We are born into this physical world with a wide-open perspective mimicking what we see, expanding our ‘muscle’ of attention. As we grow, we learn that we are a child to our parents, that we are a boy or girl, that we are a student when we begin our education, that we are a friend, that one day will have a profession, that we eventually might become a parent, and so on… We adopt various identities in our lives, taking it for granted that this is who we are. But what if we are the life force that expresses itself through these identities, propelling our continual becoming, regardless of what we identify with? Perhaps then, rather than attempting to represent all of our identities at once, we will be more present in the moment of completely honoring each of them.
Ariana Ron Pedrique is a Venezuelan artist who moved from Mexico City to LA two years ago, aiming to continue to realize her dreams into a fuller expression of who she is becoming. She says, “This year, particularly in 2020, I’ve been learning a lot about spirituality—discovering who we really are. If we really want to dig it up, I believe that is one of the most difficult questions to answer. So, I definitely have the simple version of it. I’m Ariana. I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. I believe my unofficial training for acting began when I was still a little girl. My mom used to play us the song Penelope from the Spanish song-author, Joaquim Manuel Serrat. Many of these songs have amazing stories behind the lyrics, and I love them. I always wanted to interpret and act the characters in these songs, so I would dress up as Penelope and act as if I was her. I had a very beautiful upbringing in my country. But when I moved to Mexico City, that’s where I embraced my passion for acting. Now, I’m here in LA to continue pursuing my dreams.”
We are more than our possessions, our professions, and whatever identity we choose to play; we are much more than our mind, body, and emotions. All these are tools that guide us to recognize where we are in relation to where we are moving through life. We are the embodiment of love, and we cannot but love ourselves and others; however, we can be aware or not about it. We are this loving vibration that expresses itself through everything we focus on—the creative force of energies behind the physical realm we are experiencing.
“I’m a big fan of Eckhart Tolle, and he mentions in his books that we are about 99% empty space. So, all that we see as physical forms is basically our imagination. We are all connected to this beautiful thing we call life; we are all part of this Universe, but we’re also totally different, unique, and special. I might not know anyone in China or South Africa, but we’re all part of what people call God or the Universe. I absolutely think we are co-creators. And hopefully, we are here to manifest what makes us happy while also contributing to the beautiful life of everyone and everything around us. For me, that’s who we are.” Ariana says passionately.
There is mutuality in everything, and we are like mirrors reflecting each other’s beliefs, co-creating and shaping the world around us. We always have the tools to be more aware of it and create a balance in dancing between our physical focus and then going within to be unfocused. This movement, in which we observe from the perspective of Self and then going within to see from the perspective of Oneness, is what brings out the steadiness with which we express ourselves from within and without.
While we are currently involved in challenging events around the globe, it has provided us with the opportunity to sift and sort through our preferences and intentions. It allowed us to take the time to go within and learn about ourselves from a different perspective.
About her experience this past year, Ariana shares, “Yes, it was definitely a very challenging year for all of us. In my case, my whole family contracted COVID-19. Thankfully, they’re all safe. So, I’m very grateful for that. But, I think one silver lining of the virus is that it allowed us to understand how we are all interconnected. We’re all working together as a world to solve one of humanity’s most difficult challenges. Another aspect of this year for which I am thankful is that it helped me to slow down. I never knew how much I needed it, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, those are birds I’m hearing. That’s so beautiful.’ Now, I love to hear birds every morning. Whenever I have breakfast, instead of watching TV, I sit on my balcony, basking in the sun and listening to the birds’ tweets. I’ve been meditating every day, and I found this beautiful power that we all have within ourselves to be successful. What I mean by successful is to be joyful, even though that thing you really want hasn’t yet manifested.”
There is no need to force things; we can always find the balance between planned actions and going with the flow activities. When joy is the intention behind everything we decide to do, the outcome of the experience we want will follow naturally. And if we don’t depend on a specific outcome to make us feel good and happy, the satisfaction of steadiness will bring us everything we want.
“I feel so blessed to have grown in a family that supported my dreams, no matter how crazy they might seem. My mom is a lawyer, and my dad is an architect, so I come from a non-artistic family. And all of a sudden, I’m this crazy kid in the house that wants to put on my dad’s clothes and dress up like a man, or maybe dress up as a woman, or maybe create a character out of the story behind the lyrics of a song. So, the fact that I get to do that today for a living is so amazing. But actually, what motivated me to move to LA in the first place was that after working in Mexico City for almost ten years –the funniest thing happened– I reunited with my high school sweetheart, who was living in LA. He is now my husband, but back then I remember he said, ‘You’re an actor, and we’re dating. Why don’t you move to LA and come live with me?’ And that’s how it all started and at the same time this allowed myself to dare to dream big. And to be absolutely honest, as an actor, how can you not dream of doing it.”
Ariana is considered one of the most recognized actresses in Latin America. She followed her calling as the next logical step to move to LA the moment she opened up to new opportunities without contradicting her own desire. She is ecstatic to be able to bring authentic stories and narratives about colorful and diverse Latino culture to Hollywood.
Ariana says, “There are so many amazing actresses and actors in Latin America, and to me be considered one of them, it’s an honor. As a Latina actress, I often thought it would be difficult to work in Hollywood. I was almost ashamed of admitting that I wanted it because when I went to the performing arts school in Mexico, it was something that you wouldn’t talk about with your fellow actors. If you were working in Mexico City, you were already so lucky. I think I’ve never allowed myself to fully believe in my dream until I started dating my now-husband. I noticed that I was limiting myself. So, I decided, ‘I’m going to try it.’ And so happy that I did! Now that I’m here, I see so many more possibilities ahead.”
Regardless of the context and what was considered too difficult or challenging to accomplish, Ariana gradually realized that, in the end, it is her choice to take the steps in the direction she considers is best, and most exciting for her at that moment.
“For so long in my life, I thought someone else decided whether I was successful or not. I allowed the industry, a director, or a casting director to decide for me whether I was successful or not—that’s a very dangerous perspective. Because it means that if you’re not achieving what you want to achieve, every second of every day, you’re miserable and you’re unhappy. And I felt like that for a long time. 2020 has allowed me to understand that I have the power to choose whether or not I’m successful. I realized that success is about the quality of presence you give to the activity in which you are currently participating. So, I use that for my acting, and I like it. Now, I’m connecting more deeply to the characters that I’m performing because I allow myself to be fully present,” Ariana shares.
Ariana’s creative expression expanded beyond a technique; it became the process of fully immersing herself in what she is doing at any given moment. Ariana continues by saying that, “I have a need to express myself in any way that I want to express myself. And also, there’s another thing that I have found, especially here in the US—as an actor, you’re always looking for amazing stories to tell. You want fully dimensional characters, you want to be able to share a story that will connect with many people and hopefully create consciousness, positive change, that can hopefully be groundbreaking. In Mexico, I was working so much that I didn’t even have the time to think about the objectives I have with my career. But here, I got that little spark of curiosity about writing, and now I allowed myself to write. So, since I am enjoying the process, it is already a successful event. Floyd Russ, the director of the feature film Ayar, in which I play the title character, was also incredible to work with. When he called me, he didn’t just offer me the role of Ayar; he also invited me, and Vilma Vega, the incredible Peruvian actress who plays my mother, to participate in the creative process of the script. This allowed us to take hold of the narrative, not only interpreting, but helping to write our own characters, which is a testament to how authentic Floyd wanted this story to be. For me, this was a gift.”
Ayar, Ariana’s character’s name, means “adventurer, explorer,” or “one who seeks fortune in new and dangerous or imperialist ventures.” This not only represents Ayar’s journey, but it also allows the audience to discover new shapes and colors behind the Latin culture, stories that are not often told but real and empowering.
“I think one of my favorite things about acting is the fact that I get to, for a moment, almost forget who I am, and become someone else and see life through their eyes. But you’re doing it safely. Because at the end of the day, you wrap up, go home, and know who you are. That allows me to live so many lives in one lifetime. So, I learn everything I can from somebody else’s perspective of life, and then I bring it back to me.”
Ariana, during one of her scenes, had the opportunity to overcome one of her biggest fears. It’s not always easy to step outside of one’s comfort zone, but it becomes harder to do so without taking action. “It was the last scene of the day, around 1 am, and we were exhausted. We were shooting on set in a motel in Lancaster, California, in the middle of nowhere, during the pandemic. And one of the most important scenes of the film is by the pool. Everything is set up and ready. It’s so important that the director is almost anxious about this scene. I get to the chair, feeling ready. Suddenly, I see a cockroach, and I freak out. And then I turn my head, and I see a full nest of cockroaches wandering among our feet, even in my socks, and they were throwing themselves into the pool. It was insane. I was a mess. I remember having a moment with myself, and was like, ‘Ariana, keep it together. Let’s do this. We’ve worked so hard to get here. And this is your dream. This is one of the most important scenes of the film. Are you going to limit yourself because of this phobia that you have?’ So, I came back to set, and I used the cockroaches to get even more deeply into character for that particular scene. And now it’s one of my favorite scenes.”
Then Ariana continues saying, “First and foremost, it showed me that I am stronger than I thought I was. And that it’s all in our heads, everything. So, I used what I’d learned through all of my meditations, and other mindfulness activities, to calm my racing mind. I think now, if I face a major challenge, I know that no matter how impossible a situation appears to be, I can still return to myself. I can understand, while being compassionate with myself, that it’s something difficult for me. And that’s okay.”
All words carry the contextual meaning that we give to them, connecting them to our thoughts that eventually become our beliefs and those evoking emotions that indicate how our actions might unfold and the outcome we will experience. So, expectation in synergy with our desire, within the context of that expectation being a clear knowing, is confirmation of that desire on the path to manifest.
Ariana has a clear expectation that people will benefit from watching Ayar because “It talks about family, reconciliation. This film is about a first-generation American Latina who after an unsuccessful attempt at a showbiz career, faces an internal crisis. She must confront her past to realize what really matters to her now – her daughter. We usually don’t see Latinos play a role like this one. And I love that. The most important message that I hope audiences will take away from the movie is this: look at what we can achieve when we work together as a family.”
Ultimately, the most important relationship that we can cultivate is with ourselves. It is natural to love ourselves, so it is also natural to love others. And even though sometimes we might turn our backs on that innate love, we know it is always there and available to us at all times. And when we welcome it again, we will feel it more and more because we will not only evolve as human beings, but our love, in a deeper and fuller way within all of us, for all eternity, expands as well.
Photography // Ben Cope