Cristela Alonzo has become known over the years for her stand-up comedy, making appearances on shows such as Last Comic Standing, Live at Gotham, and Conan. She was named one of the 10 L.A. Comedy Acts to Watch by LA Weekly and went on to write and produce her pilot presentation, Cristela, before it got picked up by ABC. Now she is lending her voice to character, Cruz Ramirez, in Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3.

Screen Rant got a chance to sit down with Cristela on press day, where we discussed how they created Cruz Ramirez, what it was like to work with Pixar and Disney, and what were some things that Cristela brought into Cruz that wasn’t originally on the page.

First of all, I want to say congratulations on the film. It was so much fun.

Cristela Alonzo: Oh, thank you!

So much fun. It seems the character Cruz, even though it’s an animated car, still emotes this sense of diversity in many ways. So, how was it creating that character and what was it like to work with Pixar and Disney?

Cristela Alonzo: Actually, I love that you brought up the word ‘diversity’ because that’s something that I thought a lot about with this movie. We talk so much about diversity right now in Hollywood and how we can get more of it, how to be more inclusive, and you know a lot of times when we talk about diversity, we are very critical. But I also think you also have to give credit where credit is due. I think that Pixar did a fantastic job with this character and, honestly, working with them on this film has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done professionally because they listen to me and they respected my opinion and it’s, that thing where, you know, they would ask me to collaborate on the character and you just really felt that you were being heard. And, when we talk about diversity, it’s just so nice to be able to have that opportunity because you have to spotlight the companies that are trying to do it right. You know, and just do it in a genuine way because we have to show people that are up and coming, kids that want to do this, that there are companies that are trying hard to do it. And it’ll take awhile because, it’s obviously it has taken us awhile to get us here, but, you know, I’m just glad that the effort is being made by Pixar.

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You know, it was so natural how the story progressed in order for Cruz to become that shining star. It’s not even something that I technically expected. It was like, “Yeah. That totally makes sense.”

Cristela Alonzo: It’s interesting how, you know, that story, you really get to reset thoughts I think and perceptions in people because we don’t talk about her name being Cruz Ramirez. We don’t talk about her being a woman. We actually talk about how good she is.

Which, I love…

Cristela Alonzo: I know! Because it’s so simple that you think about it and are like, “Ah. That’s right. We don’t have to talk about how she’s a woman. We don’t have to talk about her being Latina. We actually have to talk about how good she is.” And that is a great lesson for kids. You have to teach that it’s not a boy/girl thing. It’s about who’s the best at the job.

Absolutely! And I love that aspect of it. So, you were talking about how you were collaborating with Disney and Pixar and how they listened to you. What were some of the things that weren’t necessarily on the page for Cruz that you brought to the role?

Cristela Alonzo: You know, actually, halfway through the production John Lasseter came to the booth to say hi. We hadn’t met before.

He is a legend by the way.

Cristela Alonzo: The legend. You know, I thanked him for allowing me to be a part of this world because I’m very grateful to have this opportunity and I believe that, if you are grateful, you should let people know because that’s part of the excitement. I think it makes people excited that you are excited. So, I started talking about my childhood and just about challenges I had in this business being a woman of color and struggling and just trying to figure everything out because this job doesn’t have directions. You have to figure it out on your own and sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes you don’t. And the thing that really stood out to Lasseter is being strong, but having doubts and being vulnerable and that is something that is so relatable, especially for adults. This is a movie that kids can see and that adults can get something out of it.

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[points to self] Me!

Cristela Alonzo: [laughs]

Exactly! Right here! I went through every spectrum of emotion in this movie! I couldn’t believe it!

Cristela Alonzo: And it’s crazy because, you know, we are so quick to assume that if it’s an animated movie, it’s just for kids. But what Pixar does so well, they make great movies and they just happen to be animated. And any good movie has a good story. Any great movie has a heart to it and that’s what they do so well.

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