TV Host Daisy Fuentes is a Jersey Girl Through and Through

The Harrison native and entrepreneur talks about Latin representation, her animal rights advocacy and the instant kinship she feels with New Jerseyans.

Photo courtesy of Shelter Entertainment.

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.

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