When we experience life, it is important to remember that those experiences are our own. Although we often want to make the outer world responsible for our feelings, we have the ability to respond with the awareness of empowerment; we can choose to shift our attention to an emotion that feels better. When we wait to feel good based only on the things that happen to us, those emotions become tied solely to external things. However, when we strive for good things to happen within us, that’s where the magic happens; our good feeling emotions are tied to who we are as beautiful, unique, and multidimensional beings. We then realize our happiness can only come from within ourselves. Feeling good can be experienced regardless of any outer stimulation because the steadiness of being in a state of joy is always experienced from within. Then when we show up in the world, we infuse everything and everyone with what is our inner state of being.
Artist Danielle Larracuente, who plays LAPD officer Paulina Calderon in the series Bosch: Legacy, says, “I am a free open Spirit, who just loves joy and brings joy to others.”
Danielle was born in Westchester, NY, to Puerto Rican parents, which exposed her to both Puerto Rican and American culture. She says, “Puerto Ricans are so rich in culture, the island life is relaxed, and we are so loving to each other. It’s beautiful. It’s paradise. Being from New York, I got the New York City toughness; you kind of get that little harder exterior. My parents are both retired NYPD officers, so they are even a little harder. Having the influences of both Puerto Rican and New York City cultures seemed to be opposites within me, yet was really cool. I really like it. I feel like they complement each other; it makes me more of a well-rounded person. Being from New York, you learn as a Latina woman to be more assertive and strong—listening to my gut and standing up for that little girl inside of me. And when I do find amazing people I like, I’m able to immediately connect with them, infusing my Puerto Rican warmth and loving essence.”
Our cultural upbringing is very important to us. But it doesn’t mean we have to choose one or the another; we can be, do, and have it all. We can freely choose how we want to express ourselves from our innately unique vantage point. That uniqueness and preference-making allows us to create, experience, and bring to physical life the divine energies flowing through all of us.
“I grew up in more of a middle class environment, and I didn’t get to see on TV or film Puerto Ricans or Latinos who have careers and raise their kids in a middle class environment, so I yearned to see that. I also wanted to see us not only go through hard times, which a lot of those roles are what we got, but also in roles of lawyers, doctors, and all kinds of successful professionals. I also want to see us in those leading roles. I’m so glad that the entertainment industry is finally starting to view us with eyes of limitless potential which we are! We are a culture with a mom, a dad, two moms, two dads, we are that judge, lawyer, doctor, business owner! That’s what’s important to me as a person and as an actress. I’m so grateful for the project I’m on now, Bosch: Legacyseries playing Paulina Calderon. Oh, my God, I get to play a Latina LAPD officer, which that’s what I saw growing up with my parents’ and many of their peers who were Latino. I want this show to demonstrate the reality that I remembered as a child. I also want us to be seen as being really good at our jobs as I think that’s really important. I’m so grateful because I’ve been doing this since I was four. So I’m like, ‘Yes, we’re moving forward. WE are doing it.’ As a kid, I faced many hard times where I’d get on set, and I was the token actor. I also had to fight for that token role up against African American, Hispanic, Asian actors, BIPOC —all for that one role. That’s hard, especially since that’s not how the real world is reflected out there. So I’m excited to see where it goes from here,” shares Danielle.
But, the physical realm is becoming more subjective to what is considered the ultimate truth—everything is continually expanding and becoming fuller and more than what it was. It takes one person to make a different choice about what’s possible and then become that leading example for others that shifts generational contexts of beliefs, inspiring others for new possibilities to be expressed. That can be clearly seen within our own immediate household, where our grandparents and parents made specific decisions that led us to experience a better life than they had themselves.
About inspiration and leading by example, Danielle candidly says, “I’m the third generation of Puerto Ricans in the US. So, this is what I am- my dream- and my passion is to always show myself through my work and hopefully somebody, like a little girl or a little boy out there, will tell me that I helped them through hard times or saw themselves in me. I hope that they get inspired by seeing me become a cop on TV, or a lawyer, or anything that breaks the stereotypes, and opens the possibilities to what I am portraying through my artistic expression.”
Being unapologetic about our self-expression means being in tune with the essence of who we are. There is nothing to prove, validate, or even convince anyone about who we are, only to experience the divine lifeforce flowing through our physical faculties. This confidence, trust, sureness, and self-love are inevitable when we see ourselves and, therefore, others see us from the perspective of our divinity.
I did learn a lot from filming Bosch: Legacy and the role of Paulina Calderon. It was very fast and very quick, and I had to learn a lot very fast. And I, as you guys have seen in the season, I get shot. What I loved about her essence is she was sure of herself. She is a part of the LGBTQ community and a force to be reckon with! Her presence is like, they better not give me a hard time because I’m here to stay, and I’m going to be badass. I borrowed that from her. I’m like, wow, she’s so cool. I admire that she’s unapologetic about it and does her job well. She wants to go far in her career. I brought her strength for sure into my life. Moving forward I said, ‘Danielle, you have to be a little surer of yourself. You’ve been doing this for a long time.’ I see myself acting now with this attitude, no more second guess myself. I’m going to think like Paulina.’ I love her so much,” passionately shares Danielle.
About her experience of being part of Bosch: Legacy and the value it brought to her, Danielle says, “Bosch: Legacy is just a nail-biter. It’s a really good TV show to watch. Great actors. They’re going to keep you wanting to engage and see what happens. I would love to see this show go on forever and ever. We need good TV to be like that. I can tell you, the cast is amazing on and off the set. I mean, me, Maddie, and Denise go out for Taco Tuesday. We are home girls. This is real love. This is a real family. The minute I got there, everybody on that set was so nice and welcoming. More sets like this need to happen, so we need to keep this experience going for others. A really good storyline for Paulina. I would love to watch her go up the ranks, defy the odds, and get back to the force. Right now, I’m still in the hospital bed. So let’s see what happens.”
We all have dreams, and we all want those dreams to come true in our life. Our readiness to experience that which we desire most is our readiness to believe with unwavering presence in the unfolding of our desires. But when we measure too much, we can introduce doubt and fears that simply indicate that it’s time for us to chill out and pause so we can clearly see where we are from a distance. Then recharge, and immerse ourselves in the discovery of that desire in a state of knowing to enjoy the process of its becoming.
“Little short stories that I feel like empowered me and made me who I am today. Again, I’m a child actor. I actually got out of the game at 18 years old, and I had to rediscover myself. Back in the day being a girl with curves and a person of color, I had a lot of discrimination. And I asked myself if this was the career that I wanted. I just need to take a break. So, I dabbled in other fields; I went and got my BA in Psychology and worked in that field for a year. I also got my cosmetology license and worked in that field for a little while. Then I ended up becoming a mom. I had my son, and there was that moment where I said, ‘How can I sit there and tell my son to go after his dreams and I was not because of what somebody said or a naysayer or whatever.’ So in 2019, I got back into it steadily for a year straight. In 2020, it was one of the big roles that I got on Vida. Then it just snowballed from there. Taking care of yourself first, is the true goal. I left acting, got myself together, and came back stronger than ever. Because the art was my true passion, I genuinely feel I am being rewarded for that. That is the big message I want to give to actors out there. I have more of a sense of self. I would say that landing a good role was a huge empowering moment for me, because I was able to go get back into the game and have success with it. This was huge. I also would add that being a mom, I want to validate other moms because I feel like there are not a lot of women who have a young child and are trying to pursue their dreams. I think that it is important to say to these moms, ‘I see you, I hear you, and you can do it; I promise you, if I can do it, you can do it,’” lovingly says Danielle, and then continues, “I literally just did a meditation this morning, on trusting because it’s hard sometimes when you want something so bad, and you’re waiting for it.”
Meditation is one of the most powerful tools to soften our physical senses so we can tune into our inner world, which naturally brings us to a steady state of being. Then from that steady place, we can apply that perspective to anything we choose to give our attention to, therefore deliberately directing the energy where we want.
About her son, Danielle says with a big smile on her face, “My kid, he marches to his own beat. He is the happiest kid- he’s so well-rounded and happy. He told me something the other day. We were playing this little game that he has, and I said, ‘Oh, man, I really wanted to get that reward’ He tells me, ‘Mommy, sometimes you just have to be happy with what you got.” I said, “that’s it. Brilliant. Yes!” And if someone is having a bad day, he said, ‘I’m going to hug him. But then I’m going on my way.’ Because you put your own mask on first, right? My son Benson takes care of himself first. He’s very loving, but he is doing his own thing. He’s a little actor out here too. So it’s a mom and son duo. And whenever he doesn’t want to audition, he’ll tell me, ‘Mommy, I don’t feel like doing that audition today.’ And I would call his agent and say, ‘The boss said he doesn’t want to do this audition.’ He’s very much about taking breaks and having a good time. And that’s what kids teach you—happiness.”
Children are our best teachers. They remind us that life can be lightheartedly experienced. They remind us that fun, joy, and happiness have no age. They remind us that we all have the sensitivity to listen to our inner intuition; it’s just as we grow that we play a prank on ourselves, pretending we are disconnected from our divine self.
“I’m going to speak from my soul, and I really feel like I’m really good at connecting with a person. And I feel like I do a good job of trying to see someone for who they are and relating and trying to be as genuine as possible in the moment. I find that’s a really good trait of mine. I definitely want to connect and try to be some sort of help or hope in someone’s day. I like that about myself. I really love to see people be true to themselves, whatever that is. That’s what I admire in others. Most people, when they’re really raw and then unapologetically themselves, I’m so drawn to that. I love to see that joy in their eyes and that confidence, they’re not wavering in their decisions,” says Danielle.
Everyone’s choice is a valid choice. Every expression is a valid expression. Every belief is a valid belief. When we decide to honor how we want to express ourselves without pushing against others, which in turn comes from pushing ourselves, our life experience will be filled predominantly with joy.
Photography // Kelsey Hale