Making her move from Mexico City to Los Angeles in 2009, actress Diana Garcia had already experienced some success in the movie industry when she was cast in the lead role of “Drama/Mex,” an independent film chosen to screen at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. Since then, she has continued to work on building her career with bit roles in films like the 2007 crime drama “The Air I Breathe” and the 2009 drama “Sin Nombre.” In the film “What Maisie Knew,” Garcia, 31, cameos as a character named Cecelia, a hotel bar employee entrusted to take a little girl (Onata Aprile) home for the night when she is mistakenly left behind by her mother (Julianne Moore), who is going through a divorce. The film also stars Alexander Skarsgard and Steve Coogan.
“What Maisie Knew” was released on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 13.
What did you think of “What Maisie Knew” when you saw it?
I thought it was great. It gives a great message to couples who are not in good situations and are getting divorced. The film shows how divorce can really affect the kids. They know what is going on. Adults try to hide stuff, but I think kids are always aware. You have to be smart in how you deal with your relationships, so your kids aren’t affected. I think the directors did a wonderful job. I’m very proud to have a cameo in the film.
Was moving to L.A. a big culture shock for you?
It was! I only started feeling like a normal person last October. I didn’t think about the challenges I would have coming from another culture. Putting together your daily routine was complicated. I’m just talking about the little things like putting gas in your own car. In Mexico, we have people who do that. There is a calm lifestyle in the U.S. I had to get used to. In Mexico, we’re celebrating all the time. Also, the [film] business is so different. It was a struggle to learn how to fit in, but I’m getting used to it now.
Did you study acting?
Acting came natural to me. I studied communications in Monterrey. After graduating, I moved to Mexico City and started booking a bunch of commercials. I used to model in Monterrey. I also modeled in Miami and New York when I was 16. Not that I liked it, but I thought it was an easy way to make money and travel around the world. I went to find an agency that could send me to Europe or Asia. I wanted to explore.
So, modeling led to acting?
Yeah, they recommended me for a movie, which I booked. It was my first movie. Six months after, we were in Cannes. It was a film called “Drama/Mex” by director Gerardo Naranjo, who is now putting together a big American movie (the remake of “Death Wish”). He gave me a big opportunity since I wasn’t an actress to be a part of the project. The next thing I knew, I had booked like five moves the next year. One of them was “Sin Nombre,” which opened so many doors for me. We went to Sundance and the film got a lot of attention. That’s where [producer] Amy Kaufman knew me from. She recommended me for “What Maisie Knew.”
What do you want from this career? You’re a beautiful Latina actress. Do you worry casting directors might pigeonhole you into playing the stereotypical hot Latina girl? Are you open to that since you’re just starting out?
Well, so far I’m glad people have seen more than whatever God gave me [physically]. I’ve never relied on just how I look. If that was the case, I would just be a model. I know I can do so much more. I have a spirit. I work to be a better person. That’s what matters. If [beauty] can be reflected in my profession, that’s pretty amazing. I’ve also been drawing and doing murals, so that’s something I’m very excited about. If you go to dianagarcia.org and go to the link that says “Artist” it’ll take you to my artwork. I love acting and drawing, so as long as I’m doing it and adding something to the world, then hopefully I can continue to grow from it.
What would be your dream role?
If they were doing the Mexican version of “Amelie” or “Run Lola Run,” I would love to do that.