Mercedes De La Cruz is a Canadian actress, best known for her memorable and charismatic performances in more than two dozen television shows and independent films. As a model, De La Cruz has graced the cover of ALEPH Magazine, was Former Miss Hawaiian Tropic, Poster Girl Molson Canadian and notably secured a highly visible contract for The Brick before Cindy Crawford took the campaign over. After a successful modeling career, De La Cruz made the transition to a versatile supporting actor, lauded as a “great actress” by the likes of Academy Award nominee Sally Kirkland. For her role as Carla, a savvy pregnant prostitute, in Ramshackle Blues, De La Cruz was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 2019 Vancouver Badass Film Festival. De La Cruz has had a busy 2021: she recently wrapped filming The Machine for Legendary Pictures, the co-lead in the feature Because You’re Dead To Me, and a co-starring role on the Netflix series Maid.

Here at BELLO, we had the pleasure of getting to know the beautiful actress a little more…

Share with us what your experience has been like filming in Serbia. How do you prepare a shoot abroad? 

MERCEDES: There was one thing that I did very differently to prepare to shoot abroad that I would have never guessed. I had already been going back and forth between Canada and Serbia for quite some time. My boyfriend Mario Milanovic is Serbian/Canadian: we have a home together in Belgrade and I travel between there and Canada to film projects. When I auditioned for ‘The Machine’ they assumed that I was a Serbian resident and therefore wanted to hire me as a local therefore I needed to get my residency permit! We hired a lawyer, got all the papers in order and I actually obtained Serbian Residency based on common law marriage! Up until a handful of years ago I didn’t know much about Serbia, and now I’m a resident…what a trip!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was going to film in Serbia, but it was nothing but wonderful. There was such a diverse cast from all over the world because they had such a large reach for their talent. There were people from Canada, the US, and all over Europe. The amount of languages that I heard being spoken was incredible, and many of the production teams were speaking four or five languages seamlessly! From what I could see all the departments ran very smoothly just as it does out west, really the only difference that I saw was the food choices offers and that the language the crew was speaking was mostly Serbian. Being in Europe also brought one other difference, and that was the number of smokers on set. That is to be expected since many of the countries in Europe are among some of the highest population of smokers in the world. In Serbia there are still smoking sections in almost all restaurants and cafes.

Growing up, what are some things that, looking back on now, make you realize acting would be your career? 

MERCEDES: Actually from the moment I could remember I was performing. I started dancing with Leckys School of Dance at the age of three in Edmonton, Canada. I loved the rush of performing our recitals in front of large crowds even at that age. Also as a child when my parents would have dinner parties or merely have family over, I would round up the other children and either put on a play, choreograph a dance routine or put on a fashion show which of course I would participate in as well. I would put together the wardrobe, makeup, and music and then have us perform our creation after dinner.  I did this for years. Anytime there was an audience I was eager to entertain!
What role did film and television play in your childhood? 
MERCEDES: My parents worked a lot when I was growing up which I loved because I was excited about TV watching after school. My favorite show “Degrassi Junior High” which follows the exploits of Canadian youngsters in the late 1980s. The first soap opera for kids, “Degrassi Junior High” doesn’t sugarcoat the problems facing Canadian (or American) youth. It focuses on such formerly taboo topics as alcoholism, interracial relationships, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and homosexuality. I really feel like that show prepared me for a lot in life. The Oprah Winfrey show was another one that I liked to watch as and I think that prepared me for mature real life topics as well.
During my impressionable years sitcoms were all the rage, I loved watching TGIF!  Full House, The Fresh Prince of Bell Air, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers and Blossom were my absolute favorites. I am a very enthusiastic, energetic person by nature and would love to work on a sitcom. I’ve also had a big interest in spy shows and absolutely loved ‘Get Smart’ with Don Adams and Barbra Feldon which I found really lightened the tone of life.
What do you look for in a role? Favorite one so far? 
MERCEDES: Right now I’d love to find something where I would have the privilege to transform my physical self to play the role. I would love to wear prosthetics of some kind and play a person that looks completely different from the way I look. I love the transformation of Nicole Kidman in Hours with the prosthetic nose, or Charlize Theron in Monster with the fake teeth and weight gain.  I’d also love to lose weight and tell a story of the struggles of suffering from an eating disorder, I feel like that is so needed in this day and age. 

My favourite role so far has been the independent feature film ‘Because You’re Dead to Me’. The entire movie is shot primarily in one room with two people, myself and my co-lead Gardiner Millar. A crooked lawyer wakes up in a strange hotel room, unable to recall how he got there. All he knows is that he’s been there before. At midnight a strange visitor arrives. The premise of the film is mystery and has many unique ideas about life, death and creating your own reality. Because the movie was originally written as a play and is merely myself and Gardiner talking, I think we had nearly 70 pages each of dialogue to prepare. That’s almost unheard of for film! Memorizing lines is not a challenge for me typically, but this was definitely more than I was used to. I had all my dialogue ready before we even started shooting which made it smooth and allowed us to get thought so many more scenes each day which was needed because of our tight location window. The movie is now being submitted to film festivals.


How have each of your projects shaped who you are today as an actress an individual?
MERCEDES: I have thought about this a lot. I find that typically whatever role I am doing at that time reflects a part of my life that I’m currently going through. It may not be the same circumstance, but there is some sort of commonality to it. I have found that I have gotten great insight into my own life, my limitations, and my beliefs through each of my roles. I have always felt that acting has been an incredible vessel for my healing, integration, and leveling up as a human. I see so clearly the mirror effect and the oneness that binds us all that I develop more compassion for myself and others through it. I also see every role as new training. Each time I take on a project it propels me further forward with my skills and craft. There are always new challenges, new great people to learn from, and new areas to explore within myself.
Who are you when you aren’t working? 

MERCEDES: When I’m not working I love to travel. My partner and I spend a big chunk of the year traveling around exploring other lands and cultures. We are total sun seekers that love the beach and water so we typically spend the winters in South East Asia or other tropical places. We have two furry kids, a 4lb Yorkie Chihuahua named Lucy Lou and a 14lb American Eskimo poodle named Bentley that are a big part of our life. We spend a lot of time with them walking in the park, lounging at cafes and cuddling at home. Lucy has just gotten a new over the shoulder carrier that allows her to come for motorcycle rides with us, her little head pokes out and is the cutes thing!

My family is really important to me. We have never been big phone talkers but, even though we don’t chat all the time we know how much we mean to one another. My mom and I are getting better however and now message almost everyday. Dad and I still chat less frequently, but when we do it’s so super meaningful and fun.  My incredible father Larry O’Hara is not my biological dad, he came together with my mom when I was only a few months old and later on adopted me. That whole side of my dads family took me in just like one of their own. I have never felt like an outsider or different, I’ve always just felt like one of the pack. I even had cousins that didn’t realize I wasn’t blood until a few years back. My younger sister Mallery and I are 12 years apart, we are technically half sisters but I never thought of her in that way either. I actually even gave her her name when she was born! She’s my Sissy Wissy Kissy and I love her to bits. My family and I are all scattered geographically but we are still very close. We may not talk or see each other often but when we do, even with my extended family we hug and kiss and tell each other “I love you” any time we can.

I grew up as a dancer so I love being active and moving my body. I enjoy working out, lifting weights, doing yoga, biking, hiking, beaching it, and really any outdoor activity. When I’m in Canada I love working out with my best friend David Munster. We have been training together for years, we have so much fun at the gym and keep each other accountable and motivated.  My friends, or what I like to call my “chosen family,” are very important to me as well. I honestly have the most amazing people in my life. We support each other, want the best for one another, and are very selfless when it comes to helping any way we can. Again I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like to, but when we do it’s like no time has passed! My spiritual practice is also a huge part of my life. Daily meditation, changing old patterns and beliefs, and looking for beauty and fun in the present moment is my ongoing goal. I also do energy healing and love helping people reach their next level of living.

Tell us about a time your beliefs were challenged. What did you learn? How did you face this?

MERCEDES: My beliefs are challenged all the time. As human beings, we have beliefs, imprints, patterns, points of view and all sorts of trauma that stem typically from childhood. A lot of points of view and imprints are learned from our parents, which were learned from their parents and so on. Many of these points of view are or paradigms are old and limit our freedom. My aim is to question these points of view and allow something new that serves me better.

For example:

“work has to be hard to pay off”

“Be independent, don’t ask for help”

“Life is hard, you need to plan and worry about your future to succeed”

I used to work myself into the grave and have very split energy working multiple jobs at one time. I was never focused on the one thing I really wanted, out of fear that I wouldn’t have enough if I didn’t hard work at multiple streams of income. I also didn’t want to accept help from others, I thought that it showed how strong and independent I was if I did it all myself. The hardest thing to let go of was the fear of the future and letting go of control. I was worried that if I didn’t try to sort it all out myself, that it wouldn’t work out. After years of inner work and questioning all of my beliefs, my life is a completely different beautiful reality. I am now in the understanding that “Everything is always working out for me.” By surrendering control, being grateful for what I currently have, spreading joy and doing what I love seems to be the key to getting everything I desire. I also now see that God works through everyone and by asking for help and allowing others to give it I am actually stronger. It’s not always an easy thing to just trust in the universe and not worry about the future, but I have so much evidence that when I do; everything flows, things work out better than I could have come up with myself and everything always works out for me in the end. Because of this new understanding I have now given all my possessions away, relocated to Europe for the time being, made acting my main focus and decided to let it take me wherever in the world it shows up. I have no real expectations for the future accept that I know it is all going to be amazing.

If you could star in any movie with any director, which would it be and why? 

MERCEDES: My fascination for spy shows when I was a young girl ignited a spark for me wanting to be a Bond Girl. I loved the idea of the action, mystery, allure, and strength those women possesses in that series. Plus I loved the sexy outfits. That being said, it’s my all-time key role. I truly just want to work with incredible people, push my barriers and make good movies. I would love to work with Quentin Tarantino. His movie-making was a pivoting point for my deep interest in filmmaking when I was just 13 years old! Reservoir Dogs changed my idea of how storied could be told. Paul Thomas Anderson is another incredibly talents director. He does many different kinds of projects in a vast variety of genres and does them so incredibly well. Magnolia was a groundbreaking movie for me. Clint Eastwood is an phenomenal actor and director. With all his years experience I believe he would have such deep insight and would be amazing to learn from. Greta Gerwig really interests me as well. Being an actress herself and then the work that she did in both Lady Bird and Little Women put her near the top of my list. Ever since I saw Monster in 2003 I’ve wanted to work with Patty Jenkins. The performances she got out of both Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci where very memorable for me. Kathryn Bigelow is another fantastic director that I’d love to work with. She is the first woman to be given a directing Oscar and is phenomenal at getting great deep performances out of her actors.

What comes next?
MERCEDES: Because I now live primarily out of a suitcase and have no real responsibilities holding me down to one location, I’m excited to see where in the world acting will take me. I am represented in Canada by Melisse Kelly at Cue Management and in Europe by Tijana Popovic at Slavic Artist Management, I am now looking for someone in Los Angeles to add to the team. I have always wanted to star in a Hollywood movie. This year I was fortunate enough to be cast in the Legendary Pictures feature film ‘The Machine’ that was actually filmed out here in Serbia. Now Its a dream of mine to film a Hollywood movie in Hollywood! I have always wanted to direct, so that will definitely be something that I pursue in the near future. Also, during the pandemic I started writing a feature film. I have put that on hold as of late, but when the time feels right I will pick it back up and finish it.
Brandon Elliot – Photographer 
Eleni Tsapas – fashion stylist
Karina Morin – assistant stylist 
Zahra Dee – hair/makeup artist
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