right guys? So I became involved with it and I working with the film in November of 2015. I had no idea, and honestly I’m glad no one told me because I would have been very nervous. It allowed me the chance to be myself and not have any time to work on fake me. And I ended up getting it, and it was, I mean, who ever thinks that you’re ever gonna be part of the Pixar world. I mean, it’s incredible. – Cristela Alonzo
–> Warning: Spoiler Alert in #2 <–
#2 You CAN Be The Best, Boy or Girl
When Cars 3 director Brian Fee screened Cars 3 in Arizona, he told Cristela about something unexpected that happened. The girls at that screening couldn’t understand that Cruz had won the race. Some of them had to ask their mothers if they had understood the story correctly.
For me, that story is something that I carry now with me because it’s such a simple story that she would win the race, yet it never occurred to anybody that she would win it. You never even think about it and then when you see it, you think wait a minute, she can absolutely win the race. Why can’t she? But it’s such a weird thing that we’re so accustomed to not have that story, that experience, that when little girls see it they don’t even believe their eyes. It’s that story, that moment when I heard that story, that’s what I wanted kids to get out of it. Especially girls, you know. The fact that if you’re good, you can win. If you’re the best, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. You just have to be the best and try hard, and that’s the best take away from this story. – Cristela Alonzo
#3 Don’t Dream Small
Cristela Alonzo said she “likes to talk about where I came from, how I grew up and get very personal very quick”. Because of that, she got chatty with John Lasseter in the recording booth one day, about her life. A life that helped evolve the character of Cruz, who actually started out as a boy.
I started telling John Lasseter how I never thought I was going to be a possibility. So many people tell you, especially in the kind of hood that I grew up with, they always tell you that you can’t do anything. Everybody in the neighborhood is very quick to knock you down a peg. Lasseter took that story and actually ran with it. There’s a speech where I get upset at Lightning McQueen, and one of the lines is ‘dream small‘, he told me. That was actually a line that I told Lasseter about my family. My family always told me to dream small, and it was that thing were they told me to dream small because they didn’t want my heart broken. It was that thing where they always said you can’t have big dreams because big dreams don’t happen for people like us. So it’s that story where that speech and these stories that I started telling Pixar evolved into Cruz. I always tell people what I like about Cruz, yet at the same time it’s very heartbreaking, is that Cruz gets to win in the story, and I don’t know if I get to win in my story. So it’s that thing where I try to bring that part of me into Cruz, and I think that that’s when they realized that a lot of the heart of the story came from that. – Cristela Alonzo
#4 Don’t Limit Yourself
Mentorship is a major part of the story line in Cars 3. Cristela’s mentors are her mother, how passed away years ago, and her drama teachers in school. She went to a public high school in a very small town and those teachers saw something in her. Something in her that helped teach her not to limit herself.
I will tell you my high school was 99% Mexican, and we used to do plays. My freshman year, we did the Diary of Anne Frank, all Mexicans. I know, and it was like so weird because we didn’t think it was weird. We just did the show and I think that doing something like that actually taught me that you couldn’t limit yourself into doing things. We wanted to do the Diary of Anne Frank, and we did it, because realistically how many plays do you have for Latinos? Hamilton wasn’t around back then, you know. I had a teacher in college tell me that, as a Latina, I could do West Side Story and Chorus Line, and I did West Side Story and I did Chorus Line, and then I thought, well, I guess I have to retire from theater. You know what I mean? I don’t even think my teachers realized what a great lesson they were giving me by telling me yeah, you can actually do a play about the holocaust and be in it, and actually do it. I think that’s something, without them even knowing, in such a subtle way taught me so much. – Cristela Alonzo