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“Renowned” Actress Danna Reflects on Embracing Early Stardom and Transitioning from Acting to Music

Mexican pop singer Danna Paola Rivera Munguía, known simply as Danna, stepped into the limelight at the tender age of 5. She honed her craft as an actress, landing roles in wholesome youth telenovelas such as “María Belén,” “Pablo y Andrea,” and “Atrévete a Soñar.” Danna’s star continued to ascend into adulthood with notable performances in Spanish-language dramas like “La Doña” and Netflix’s “Elite.”

However, after two decades of breathing life into characters, Danna bid farewell to acting in 2020. Having already released several pop albums between the ages of 6 and 25, she fully embraced a career in music. Her latest album, “Childstar,” set to release on April 11 at 8 p.m. ET, sees the 28-year-old singer grappling with her unconventional upbringing while on a quest for self-discovery.

“Constructing my identity through various characters and personalities was quite overwhelming, and that’s why I believe I began to shape myself based on many personas,” Danna tells USA TODAY in an interview conducted in English and Spanish. “Through therapy, I realized that there were issues that hindered me from being my authentic self. So, for this album, I made peace with that.”

Despite expectations of a cynical exploration of fame’s pitfalls, “Childstar” primarily offers cathartic dance-pop tracks where Danna delves into her life experiences, positioning herself at the epicenter of her own narrative.

“I found my footing as an artist. I discovered my voice, my musical production style, and how I want to express myself through my songs,” Danna shares. “It’s been a beautiful journey, but also incredibly challenging and emotional.”

Contrary to the radiant spotlight of her childhood stardom, the visuals for “Childstar” evoke a moodier, more gritty atmosphere, reflecting Danna’s battle with depression.

“I wanted to dismantle the image people had of me in this perfect, pink world, this sweet facade with a particular aesthetic,” Danna explains. “This darkness allowed me to discover myself as an artist, and without that depression and the abyss I was living in, I wouldn’t have found myself.”

This darkness permeates the album’s opening track, “The Fall,” a poignant ballad where Danna confronts her inner turmoil but resolves to transcend the pain—an ethos she’s gleaned from navigating life under the public eye.

“As a human being, I make mistakes every day, whether publicly or privately,” Danna acknowledges. “I don’t aspire to perfection. I simply want to learn from life, and that realization has brought me immense peace.”

Before fully committing to music, Danna’s final acting role was as Lu Montesinos, a sharp-witted schoolgirl in the teen crime thriller “Elite.” Despite winning a Premios Juventud award for her performance, she ultimately bid adieu to acting, feeling drained from inhabiting characters instead of discovering herself.

“As an actress, I relished the opportunity to immerse myself in different personas and worlds, truly becoming those characters,” Danna reflects. “It was challenging to detach myself from a role after three, four, or six months. My last character, Lucretia, left a lasting imprint on me.”

Yet, Danna hasn’t entirely abandoned the dramatic arts. She seamlessly merges the heightened emotions of acting with the unfiltered self-expression found in music.

“I feel liberated creating music. It’s not that I dislike acting, but it was comfortable staying within that realm and not fully believing in myself as an artist and singer,” Danna reveals. “I adore singing, interpreting a song, and truly feeling the lyrics. It’s vital to me.”

In “Tenemos Que Hablar,” one of the tracks from “Childstar,” Danna examines a relationship that crumbles amidst her newfound independence, asserting, “Today, my happiness doesn’t depend on anyone.”

“In the end, happiness is a choice—a constant creation in our lives,” Danna observes. “When we rely on others for our happiness, we limit ourselves from crafting our own magic, our own world, and our unique perspective on life.”

Danna’s current contentment stems from her newfound creative autonomy.

“Every inch of this album reflects my essence, and that’s what fills me with pride,” Danna declares. “For the first time, I feel entirely comfortable with everything I express: my music, my style, my sexuality. I feel empowered.”

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