Dascha Polanco continues to pave the way for women in the entertainment industry. In addition to Adam Sandler‘s The Cobbler (in theaters today), the Latina star will be joining Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence in the upcoming David O’Russell film, Joy, while fan-favorite Orange Is the New Black returns this June.In honor of Women’s History Month, we spoke to this fearless actress about the women who inspire her, body image in Hollywood, and life as a working mom. Come for the empowering real talk, and stick around for her killer Daya-Bennett OITNB spinoff idea.
If you could be anyone for a day, like Sandler’s character in The Cobbler, who would you be?
Dascha Polanco: I think I would be a man. To be the opposite sex and see what it is to be like not having to squat when I use the bathroom, not having my period. [Laughs.]
In the film, your character isn’t happy with her relationship. What advice would you give to a woman who isn’t satisfied with her situation?
I think we always try to blame ourselves for a situation. We’re held responsible for our actions, but I think there’s a time where you have the decision to make yourself happy. Step out of a situation that’s not comfortable for you – only you can make that [happen]. If you’re unhappy, if you’re in danger – not that I’m saying it’s easy, because it’s a process – only you know when it’s right, when you can leave, or when you can decide to stop it.
Do not believe in the love of your significant other until you love yourself first #DearMe
— DASH (@SheIsDash) March 4, 2015
Which women in Hollywood inspire you?
I’m a fan of Meryl Streep. I think she’s super talented. I look up to Angelina Jolie as a philanthropist. I find that everything she said she’d do she has done, and there’s nothing like being true to your own self and accomplishing the goals that you set. You also have to look at Latinas like Eva Longoria — I think she’s amazing, what she stands by — and Selma Hayek. [They] use their sexiness, perceived as their Latin passion, to get the attention of Hollywood. Jennifer Lopez has used that to her advantage to become an entrepreneur. These are all women growing up I would look up to and gain inspiration from.
You are so proud of your curves. Do you get frustrated with a lack of curvy women in entertainment?
You always see the size zero, skinny significant other. I’ve seen a lot of movies and I rarely see the main chick as a woman with the curves. It’s not about having the curves, I think it’s deeper than that. I tweeted a quote the other day [about] my whole life, my appearance, and not looking like what was depicted and accepted. I realized that it’s not about how I look outside; it’s about how I feel about my differences inside, and how a difference can be so beautiful. There are women who are born with more volume than others, but that difference is what intrigues [others] and allows you to have uniqueness that you should use positively. It’s time for us to really evaluate [ourselves] in the mirror and say, “This is OK. I can too bring out any quality. I can too be on the cover of any magazine, just the way I am.”
ALL we WOMEN have a little of every goddess or identify with one more than the other…and that is precisely the KEY what you as a WOMAN believe and see yourself as.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? #SELFLOVE #WOMAN #CELEBRATEWOMEN #WESMELLGOOD #HAPPYINTERNATIONALWOMANSDAY #Internationalwomensday
Mila Kunis got some flack for her statement about not wanting to hire a nanny. What’s your take as a working mom in Hollywood?
Being a mother is a choice of providing what you want to provide for your child. I’m reading this book called The Five Love Languages and it teaches you how there’s different ways of portraying love. [Mila] has the ability to [not] hire a nanny and stay home, God bless her; that’s what she chooses to do. There are plenty of people who are financially well [off enough], get a nanny to continue their work, and still get criticized. As a mother, I put in my time with my kids, and right now I’m working. There are times where I feel like maybe I should get a nanny, maybe I shouldn’t. I have the right to make the decision I want to make with my kids. You can’t please society, you have to do what’s best for you. Some of us out there don’t have money but we choose to stay home and live off of welfare and support our kids off of food stamps, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but nobody’s complaining how you have to spend your income tax check or [spending] your welfare money on your beauty supplies instead of your child’s education. We all have a choice to do whatever we want.
Daya and her mom have a complicated relationship on OITNB. Who would you say is the best mom on the show?
I think the show depicts different moms. I don’t think one is better than the other. I think we need to understand why they react to situations differently. It shows truth, it shows how we all, regardless of experience or where we are in our lives, step into somebody else’s shoes and are able to understand the behavior and why they interact this way.
Watch Polanco’s OITNB stars impersonate their favorite characters.