Dania Ramirez is proof positive that dreams really do come true. Born in the Dominican Republic, Ramirez shares “I came from a really small town where we didn’t have any running water or electricity.” Emigrating to the U.S. at 10 years old, Ramirez would enjoy a stellar academic career, finishing high school at the tender age of 16 and becoming a star volleyball player while attending Montclair State University.
Upon graduation, Ramirez moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career and years later has racked up some pretty impressive credits. From television series like “Entourage,” “Heroes,” and “The Sopranos” to playing mutant baddie Callisto in X-Men: The Last Stand, this ambitious Latina beauty is out to conquer Hollywood on her own terms.
Ramirez takes a turn on comedic side in American Reunion, where she plays Selena, a sexy bartender who sets her sights on uber-nerd Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). The Urban Daily caught up with Ramirez to get the scoop on joining one of the most iconic movie franchises and her connection hip-hop icons Jay Z and Diddy.
What was it like being the new girl on the set with an established cast?
I’m a people person, so I like to walk into a new situation and find my way around. The way my character was written, it was easier because I was already in the script. My character Selena, was friends with Allyson Hannigan’s character in band camp. So we had that backstory to connect with. Everyone was really nice and there was lots of joking around.
In American Reunion Selena used to be a geeky band camp high school student turned hottie. What was your own high school experience like?
I started high school at 12 years old. I was still trying to figure out the language and coming from the Dominican Republic, you don’t know what’s cool or not in America. My first two years of high school were really just observing, trying to Americanize myself and fitting in. The last two years, I had it figured out and was friends with everyone—both the nerds and the jocks.
Did you go to your high school reunion?
Actually I didn’t. I started college at 16 and I was on my own because my parents didn’t support my decision to go into acting. I lost contact with a lot of my high school friends because I was busy fending for myself. When I finished college I moved to L.A., so I didn’t even know when my high school reunion took place.
I grew up in Washington Heights, so hip-hop has always been part of my life. I was 17 years old, living on my own when I did “Streets Is Watching” I grew up in a very small town in Dominican Republic that didn’t even have running water or electricity. Most people will want to be in music videos so they can get close to the artist, but for me it was more about being a fan of their work. I didn’t even think I could do acting as a living.
Why should audiences go see American Reunion?
If you want to laugh, see some good-looking chicks and fall in love with the characters from American Pie all over again.
American Pie opens in theaters nationwide April 6, 2012