Ivana De Maria is a true storyteller, and what stands out from her career is her most recent venture into app development for StoryPlace, an app created for the everyday user to write stories in any setting and share them with the world. Ivana shared with us her inspiration behind the app and about her experience as an actress working on making strides for social impact.
It takes a special kind of artist not only to understand their own craft, but also create ways to amplify their platform by creating spaces for their audience to make messaging of their own. Take for instance famed US Latin actress, Ivana de Maria, known for her role on the hit show “La bella y las bestias” on UNIVISION. She is an excellent actress but decided to expand her career to include producing as she has developed a series for HBO and even co-produced a project with the iconic, Salma Hayek for NETFLIX.
What was your inspiration behind StoryPlace?
As an actress and producer for TV and Film content, I started being especially intrigued by real-life stories. By taking these stories and bringing them to life, giving them the voice they needed to be heard. I have always looked to use my passion in a way that causes a positive impact in the world, and I decided I would do this by creating content based on true stories. Messages, stories, and voices that needed to be heard today.
As I was on a mission to find real stories, traveling, getting lost, and meeting people, I spoke to people from all around the world and found myself learning something new from everyone I met. Everyone’s story had a lesson for me in some way. This was a thought that kept keeping me up at night: “How many stories must go unheard in the world?”
I decided I would do something about it and create a safe space where these stories could live and transcend. Taking into account technology and generational trends, I decided to create a platform that would inspire people to connect through story-sharing, to realize the importance of sharing and listening to stories.
What did you have to learn about app technology that you perhaps didn’t know before? Was it difficult?
Everything. I realized that as much as I knew a lot about business and I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do, there was still so much I had to learn when it came to applying my knowledge into the intangible and abstract world of tech. It was definitely challenging, but I am always keen on learning new things. More than difficult, I would say learning experiences were costly, but I considered it my “tech school fee.” Since we are talking about intellectual property and virtual worlds, there are a lot of unknown factors that you face along the way, and that made me nervous many times, but I kept focusing on my vision!
How do you balance your acting and producing responsibilities with running an app and your activism?
I’m a believer in doing many things and not necessarily sticking to one path. I think that the essential element in doing so is organization and discipline. You can do many things but not all at once and not halfway. I divide my days and schedules in ways that allow me to focus only on ONE thing at a time. It also depends on what projects are going on sometimes I will be spending more time on one and sometimes on another, but I try to maintain balance and consistency. I understand that by doing many things, I limit my time available for each one, but I genuinely enjoy them all equally.
Speaking of activism, how are you using your platform to promote the social impact initiatives you’re most passionate about?
I believe that sharing stories plays a huge role in social responsibility, especially when it comes to promoting empathy. By sharing and listening to stories, we get close to putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. We open our minds and hearts to realizing that the world is full of stories and that regardless of our personal opinions, all stories are valid and human. Every week on StoryPlace, we release a different social responsibility topic, which raises awareness on a specific concept, cause, or situation by inviting users to share and read stories about that particular thing. One of the most significant ways to get people to understand something is by making it relatable, and story sharing does just that.
Your latest project, Monarca, will be debuting on NETFLIX and is a series you co-produced with Salma Hayek. What are the thematic elements of the series, and what was it like working with Salma?
Salma Hayek is a woman whom I admire greatly, as an actress, as a woman, as a Latina, and as a producer. Monarca is a great show that I have no doubts will set the bar high for Latin American television. I produced the part of the show that filmed in Los Angeles, and Lemon Studios produced the rest of the show which filmed in Mexico. The story talks about a wealthy family in Mexico who have a tequila empire. It touches on subject matters such as corruption, abuse of power, social classes, family issues, etc. It was an absolute honor, and I cannot wait to watch it and see people’s responses to it.
What is your favorite part of your career?
My favorite part is the fact that I find myself doing multiple, very different things, but still, everything I do shares a common denominator: storytelling. I like that I stopped trying to fit myself into a box or narrow down my interests into ONE job title. I love creating in every sense of the word. Whether it is a film or an app, I love watching something go from being an idea to becoming something alive.