Ana’s knowledge of popular culture beyond Cuba was limited. She would pop over to the neighbors’ apartments to watch Hollywood movies. Soon, Ana had every monologue and speech down pat.
When she turned 12, Ana decided she wanted to become an actress. In 2002, she successfully auditioned for a professional actors’ training program at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana. A 14-year-old Ana traveled all the way to Havana to attend the rigorous course, sometimes hitchhiking her way there.
Life in Grim Political Climates
Ana’s wistful childhood memories misrepresent the stark political climate of Cuba when she was growing up. At the time, Cuba was in the middle of the infamous “Special Period in a Time of Peace.” An economic period when the Cuban government introduced strict food and energy rationing to the public.
But Ana never felt that sharing food or wearing hand-me-downs was out of the ordinary. She credits her childhood and Cuba with giving her a grounded outlook that continues to serve her to this day.
Ana's Love for Television Began Early on
Things in Cuba were far from peachy. Ana grew up without cell phones, computers, or the internet. Even her entertainment options were limited to television only — but TV was all she needed.
A young Ana loved nothing more than plonking in front of the TV after homework and finishing her chores. She spent hours watching TV, swept away by the power of movies. She later told W magazine that she would think of her favorite scenes and re-enact them in front of the mirror. The entire process was very emotional for her.
She Risks Everything for an Acting Career
Ana took a big risk just a few months before submitting her final thesis. She left the school. That said, she had compelling reasons for upping and leaving. In Cuba, you first have to complete three years of mandatory service to the community after graduating.
Ana decided it would be detrimental to her career. She was determined to make it as an actor. Far from impulsive, leaving the program was a carefully calculated move.
Early TV Roles in Cuba
As a teenager, Ana landed a starring role in the romantic drama “Una rosa de Francia” (2006) opposite Álex González. The story goes that Ana got the part thanks to actor Jorge Perugorría, who first met her with his daughters at a birthday party. She made quite an impression, enough to earn the actor’s recommendation for a role. The director reportedly visited Ana’s school to tell her she had got the part.
Ana traveled to Spain to promote the film. During this period, she met Juan Lanja, who would eventually become her Spanish agent.