I’m about 15 minutes early for my lunch date with Ana Conda, one of Hollywood’s brightest and most promising young stars. Amazonian traffic can be so unpredictable. After a three-day trek through impenetrable rainforest where I experienced multiple jaguar attacks and am now fighting a touch of malaria, I find myself in a charming little neighborhood café. I cozy up in a back booth, and decide to do a little people watching before Ana arrives.
I see an elegant snake slither in. She’s pretty, with a radiance that seems to light up the entire room. She’s wearing a cool, white cotton dress and no makeup. She slides up to my table.
“I’m glad I was early,” she smiles warmly. “How long have you been waiting?”
It’s uncommon to find Hollywood Starlets as down to earth and refreshing as Ana Conda. She seems to be on a first-name basis with everyone in the café; I almost feel as if I am intruding on a family reunion. When it comes time to order, Ana does something absolutely unheard of in the Hollywoodland of Juice Cleanses and Gluten Free: asks for the spaghetti and meatballs.
Though Ana is a strong contender for the coveted title of “America’s Sweetheart” her latest role is mired in controversy. On December 7th, The Discovery Channel will air “Eaten Alive,” a documentary that follows naturalist Paul Rosolie, as he attempts to have Ana Conda swallow him whole. Rosalie dons a custom built “snake-proof” suit, which is supposed to protect him from Ana’s gastric juices and will aide in his escape. Though the project is already being dubbed an obvious awards season contender, many critics are calling the it animal abuse, and argue that it vilifies the already misunderstood snake.
Ana digs into her carb parade, pausing occasionally to ask the waiter how his daughter is, or compliment the hostess on her vintage top. I feel somewhat superior as I went with a watercress salad. But what transpired between Ana and I over the next six hours was one of the most refreshing and down to earth interviews I’ve had in my fifteen years as a journalist
VF: So, what initially attracted you to this role?
AC: Well, when my agent first pitched me the offer, my reaction was absolutely not. But I’m a big fan of Discovery’s Planet Earth series, and thought OK, maybe I’ll take a look at the script. And I couldn’t put it down. I just had to be a part of this. Plus, I’d been taking some personal time last year and was really itching to get back to work.
VF: Do you feel that your work in this film qualifies as animal abuse?
AC: Whoa, tough questions right off the bat! Honestly though, I’m flattered there are so many people that care about me. It’s very humbling. But I am a professional, and (laughs) my stunt double is a professional too if you know what I mean.
VF: You don’t do you own stunts?
AC: Let’s just say that once you reach a certain level, the studio won’t even hear about stars doing their own stunts. I’d love to do my own stunts, really. I’d like to experience everything that my character is going through. The insurance costs go through the roof though. And that’s a little look at how the sausage is made I guess.
VF: You eat sausage? That’s so refreshing and down to earth.
AC: I know. Thank you.
VF: Some critics say that by taking this role, you’re helping to actually vilify snakes in the media.
AC: And to them I say, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There are ugly parts of all of us that we’d like to bury, but that’s simply not real. I’m not interested in anything that’s not real anymore, you know what I mean?
VF: That’s so refreshing and down to earth. Are you seeing anyone right now?
AC: No, I’ve been taking some time to focus on myself. I was always one of those girls who was NEVER single, and honestly, I think I was afraid to be single. But after John and I broke up (Ed. Note: Ana dated musician John Mayer on and off from 2011-2013) I really had to look at myself and it was like who ARE you Ana? And I think that reflection has been so refreshing and I feel even more down to earth than before.
VF: What about the rumors of an on-set romance developing between you and your costar Paul Rosolie?
AC: Any time you’re working that closely with someone, as an actor, you’re bound to develop an intimacy that other people don’t understand. But…we’re just friends.
VF: Are you a fan of Nicki Minaj?
AC: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?
VF: That’s such a…
AC: Down to earth and refreshing response? I know.
VF: I can’t go any longer without addressing this, your scales are absolutely radiant.
AC: (Laughs) Thank you.
VF: Can you describe you beauty routine for us peasants?
AC: When I’m not working, I don’t wear any makeup. I think its good to let your skin breath. I don’t use soap on my skin, instead I squeeze a little lemon onto a cotton ball and clean it with that. It works, I swear! But, if I’m heading out or it’s date night, I’m obsessed with Smashbox’s CC Cream, it photographs so well. And I’m definitely a bit of a mascara addict. And that’s it. I’ll do a bold lip here and there if I get bored. I actually do my own makeup for most of my appearances but that’s an entirely different ballgame.
VF: Really? You do all of your own makeup?
AC: If it’s a premiere of the Oscars, or any public appearance or if I’m just feeling fugly that day, obviously I’ll hire a makeup artist. But I grew up in the theater and learned plenty of tips and tricks.
VF: That’s so refreshing and down to earth of you.
AC: I know.
VF: You’re a really refreshing and down to earth kind of girl.
AC: Kind of snake. (Smiles)
For dessert, Ana stalks and kills a baby monkey sitting at the table next to us. Its monkey parents are more than happy to have their child provide nourishment for such a refreshing and down to earth movie star. Ana promises to send them her poop so that they may have a proper burial (and will even include an autograph for their other kids). A waiter whisks out to our table an organic, locally grown acai jam to spread on top of the baby monkey. It’s delicious, despite me not being able to keep much solid food down due to the malaria. I’m going to get so skinny.
Before we can finish, word has gotten out to the paparazzi that Ana Conda is here, and after a million apologies, Ana slips out through the back of the café undetected.
The owner of the café takes care of our tab. I take a look at my skin, which is growing yellow from the malaria. Perhaps I’ll try a little lemon juice. It seems really down to earth and refreshing.