New Jersey Monthly: Your Facebook bio describes you as a “Jersey Girl.” Why is that important?
Daisy Fuentes: I’m made and shaped by many things in my life. But much of my street smarts, wit, sarcasm, sense of humor and loyalty I learned in Jersey—from the way I talk to the passion I feel.
NJM: What do you cherish about growing up in New Jersey?
DF: It was great to see my parents work hard to better themselves and give my sister and me a good life. I loved the holidays, celebrated snow days when school closed, and we lived for summer breaks. When I was little we all met at someone’s house or played outside until sundown. In high school, summers down the Shore were epic.
NJM: At age 27, you became the first Latina veejay on MTV. Did you feel like a pioneer?
DF: I was just living in the moment, enjoying every second, not knowing how long it would last. There was no blueprint. There weren’t any Latinas on TV. Imagine a world before any of the Latin superstars of today. No J-Lo, no Ricky Martin, no Salma Hayek, no Penelope Cruz, no Selena Gomez, no Shakira. The word crossover didn’t exist. I didn’t realize I was one of the first to do so until journalists started bringing it up.
NJM: Did you envision such a multi-faceted career?
DF: I never had any clear plans or ambitions. I was simply working, learning and navigating my way through a tough industry for women. Even more for a Hispanic woman. But I never had time to stop and see that as a problem. I just thought I had another culture and language to offer. There were some opportunities I turned down and some I ran with. It just had to feel authentic.
NJM: What drives your advocacy for animal rights?
DF: I’ve always loved animals. The more I learned about animal agriculture, the more helpless I felt. But I realized that change starts with me. I became vegan a few years ago. With social media I have a platform and I share many things, including my passion for protecting animals from neglect and abuse, helping the environment, and for improving our health…. I try to be a voice for the voiceless.
NJM: Are there sufficient acting roles for Latinas?
DF: I don’t consider myself an actress. But no I don’t think there are enough opportunities for minorities in the entertainment industry.
NJM:What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
DF: Working on myself. Acknowledging and changing behaviors that don’t serve me. Questioning everything I’d been taught to believe and realizing some things are lies and some things I disagree with. I’m on a constant search for truth. I have a desire to learn about everything, I’m curious about life and I’m always evolving.
NJM: Do you ever get back to Jersey?
DF: I was there about a year ago. I took a photo in front of my old house with my new husband [singer Richard Marx] and dropped in at a local bar for a drink.
NJM: When you meet other people from Jersey, is there an instant kinship?
DF: Yes! I feel like maybe we know something others don’t.