San Juan-born, Florida raised actress Valery Ortiz is not only beautiful but a talented actress and upcoming children’s book author! Valery’s best known for roles on Switched At Birth, Hit The Floor, and playing Jell-O, a spoof on Jennifer Lopez in Date Movie.
Her latest role is on the Disney Channel’s new series, Gabby Duran and the Unsittables. Valery plays Dina Duran, the mother of Gabby (Kylie Cantrall). We got to check in with Valery and ask some questions about the new series as well as her upcoming bilingual children’s book series Hola! Hello!
Hi Valery! We’re excited to have you in StarShine Magazine. First, congratulations on your new Disney Channel series, Gabby Duran and the Unsittables. What can you tell us about the show and your character?
Thank you so much for having me! Aw yes, it’s been such a fun adventure so far! Dina Duran is Gabby’s caring and career-driven mother. The family moved to Havensburg from Miami because Dina got a new job as an on-air news reporter. She’s beyond excited to be part of the town’s Channel 6 news and that she even acquired her face on a mug in the process! Dina is a single mom but she hasn’t given up on her dreams and does what she can for her girls. I love that about her.
What’s the vibe like on the set of the show?
It’s pretty energetic! There’s so much going on and of course, our kiddos and Nathan, who plays Principal Swift, keep me laughing!
Is there a favorite scene of yours that you can tell us about?
I can’t give away any spoilers but let’s just say Dina turns a different color and Olivia gets in a lot of trouble! Haha! I can’t wait until you all see that episode.
There’s an old saying in show business never to work with kids and animals … What are your thoughts on that?
I’ve heard about the animals but I didn’t know about the kids! Haha! The experience on set was very different than I have ever experienced. I can’t deny that! The kids are balancing school and scenes and they can only be on set for so many hours so the AD’s are constantly chasing the clock. But regardless of that, our set was so much fun! Our cast, as you’ve seen, is incredibly talented and these young stars are just such hard workers. On top of that, we had such a hard-working crew. The cast is only made up of six of us so the energy and work ethic of our amazing crew sets the tone for a great season as well, if not more.
Speaking of kids, I want to hear about your children’s book series. Tell us everything!
Publishing my books has always been another dream of mine. The first book of my bilingual children’s book series called Hola! Hello! is, “Coqui”! It’s about a tiny tree frog that’s native to Puerto Rico. Coqui teaches our readers about the importance of being yourself while learning new words in Spanish. I met my illustrator Adrienne Lovette in high school and we’ve dreamt about making this a reality ever since!
Will you be writing any more books in the future?
Yes! The other two books in the Hola! Hello! series are, “Coqui in the City” and “Mi Familia”. Those are already written. Adrienne and I are currently sketching/working on those illustrations. I’ve written another story, also bilingual, entitled, “Sana! Sana!” that I wrote in memory of my grandmother, Mama Meche and niece Andi. I can’t wait to release that one as it’s a different vibe than my Coqui books and it is obviously dear to my heart.
Can you share any other upcoming film or TV projects with us?
We’re getting ready to leave for Vancouver again to start Season 2 of Gabby Duran and the Unsittables soon. In the meantime, I’m focused on the release of my book, “Coqui” on Amazon on December 5th!
If you could recreate any film or TV character, who would it be and why?
Wow! Tough question! I think I’d say Selena. I love that movie and I’ve always wanted to feel what it was like to sing/dance in front of thousands of people. Haha! Only way that will happen is faking it in a film so that’d be an unforgettable experience. Ooooh, I’d also LOVE to re-make Nicholas Sparks’, The Notebook.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do for fun and to unwind?
Anything fitness related! Give me a physical challenge like a marathon or triathlon or CrossFit any day to keep me happy and motivated outside of work. I am currently doing the CrossFit Open for the first time as my gym, or box as the vets say encouraged newbies to go for it. I’d like to give a shout out to Team Jameson at CrossFit Darkhorse! Haha! We can do it!
How can fans keep up with you and all of your work?
Sandy Lo is an author, blogger, journalist, and digital strategist. Her personal story is inspiring. Sandy started StarShine Magazine, an online publication in 2001, at the age of 18. She wrote her first novel in 2009, “Lost In You,” followed by the “Dream Catchers” Series. She was the first person ever to professionally interview Taylor Swift and has received personal endorsements for her books from members of boy bands Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees.