By Reynaldo Mena
As a child, Daniela Ganoza would create her own scripts pretending to be a news anchor or reporter. Since the age of eight, it seemed like her destiny was already being written.
“In my family, there was always a concern for the news. We read the newspaper, we talked about what was happening. My parents always told me that I had to stay informed so I wouldn’t be the clueless one at the table,” says Daniela Ganoza, correspondent for Primer Impacto in Los Angeles.
Daniela’s job is a dream come true. She has interviewed the biggest stars in the entertainment world and has earned that privilege through her work.
“Yes, I interview the stars. They are the stars, not me,” says the journalist, showing that she keeps her feet firmly on the ground.
When she was a young girl living in Peru, her home country, she wanted to do commercials and start a career in that field. However, her father, being a musician, strongly forbade it.
“Anything but that,” she recalls him saying. Her father had witnessed the wild atmosphere that prevailed in that industry.
One of the people who influenced her from a young age to get where she is today was her mother. Being divorced and seeing Peru sinking into an economic crisis and limitless terrorist violence, her mother decided to emigrate to Florida at the age of 50.
“My mother started from scratch, yes, at the age of 50. She was well-prepared, spoke English, and was educated. No one handed her anything; she earned everything,” says Daniela.
Upon arriving in Florida to live with her mother, this journalist had in mind to study marine biology.
“Good thing I didn’t,” she recalls. “Otherwise, my skin would be all wrinkled.”
On the day of choosing her college major, she saw the word “Broadcast” on one of the lockers. She requested more information and decided to pursue that career, leaving behind her plans for marine biology.
She reflects and leaves open the possibility that it might have been destiny. As a child in her homeland, she remembers flipping through Cosmopolitan and Vanidades magazines, being impressed by the beautiful dresses and red carpets at ceremonies.
“Someday, I would like to be there,” she pondered.
Daniela remembers how difficult her high school years were. She was 5’8″ and overweight. Her classmates bullied her, and she had to endure it.
“Yes, I suffered. Now I see it as something natural, something that’s there. I acknowledge that bullying exists, but I also recognize that those who complain have also bullied other teenagers. It’s part of life; we must use it to make ourselves stronger. It’s part of our learning,” the journalist adds.
She remembers her time in school very positively, saying, “It was incredible.”
Upon graduating, she landed an internship position at Univision, which changed her life.
“That’s when I set new goals for myself and knew I wouldn’t rest until I achieved them. I could already envision myself working in Los Angeles, the number one Latino market in the country,” she adds.
One of the programs she attended at Univision was where one of the managers told her one day that she would never be on camera because she wasn’t Mexican and was too white.
“Nevertheless, that experience marked me for life. Seeing the enormous editing rooms, production facilities, and studios, it was a monster,” she says.
After briefly working at an independent channel, her mind was set on getting to Los Angeles, and she shared her plan with her mother.
“I need to go to Los Angeles; it’s something I have to do,” she reflects. “If I worked in Los Angeles, no one could tell me that I couldn’t be on camera because I’m not Mexican.”
Upon arriving in L.A., she spent some time at Telemundo, where she co-hosted the show Buena Onda. Shortly after, she learned that Maria Celeste Arrarás, who was covering a story at UCLA, was there.
“I already had a CD with my demo, and Maria Celeste recognized me when she saw me because I had been her intern. I approached her, greeted her, and said, ‘I want to work with you.’ The program Al Rojo Vivo was already being aired, and I knew they needed a correspondent. Two weeks later, her producer called me, and they hired me,” she says.
That’s when her career as an interviewer began, leading her to become one of the most well-known and famous journalists in the entertainment world.
Her first assignment was a junket for a movie with Jackie Chan.
“Yes, I was nervous. It was my first assignment, but since then, I’ve followed a plan that I still stick to today. I prepare as much as I can, I have a clear idea of what I’m going to ask, and that guarantees me doing a good job. You have to prepare yourself and take the plunge,” she adds with laughter, “I’ve also made a million mistakes.”
One of her successes as an interviewer is seeing Hollywood stars as human beings, not as beings from another planet.
“That’s how they are, they are human beings. You hear their conversations off-camera, and you realize they are just like us. That makes the interview easier for me. Many times, I don’t focus on the movie; I focus on them, on the human being. They humanize themselves,” she says.
What she doesn’t tolerate is the “star attitude,” the divas who consider themselves superior beings.
“People always ask me about Hollywood. I tell them that there isn’t just one Hollywood; there are many. There are actors with personality, divas, angry ones. Everyone has a different personality,” she says.
Daniela Ganoza always makes sure to maintain a distance in her interviews. She is not the star; the actors are the stars. She has to keep her place.
Being Latina took time for her to be taken seriously. In her early years, she was placed at the end of the line of journalists, and they only provided her access to second or third-tier people, simply because she spoke Spanish.
“All of that changed in the 2012 census. They realized that Latinos were the ones going to the movies, and they couldn’t ignore it. So they started including us in the best roles for interviews. But I have a rule: just because I’m Latina doesn’t mean I force them to speak Spanish. If they want to, great; if not, we do it in English. I don’t want us to be stereotyped. I’m not going to play the ‘clown’ speaking a certain way or doing my makeup a certain way. I don’t do that,” Daniela Ganoza says.
And she adds, “My parents always taught me humility, that’s why I don’t have to keep my feet on the ground because they’re already there. I don’t want to feel superior to others. I could, but it’s not part of who I am,” she says.
Daniela Ganoza is recognized in the community for her role in interviewing so many people. Many approach her and ask her about this actor or that, and she doesn’t mind that. She sees it as something natural. But there’s one thing she can’t stand: flattery.
“People come up to me and want to take a photo, which doesn’t bother me. What I don’t accept is when they later post it and claim that we’re friends. That doesn’t sit well with me,” she says.
Finally, I ask her opinion about corridos tumbados (a subgenre of Mexican music) and she is categorical.
“I don’t listen to corridos or reggaeton. Latin music has been kidnapped, hijacked. It’s sad that such violent, drug-laden, and misogynistic lyrics are so popular. However, good Latin music is still being produced. There is hope,” Daniela Ganoza concludes.