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Girl Meets World

Daniella Pineda readies for the role of a lifetime in summer blockbuster Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Daniella Pineda Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Joe Ferrucci

Where can you find Daniella Pineda in A-Town? “At the hot bar on Ponce in Whole Foods,” she says without missing a beat. “They used to have this chicken fried tofu that every single morning, no matter what I was shooting, I would go there and get it. They didn’t have it anywhere else.” 

 

“Not too long ago, I was broke and cleaning people’s toilets, and now I’m a LEGO,” wrote Daniella Pineda in a recent Instagram post. Talk about a pinch-me moment. The 31-year-old from Oakland, Calif.,—who’s no stranger to Atlanta, having filmed The Vampire Diaries and The Originals here—went from working odd-end jobs in between auditions to landing a major part opposite Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, out June 22. “Even becoming an actor was sort of a happy accident, so the fact that my past has progressed into this is just so unreal,” she says. “Throughout [filming], Chris would be like, ‘Whoa, you’re doing Jurassic World,’ and I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I know, and you’re Chris Pratt; this is really weird.’”

Pineda plays Zia Rodriguez, a paleo-veterinarian who’s passionate about the well-being of the dinosaurs remaining on the island after the theme park’s destruction. “What’s cool is that she gets to be a legitimate nerd and still be a badass at the same time,” says the actress. “She’s the apogee of a lot of events in the movie.” Not to mention one of the first Latina characters to appear in the iconic Hollywood franchise. “I hope that just by having someone like myself out in the spotlight that people feel represented because growing up I didn’t necessarily feel that way,” Pineda says. “It would be nice to have more Latina actors who don’t necessarily fit a particular mold. And I definitely don’t think I’m one of them—I never have been.”

With her quirky, lovable personality and versatile talent, it’s clear this is just the beginning for Pineda. “I hope that this gives me the platform and the opportunity to branch off and do things behind the camera, which is why I was interested in going into entertainment in the first place,” she says, citing Get Out director Jordan Peele as one of her biggest inspirations. “I love horror movies. I hope I can make my own horror movies someday. ... And I’d love to do a lot more comedy, if they’d have me. I’d love to be a leading lady.” @notdaniellapineda