The first steps in acting were taken in Portugal, but the great adventure was just beginning. Living in the U.S., today, Daniela Ruah has a successful career and is widely known to the international public for her role in the American series NCIS: Los Angeles. The Portuguese-American actress is the face of this edition of Turbilhão and tells us about her career, family and how she manages her time.
Since living in the United States of America in 2007, became known to the American public, fell in love, married, had two children… Right now, are there more things that link you to Portugal or the U.S.?
Countries don’t compete in my head or in my heart. I have a family connection to both places, since I grew up in Portugal and I have a very close family still in our country. On the other hand, I had my children and I’m building them in America so I also feel a great connection with North America. It is also a matter of survival; if we don’t adapt to the place where we live, we’d never be happy. I have too many positive and beautiful things that keep me connected to both countries so I can’t choose between one or the other.
In what ways are we really different from Americans?
It’s hard to compare the two nations. I say this because the U.S. has a population of 330 million people of whom most have foreign backgrounds, so it’s hard to talk about Americans as one entity and not as a mixture of cultural habits. However, American politics is very different from Portuguese and this influences the way one people think to another.
Do you usually share some of the Portuguese mores with your American friends?
Sometimes they think it’s funny to learn Portuguese words
If you could take a piece of Portugal to the U.S., what would you take?
What do you miss most about Portugal?
I miss the grilled sardines in the summer, our beaches, my childhood friends, my usual corners…
How do you manage the longing, this feeling so Portuguese?
Honestly, I’m used to the sense of longing, so it’s part of my normal state.
What Portuguese values makes a point of transmitting to your children?
The most important values don’t have a nationality. Integrity, kindness, compassion, respect for others, ambition, recognizing what is right or wrong, etc. Of course I transmit our culture to my children like the Portuguese language or an eclectic taste in the cookery.
The NCIS series: Los Angeles is a huge success. After it, would you like to stay on television or devote yourself more to cinema and/or theater?
I really like the three, so I don’t have a preference. The most important thing for me is to accept roles that fill me creatively and allow me to put food on the table. Everything has an end, so I appreciate any positive work that will come to my hands.
What other professional projects do you currently have in mind?
I’ve got some! But it’s too early to reveal them.
Can you tell us a little more about the mini-series The Spy?
The Spy is an eight-episode mini series directed by Jorge Paixão da Costa and produced by Ukbar Filmes, which will be broadcast on RTP1. The plot takes place in the 1940s during World War II and follows the history of spies from allied and nazi countries. Some act for greed, others by values, and others are double agents. Yet everyone has something in common: the struggle for survival.
What represent for you working in Portugal?
Participating in the series The Spy was particularly special because it was the first time in 12 years that I played a Portuguese character. In addition I was alongside Maria João Bastos, Diogo Morgado, Marco d’Almeida, João Capelo, among other actors and actresses I fell in love with and with whom I loved to work again. I also have to say that the technical team has snifted day and many nights!
Among the many roles you play on a daily basis, both in professional and personal life, how can you manage your time?
Time management has to do with prioritizing the most important thing. Fortunately, after 11 years in the same series, working hours already become predictable so I can plan personal life more easily. I’d like to do everything and be everywhere at the same time, but I can’t. That’s why I learned to delegate responsibility. We participate in the daily lives of our children as much as possible, at the times when we can’t, we have a baby sitter that helps us, and of course the frequent visits of grandparents!
How has motherhood come to give a new meaning to the definition of time in your life?
Time has its own character and it seems that it changes pace just to upset When I got pregnant, time didn’t seem to pass. I wanted to have a belly, to know what the birth would be like, to see the baby’s face… And it seemed like the day never came. Now that my babies are 5 and 3 the time has accelerated and I see traces of adolescence!
Do you live on a time trial or can you relish every moment?
I live both. There are days when you would need a 25th hour to deal with responsibilities and other ambitions… On the other hand, I often stop to recognize the good I have in my life; healthy children, a husband I love, a family that supports me unconditionally and works on what I love to do most.
Imagine you had the power to control time. Would you take a trip to the past or the future?
I’d take a trip to the past. I would return to the times when we all gathered at my grandparents’ house, before the weight of adult responsibility touched me, before the cousins spread around the world and moved away a little because of the natural change of priorities. I’d like to hear the noise that was made at the table again, taste a grandmother’s traditional cooking or sit on the other’s lap, doing crossword puzzles and failed knitting attempts. I’d like to go back to appreciate every moment that made me the woman and mother I am.
Photography: Miguel Ângelo, assisted by Virgílio Ferreira
Styling: Gabriela Pinheiro, assisted by Ana Catarina Rocha
Make Up: Joana Moreira, with Chanel products
Hair: Miguel Viana