Folks We Love with Daniela Ruah, actor
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here.
I was born in Boston to Portuguese parents and when I was 5 they returned to Portugal. I grew up there and at 16 was cast in the first of many ‘telenovelas’, which made me fall in love with acting and working looong hours. The work prompted me to study performing arts in college, in London. I then moved to NYC to study acting and soon after landed work in Los Angeles. I’ve been here ever since… This is where I met my hubby and eventually started my wonderful family. It’s been a fun ride- every life shift has brought wonderful things, I love change.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
River almost 3
Sierra 2 months
How did you choose your kids names?
I’ve always loved biblical names so I knew my kids would probably have one. Dave, on the other hand wanted something a little less conventional… So we agreed that their second name would be more traditional. We also planned on including my maiden name as one of their middle names (in Portugal we keep our mother’s name). We never really sat down and discussed our choices; we just kept adding names to our list as they resonated with us, no matter how crazy or simple they may have been. We thought we had plenty of time to think about it, but when both kids showed up at 37 weeks, they each ended up nameless for 2 days! On the way to the hospital with my first pregnancy, we narrowed down our choices to 3 combinations, and when we saw our little boys face we knew River Isaac was perfect for him.
For our daughter, I knew Esther would be her second name- after my grandmother. So we spent most of the pregnancy finding something that would work with that. David suggested ‘Sierra’ the day she was born, which wasn’t even on our list. And so, Sierra Esther was named.
Los Angeles, California
Actress and professional daughter, mom and wife.
What’s on your manifest board?
I want to do more with my life, take better advantage of what is available to me. Sometimes I feel like I miss out on opportunities because I procrastinate. I have a list of projects and business ideas that I really want to crack down on.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Everyone cooking a meal in the kitchen, our friends and family coming over to workout- kids are running around in the back yard, music is playing, mamas nursing the younger ones. Building a tree house, road trips, a day at the beach…
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
I was in the bath with River one evening, when he looked at me and asked, “Where are your testicles?” To which I explained girls don’t have testicles. He then tilted his head consolingly and said, “You can have some when you’re bigger.” I thanked him and gave him a hug for being so generous.
The other day, I picked up River from school. As I was pulling out of my parking spot another car drove by and nearly hit us. Because the driver honked her horn, River asked what happened, to which I explained that a car came from my blind spot and almost went ‘bang’. He then says, “That’s why you have to let dada do it.” I almost peed my pants.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
I was a pretty responsible teen. I had a plan and backup plans that also made me happy, so I made sure that whatever life turned into would be positive. Plan A was to be a performer whether that meant acting or dancing. Plans B and C were to work with my mother in hearing rehabilitation- perhaps alongside children and learn sign language. Or, to illustrate medical text books! These seem so random now… Somehow, plan A worked out! Getting a Master’s degree is still an unfulfilled dream, but I’ll get there.
What are some things you really believe in?
I believe that children learn how to love by being loved, but also by observing love (We make a point of being affectionate with each other in front of our kids). I believe in Nature and Nurture, not one versus the other. I believe in putting yourself in someone else’s shoes before criticizing them. I believe in God. I believe in Mother Nature. I believe everything happens for a reason. I believe in learning from my mistakes. I believe in autonomy. I believe in acceptance and kindness. I believe in fair trade. I believe in equality. I believe in global warming.
Where do your passions lie?
I’m passionate about my husband and children, my family, drawing, discovering new parts of the world (which I haven’t done in a long time), meeting new people and hearing their stories, and my job.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids?
Yes. We are not able to be as spontaneous, of course. However, we try to live in a way that our kids are able to sleep in light and noise, darkness and silence, in the car or in their beds. They have become adaptable in so many ways that we are still able to do fun things. Plus, we love having them with us everywhere we go! We also make an effort to have date nights 2 or 3 times a month. Even if we talk about our little ones, it’s still “us” time…
On another note, having kids made me more attracted to Dave. Sometimes I stare at my husband and feel so lucky to be loved by him, but also that my son and daughter have this man to look up to.
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
You cannot control what other people say or feel. You can only control yourself. I didn’t grow up with siblings so I found myself to be very sensitive to other people’s words and actions. I had to learn to let some things go and not take myself so seriously.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
Relax. It’s going to be ok.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
The most challenging thing is the feeling of guilt. I feel it whether I do something or not. It’s finding that fine line between too much discipline and being too loose. The idea that every experience we provide will shape them as adults means I need to get it right. And that pressure is challenging at times. Wow. Maybe I just need to relax!
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
I want them to know that we are all different and all equal and that’s a beautiful thing.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
It’s difficult to live without snacks, clothing in the car for different activities, books and my phone. I’ve been using an app to time breastfeeding, but also there are too many great moments to be captured!