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Daniela Santiago: “There should be many more Irene Montero, she is the only one who defends trans people”

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Daniela Santiago (Málaga, 1982) caresses Nala’s head with her carmine-colored acrylic nails. She does not part with her Pomeranian, who welcomes each new guest who steps into the room with some enthusiasm. She is one more in the interview, although later she falls asleep between question and answer. She tries to think that she is tired of listening to the cascade of questions that her owner has received during the day. “And what we have left! We will be here until 9 p.m.,” says the actress after feeling the fatigue of her pet.

A psychic named Roser predicted that Santiago would reach the peak of his life after the age of 30. Almost touching 40. A rebirth of those who live twice. She wasn’t wrong. Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi – baptized as Los Javis – called her to play Cristina Ortiz, ‘La Veneno’, and her life metamorphosed into a maelstrom of cameras and public recognition. Although she considers that the character with which she has achieved fame does not represent her,“we are two opposite poles”She says, she does not hesitate to be grateful for everything that the star has brought into her life.

The woman from Malaga has anecdotes to fill several biographical volumes. She was the adopted daughter of drag queen Carmen Xtravaganza – an icon of New York culture ballroom, a pioneering movement of the Latin and African-American LGTBI collective of the 80s. He named her Dana Xtravaganza. Like the queen passing the scepter to the next monarch. Drugs, sex and falling into the pit of the deep night industry, for a subsequent transformation that has turned her into the woman she is.

Two years after the series premiere PoisonDaniela presents My little world (Libros Cúpula), a tribute to his uncle Pepe, his mother, Málaga and also the Madrid that, at 18 years old, was able to teach him that life always has an ace up its sleeve… and not always for a play noble.

With her partner Isabel Torres in memory after her recent death due to lung cancer, she claims: “Many books like mine and by many women like me are missing.”

Daniela Santiago.

David Gallardo

Ask.- With My little worldHow do you want to present yourself to the world?

Answer.- I wanted to tell everything. She wanted to undress me. By making a series as powerful as that of Poison Every time they see me they tell me that we are the same person. I felt that my audience deserved to know Daniela, her origins, her family, to see that not all lives are difficult, even if she has had harsher stages than others. Not all endings have to be ugly, that’s why it was very important to separate myself from Cristina.

Q.- You claim to have nothing to do with ‘La Veneno’.

A.- When a role is so strong and iconic, it’s normal to be pigeonholed. I am an actress who interprets, but because I am trans I don’t have to be ‘La Veneno’. The awards we have won are not for her. She was a reference, yes, but she didn’t represent me that much. We are polar opposites. When I had to embody it, I ate it with potatoes, I slept and woke up with it, and I will be eternally grateful, I will say it until the day I die, but there comes a time when it is time to detach myself from the role. It’s just that she’s tiring. You understand me don’t you? she (she laughs). Your dead, I am neither Cristina nor ‘La Veneno’, I am Daniela! her (she points jokingly). I am an actress and if tomorrow they tell me that I have to play Juana la Loca, I’m going to give you the craziest Juana la Loca of all.

It was very hard because it was a character with which I did not feel identified. I have always had a very low profile, but when they characterize us we are two drops of water. I got a nodule in my throat from straining my voice so much to reach his tone and way of speaking. When playing such a powerful character there comes a moment when Daniela disappears.

Q.- Is there any important detail of your career that is left out?

A.- A woman always has to keep something to herself because otherwise it would be very boring and she would lose the mystery.

Q.- What would have happened to Daniela Santiago without such an understanding family?

A.- Something completely different. The family I have has given me wings to believe in myself, to be happy, to grow up, to feel supported. When I have not felt understood by society I have always had the support of my people, who have sustained me. Without them, Daniela would be very empty.

“When I played ‘La Veneno’ I ate it with potatoes, but there comes a time when it is time to separate myself from the role”

Q.- You demand greater inclusion of the trans community in society, which is often relegated to work related to nightlife and entertainment and in which, you say, there is 80% unemployment.

A.- I think progress is being made. In fact, I have a trans daughter who is working in a restaurant and as a telemarketer. Before, when they saw us in the ugly duckling stage, they closed the door in our faces. I feel that that is changing, but we have to continue working, there has to be a political party that really supports us and gives us strength. I want to fight so that trans people without a spectacular physique have the opportunity to have a decent life, Social Security, the right to unemployment if they get sick, pay, vacations… a life. That you have to be forced to prostitute yourself and that they make you feel like a third class cannot be allowed as a society.

Q.- Many times you are required to be a reference for the group for the simple fact of being in the public eye. Would you prefer not to have that role?

A.- I would love to be Daniela Santiago, period. So. Without having to claim anything, but I am aware that it is up to me, it is up to us, to do it, because those who were there before have not done it. Are we going to turn our backs on hundreds of trans sisters and boys and girls if they don’t have people like us fighting for our rights? I would like to be Daniela Santiago and not have to fight for anything, but there is a lot to do and the laws that have not yet been approved.

Q.- Irene Montero’s trans law has generated a lot of controversy and has been one of the causes of the fracture of the past 8-M and also of the feminist movement.

A.- TERFs (trans-exclusionary feminist)? I think they want to make noise for no reason. Why do you, as a woman, have to judge me when I am simply trying to survive and fight for my rights? Not only because of trans rights, but also because of the machismo that we suffer. What do you know about what we are going through? Don’t we have enough to fight with our physique, with the obstacles that society places on us, and not with that now a group of women also wants to make us miss? I don’t understand. I sincerely think that we would gain much more together.

“The TERFs? I think they want to make noise for no reason. I don’t like including women here. I think a woman doesn’t trip you up because she doesn’t see you as a rival.”

Q.- Does it hurt to see that some women also prevent you from moving forward?

A.- I don’t like to include women here. I think a woman doesn’t trip you up because she doesn’t see you as a rival. My mother is a woman, my sister is a woman, I have friends who are women like me and they don’t trip me up, on the contrary, they make my life easier. For me that is being a woman, everything else is people who want to harm with the word feminism. They are a minority, even though they make a lot of noise.

Q.- You say that no political party represents you, but that the only minister you respect is Irene Montero.

A.- Irene asks me to participate in the 8-M (2021) with Pedro Sánchez to read a speech, no minister has ever done that in Spain. I thought it was wonderful, an act of total inclusion. She is the only person who is defending trans rights, she is the only minister who is sweeping for our collective and she deserves all my respect. There should be many more Irene Monteros. I love her and I will always say it, because she behaves very well with us.

Q.- Do you think that, by being in the social focus, the inclusion of the group can become an oasis and not a real case of inclusion?

A.- I think there will be everything. I would like to believe that no, that they are truly realizing the fight that we have been fighting for decades, not only here in Spain. Yes, it is true that thanks to Poison There are many more people who empathize with us, but there will also be others who take advantage of the moment to become modern. As long as it’s enough to join, it will seem wonderful to me.

“I had to leave one of my boyfriends because his mother saw Satan at his table when she found out he was trans”

Q.- Before you tried to hide the ‘trans’ label in your relationships, but then you regretted not telling it.

A.- Now they know it directly, I have lifted that weight off my shoulders (laughs). It’s true that she used to keep a low profile when she was younger, prettier and more of a girl. Those of us who went unnoticed wanted to be much more, to simply be pretty girls. She kept me quiet and if I saw that the relationship was more serious I would gamble. Either she accepted me, or she kicked me, because not everyone was ready to hear that I was meeting a trans girl. Now everything is very modern, it wasn’t like that before. I had to leave one of my boyfriends because her mother saw Satan at her table and from being a wonderful mother-in-law for a year she became a daughter of the biggest whore. That was an embarrassment, you leave very humiliated, with reinforced insecurity and wanting to hide. The only way to free him was to hurt him, to leave him. Today I wouldn’t have done it, I would have continued with a pair of ovaries and the mother would have been screwed.

Q.- I imagine it was difficult to deal with the whirlwind that it generated Poison From overnight.

A.- We freak out. On Instagram I started to see that RuPaul, Michelle Visage, the actresses from the series, were following me. Pose, Indya Moore, MJ Rodríguez. But what is this? Then I understood it. Just like when I saw Pose, which was the first trans series that came out, seemed wonderful to me, for them to see a Spanish series with a story as powerful as that of Cristina Ortiz was just as striking. The recognition that the series received in the American media was also a huge surprise. Crazy, darling. This has been, and continues to be, a continuing surprise.

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