Cristela Alonzo: Racing through boundaries

 
By: Paulina Lopez-Velazquez @iampaulinalopez

This past weekend I was lucky enough to meet and hear directly from the talent behind the new Cars 3 Movie hitting theaters this weekend.  It was my first time attending a press junket and I really didn’t know what to expect, but I must say that I left feeling more connected and in love with the story.   Plus, I’m not going to lie, I was totally fanning over Owen Wilson, the super-hot Armie Hammer, Kerry Washington (eeek!) and of course, our girl Cristela Alonzo!

 

I have been a fan of both the Cars franchise and Cristela Alonzo for a long time now, so when I found out she would be involved in Cars 3 I was beyond excited.  Excited to see the movie, excited for her, excited for the Latino community and now I can say that I am excited for the generation of girls (including my girls) that will be watching and getting inspired by her character “Cruz Ramirez”.

 Photo by: @iampaulinalopez

Photo by: @iampaulinalopez

If you know a little bit about Cristela you know she is not shy talking about her background, her humble upbringing and the fact that she grew up as she says, “poor without knowing it.” In fact, she is very outspoken about it in all her mediums. She has always been a face and a voice for the Latino community and we are all very proud of her accomplishments because she is an example of perseverance, hard work, of breaking barriers and fighting against stereotypes.  And Cruz Ramirez is just that, the perfect reflection of Cristela.  A female succeeding in an environment where all odds are against her, even her own doubts and insecurities.

 

The director, Brian Fee, told us that he wanted to deliver this message to his daughters through the story, “Never be afraid to try something.” He explained that there are a lot of things that are treated as “only for boys or only for girls” and he wanted to be very intentional about breaking that stereotype. There are quite a few female characters within the movie that manage to accomplish this.  Watch for Miss Fritter, voice by Lea DeLaria, you will love her! 

 Photo by: Victoria Infante

Photo by: Victoria Infante

I do have to say that this movie is not gender targeted, and this is what I find most fascinating.  Kerry Washington another female powerhouse (voice of Natalie Certain) pointed out that the movie manages to empower you beyond gender and beyond color. I agree with her, Cars 3 does not refer to gender but skill, it’s about the best person for the job doing the best they can. It’s about inclusivity, perseverance, learning from the ones that came before us, the ones that inspire us, honoring them and passing on that knowledge. We see that in the relationship that blooms between Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramirez

 

When Cristela was asked, who inspires her, she immediately said “My mom. She managed to give us a good life regardless of the circumstances around us…” She also mentioned her teachers, who pushed her out of her comfort zone and who told her, “If you want to dream, do it!”  I believe that a lot of our kids, particularly our girls, will identify with Cruz Ramirez, I know my girls already do and that makes me very excited. It is not every day that we see a Latina playing a big role on the big screen. It is not very often they see themselves in a movie character. I applaud Pixar for the great job they are doing including minorities into more main characters within their projects, and most importantly for not falling into stereotypes. 

Change is happening and as parents we must teach our children that they should trust their instincts, believe in themselves and follow their dreams. Cristela said something very important, “Tell kids that they matter, that it is possible to have a dream.”

Make sure you watch Cars 3 when it hits theaters June 16th, I know you will love the movie just as much as I did!