What is your hometown, and where do you live today?
New York City, and I'm still here. I do dream of moving out of the city all the time, but until then, I go out and get into nature as much as possible.
Please tell us a bit about your work and mission.
My mission is to make work that generates empathy and shared experience, and helps people connect to something larger than themselves, or rather, their larger Self- whether you call it Nature, the unified field, God, or even just "meaning'. As an actor and filmmaker, and former dancer, storytelling and performance has been a beautiful tool for expressing that. For the past 18 years I have also been a student of Vedic knowledge, meditation and various somatic practices-- all pathways that have informed my work as an artist, and that I am feeling increasingly called to share more formally as another vehicle for this mission. The more we expand our consciousness and become attuned to our intuition, or innate knowing, and the more we are able to hold space for the healing of ourselves and others.
In a few words, how do you define your approach to beauty?
I would say my approach to beauty is natural and "inside out." I eat lots of colorful plants and drink 2-3 liters of water a day. I don't use a hairdryer, and used to not even brush it- though lately I have discovered the benefits of a good hairbrush! I'm not big on makeup, but do love a little mascara or a bold lip every now and then.
Any inherited beauty practices you picked up from your family or roots along the way?
I was very close with my maternal grandmother, and would sleep in her room every time she would travel from Colombia to visit us. I loved to watch her meticulous nighttime routine of layering zillions of lotions and potions, putting her hair in foam curlers, and even wearing gloves over her hand cream to bed. I haven't started the gloves bit yet, but the care and love she showed for herself during these practices has stuck with me. She also always said not to let anyone cut your cuticles, and I still don't.
Knowing you so well, I feel that beauty and health are inseparable in your approach. Can you share more about other self-care practices you implement to nurture yourself?
I think so much of beauty and feeling attractive is about being tender with yourself and feeling good in your own skin. For me, taking care of my health plays a large part in that. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition caused Hashimoto's Thyroiditis in my mid-20s, a time when we don't always treat our bodies kindly, and also tend to be insecure about how we look. I ended up being prescribed to a drug called Synthroid that gave me horrific side effects for two years, which no one could figure out, until a practitioner I met finally saw the connection and put me on a natural form of thyroid hormone.
The experience changed my life, I would argue (despite the pain it caused) for the better, and taught me the vital importance of being one's own health advocate. Informed consent is unfortunately a hazy issue for many practitioners, and misogyny in health care is very real! It is great to have doctors and practitioners out there for us to reference and call on to support us, but ultimately we must take charge of our own case, educate ourselves and have agency in that process.
What are the highlights of your skincare routine? The products or steps that are non-negotiables?
First and foremost, Joaquina Botánica! I am a clean beauty junkie and this oil is truly magnificent. I was lucky to get to use it throughout the formulation process over the past few years, and it does everything it promises to. I cleanse only at night. I also am a big fan of the Hydrating Essence, which I apply throughout the day but always before serum and oil. I love my friend Jenna's line, Linné Botanicals -- my two favorite products are the Scrub Mask and the Renew Serum.
You have been inculcating me with the importance of SPF, something I only ever used at the beach, and I am starting to use it on the daily. Like with all of my routines, new motherhood has challenged some of the consistency in my skincare, but when I can I like to do a nice facial massage, dry skin brushing, and Self-Abhyanga.
Can you walk us through your wellness rituals each day?
The non-negotiables of my morning routine: I wake up and clean my tongue with a copper tongue scraper, brush my teeth, and splash my face. I then drink a big glass or two of (room-temperature) water with my Armour natural thyroid pill, followed by Pranayama (breathing exercises) and 20 minutes of Vedic meditation.
I try to move my body for 30 minutes each day, and now that I am breastfeeding, I drink at least 3 liters of water a day. Since health and the body are not in a static state of continuum, my routines around food, herbs and supplements shift from season to season. I love SuperYou, a blend of adaptogens by my friend Amanda Rogove of Moon Juice, and lately have been starting my day with a moringa latte blended with collagen, some hot water, and homemade almond milk. Moringa - prized in both India and Latin America for centuries - has been called the "Miracle Tree" because it contains so many vitamins and minerals, and aids lactation. I cut caffeine out of my life two years ago, and have experienced more level energy with fewer dips in the day.
Tell us about your favorite beauty destination - spa, store, practitioner?
I love Sarah Clarke of Stillpoint Beauty for facials. My friend and Health Coach Daphne Javitch of Doing Well has been integral in helping me develop a relationship to taking care of myself and making it a priority. She brought a real commitment to water drinking into my life, as well as the joy and importance of good poops via the Squatty Potty, amongst other things! I highly recommend following her @DoingWell, instagram for the best tips alongside beautiful and inspiring images.
My favorite wellness destination is Vana in India. It is a singular place, where time seems to stand still. Besides the exquisite Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, organic food grown in their biodynamic garden, and the kindest team who make you feel at home, of the real highlights is that they don't allow phones in the common spaces. I took the opportunity to turn off my phone completely for two weeks while we were there over New Years. We also made lifelong friends while there, I believe in part because we didn't constantly have our nose in our phones. I feel that one of the greatest hindrances to our general wellbeing today is our attachment to phones and technology. I try to balance its benefits for connection, with time set aside without it so I can practice moment to moment awareness, sharpen and extend my attention span.
How do you apply your life philosophy to your work with acting or filmmaking?
The greatest fuel for creativity is being alive in our bodies, and fully inhabiting the present moment. It is the juice, the 'zone" - and other people can feel and sense when we are there, and when we are not. Our full attention and presence are the greatest gifts we can share with another. One of my mentors and teachers, Josh Pais, a prolific actor and founder of Committed Impulse, speaks to the importance of training yourself to come back into the moment when your mind goes into negative self talk or nerves send you into a frozen physical state. He teaches us that while the mind is not going to stop trying to trip us up, our ability to come back is something we can develop.
When it comes to creativity and performance, the minute we try to force or control things they are never as good. This is also true in life I think! Letting go into uncertainty and being ok with it, to find comfort in the uncomfortable, is the ultimate spiritual practice. It is something we've all been faced with in this pandemic year- the uncertainty or limbo that many artists, especially actors, are faced with all the time.
Can you share some of your tried & true home wellness remedies?
I make homemade bone broth, which is so nourishing. My intestines were a mess after contracting parasites during years of living in India, and then again more recently while shooting in the Amazon. It was so helpful for gut healing and soothing, and was also beneficial in pregnancy and postpartum, when protein and collagen needs are high. I also make overnight herbal infusions--most recently a blend that I used to support fertility, pregnancy and postpartum with oat straw, nettle, raspberry leaf, and alfalfa. I also make overnight herbal infusions--most recently a blend that I used to support fertility, pregnancy and postpartum with oat straw, nettle, raspberry leaf, and alfalfa.
Speaking of motherhood, can you tell us more about what the journey getting there was like for you?
Two years ago I had a miscarriage at 9 weeks. When I went for a check up afterwards I was told that some of my hormone levels were not optimal for fertility, and that at 35 I should be really concerned about this. Before going to a fertility doctor, I decided to really tune into what was going on in my body, which still was reeling from the trauma of the loss and subsequent autoimmune flare. I spent several months eating a low inflammatory diet, drinking the herbal infusions, and in addition to my regular meditation practice, worked with a medical support hypnotist who helped me clear some mental blocks around control and getting pregnant. After a while, we opened the door to invite in a child again (my hypnotist encouraged me not to use the word "trying"!), and I soon became pregnant with our now son Lucio Massimo. Of course this process is different for everyone, and I can only share my experience here, but I believe these tools for the mind can be empowering and of great solace on all roads to fertility, IVF and otherwise.
You truly healed beautifully! And Lucio arrived in the most empowering birth experience. Can you tell us a bit about what that was like?
After experiencing the loss in my first pregnancy, I felt very clearly the second time around that I wanted to have a homebirth. The care we received from our exquisite midwives at Heart Science Midwifery was unparalleled, and healing on many levels. Mental wellness is fully integrated into their approach, and all of their clients practice a psycho-sensory therapy called Havening. They stand by the adage "how you feel changes how you birth" and it could not be more true. Homebirth is not for everyone, and I truly believe the most important thing is that a birthing woman feels safe. Of course that looks different for everyone, but the utmost importance of respect for mental wellness remains the same.
Our mind is inextricably linked to the hormone system that goes into play during labor. I wish all practitioners, obgyns included, took this seriously and were trained in practices like Havening. I believe our birth culture would look a lot different! My labor was 40 hours, and though it was the hardest work I have ever done, and required my full attention, I did not experience suffering. I credit my amazing midwives and doula and my husband Mario with making me feel cocooned in safety, love and support, so that I could go to places in myself I did not know existed. I know my meditation practice also was a great aid in this.
Can you share more about how your mental practices came to play in this time of your life and in your everyday self-care?
Having a daily meditation practice completely changed my life. I am an emotional person who can really lean into the highs and lows and drama of life, and before my meditation practice would so easily get off kilter. However, for the past 8 years my baseline has been one of bliss. This doesn't mean I don't struggle or experience pain or disappointment, but I am able to recover more quickly and come back to feeling peace and contentment, and can see the bigger picture. Health, whether mental or physical, isn't a straight line. Life has its seasons and will throw you wrenches every now and then. When we nourish our baseline and practice coming back to it gracefully, we find strength and resilience.
I believe in in the power of love, and in developing a loving kindness practice that starts with loving our selves. Negative self talk will never go away, because the thinking mind wants to bring us down with shitty thoughts. It's not about escaping or erasing them, but rather about becoming aware of these voices and the power we give them - cultivating our "Inner witness." This is a natural result of vedic meditation practice.
Having been faced with challenges around health, I explored every diet and protocol under the sun and constantly looked outside of myself to find answers. But in the past couple of years, I had the realization that there is no one-size-fits all solution, and that all the answers I needed were inside myself. Our bodies are like compasses when we learn how to listen to them. Our intuition is our super power, and one that sadly is often obscured by conditioning. I had to learn how to get out of my own way.
I've always been an ultra-sensitive empath and intuitive person when it came to the world around me, but it was when I used that to guide myself and trust my gut instincts that life started to unfold effortlessly and I found the healing of both my autoimmune condition and life trauma. I will always be a voracious student of the wisdom traditions, and I want to help guide others to discover this light and power within themselves through counseling and teaching. Excited to share more in the months to come!
What is your favorite way to stay active?
Long walks and my yoga practice (I am a certified instructor). I also love just dancing in my living room (Ryan Heffington kept me going throughout the pandemic).
What is your favorite self-care or mindfulness ritual?
Self-Abhayanga massage, a type of Ayurvedic massage you give yourself with warm oil.
What is your favorite fruit?
It's a tie between 3 Colombian fruits - unripened mango (mango biche), sapote, and guanabana.
Favorite escape in Latin America?
My grandmother's garden in Cali, Colombia, and the Amazon where I spent some months filming a Netflix series.