EXCLUSIVE: Transgender Actress Daniela Vega Discusses Role in Oscar Nominated Film 'A Fantastic Woman'

@dani.vega.h/Instagram

The 2018 Oscar nominations are in and this year you might notice The Academy has recognized diverse LGBTQ stories. Oscar-nominated films, such as The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name, and A Fantastic Woman, have love stories that the LGBTQ community can relate to on screen.

One particular film has a Latina lead who is earning international recognition for her role in Una Mujer Fantastica, A Fantastic Woman. The film is Chile’s foreign language nominee, directed by Sebastián Lelio, which stars breakout star, Daniela Vega.

A Fantastic Woman tells the story of Marina Vidal (Daniela Vega), a waitress from Santiago who is in the middle of celebrating her birthday with her older and divorced partner, Orlando (Francisco Reyes). The couple lovingly discuss future plans together but all of this comes to a huge stop when he suffers a sudden heart attack and dies.

The film unfolds a series of events that show the remarkable resilience that follows Marina, a trans woman who is ostracized by Orlando’s family and suspected by police as a suspect in his death. The film captures surreal moments of Vega navigating through this tragedy.

Latina caught up with the 28-year-old actress as she prepares for her a trip to Japan for her film.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you started acting? Was it something that always interested you?

In the beginning of my life, I wished to be a woman first and then I desired to be an artist. But art came to my life as a key to unlock a lot of doors in my head, in my heart, and in the social situation too. I desired to be a woman first and then an artist.

Congratulations on the film winning at the Berlin Film Festival (Best Screenplay) Can you tell us about your experience there?

The experience is amazing. We keep traveling around the world and I think it’s a very good opportunity to share and connect with other people, artists, producers and people who consume art. And it’s a good moment right now to share new ideas because I think we are in a type of winter in the world and we can find some flowers behind the snow.

Could you tell us about the process of the film, I understand you started first as a 'culture consultant'?

Yes, I started working with Sebastián Lelio’s and Gonzalez Maza (co-writer) just as a consultant and I think maybe one year later Sebastián asked me if I wanted to do the role. I was like, 'OMG YES!' So it was very natural, very organic. Then with the shooting and this beautiful journey all this year, it has been an amazing experience for me and the most important moments in my life.

Without giving too many spoilers, in the film your character has to deal with death and the loss of someone. How does your character take on that role?

I think it’s something natural - death, life - it’s natural situations in life and this character. Marina is completely alone. She is alone because her partner died and the family of Orlando prohibited Marina to go to the funeral. She is completely alone in Santiago trying to find an answer trying to take a good decision about the situation, a completely strange situation and she fights but who knows if she “wins” the race?

Would you say there are similarities between Marina and yourself

No, I think Marina is very elegant sophisticated and she is completely different. I feel more common person - she is fantastic and she is even more skinny than me!

Do you feel the transgender experience in Chile is accurately depicted in the film?

The movie begs a lot of questions, the movie is not an answer and it’s not a realistic woman we just tell the story about the girl and an older man in love, how death can separate a person, and how society can crush and try to block some persons. The movie asks, what are we doing with empathy, what are we doing with love, and how is it possible in this century people think about transgender people like if it was the middle ages?

 

Anoche fuimos a una función de #UnaMujerFantastica organizada por @glaad . Ya, todo regio, llegamos, entramos a la sala, y empezamos el conversatorio con los asistentes. Derepente veo que alguien levanta la mano... Se parece a la @lavernecox , me dije. (como se me quedaron los anteojos, no veia bien) Ya, la mujer hizo su pregunta y tate, caché que era ella pos. Y al lado voy cachando que estaba nada mas y nada menos que @angelicaross , que también hizo una pregunta. Y luego miré así como jugando mas acá y estaba la @zackarydrucker . Ahi pensé, que bonito es el arte que conecta personas de allá y de acá. Que linda es la resistencia, que lindo es pertenecer. Gracias chiquillas por estar ahi, por sus palabras. Gracias a toda la chiquillada rebelde y diversa que llenó la sala anoche aqui en los angeles. Fue muy bonito ❤✨

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Would you say especially in Latin America?

It’s not different around the world. it's almost the same.

What message do you want to share with people who watch this film?

What are you doing with your empathy? With love? With this particular moment in human history and do you feel comfortable with this situation? And if not what are you doing to change it? You only need an idea to change