Gen X might know Daisy Fuentes best for her breakthrough TV spot as MTV’s first Latina VJ back in 1993, simultaneously hosting both MTV in English and MTV Internacional in Spanish. But before she was a lauded television star turned talk show host, Fuentes was a globetrotting little girl whose family moved from Cuba (where her dad was from) to Spain (where her mom was from) in order to escape the Castro regime. They ultimately settled in New Jersey where she started her young career by entering the world of modeling, which parlayed into a gig as the weather person for Spanish-language station Telemundo—which is precisely when MTV took notice of this rapidly rising star.
Thirty years and 135 IMDB credits later, Fuentes, now 56 and chiller than ever, has a new calling. Along with her husband, pop-rock mogul and Grammy-winner Richard Marx (“Endless Summer Nights” might come to mind), Fuentes has embraced veganism with the same fierce determination and drive that, earlier this year, led People en Espanol to name her one of the “25 Most Powerful Women.”
For Fuentes, the commitment to reflect her worldview by way of her diet is not only a nod to animal and environmental protection, but also to her bigger-picture view of what it means to be consistently compassionate. Fuentes is, at her core, an activist, using her massive platform to speak for the marginalized—whether it’s her fellow immigrants, her BIPOC sisters and brothers who have been pushed to the margins for far too long, or the billions of farmed animals exploited for a grossly unsustainable and unjust food system.
VegNews’ Jasmin Singer sat down with Daisy Fuentes to discuss her journey to veganism, her rabble-rousing ways, and where, exactly, tequila fits in (spoiler alert: tequila always fits in).
VegNews: We love that you and your husband Richard Marx went vegan together. Tell us a bit more about what the ultimate impetus was for you two to go vegan.
Daisy Fuentes: Richard had been a vegetarian since he was in his twenties, and was pescatarian when I met him. So it was a bit easier for him to make the switch. Through social media, I became more aware of what was really going on [for animals]. We finally decided to watch a few documentaries—and as difficult as it was, then we watched a few more. I realized I’d never made a connection or really thought about my food and what it really was. We also learned about food as medicine. It was all too obvious. We had all this new information, and we couldn’t stay the same. I believe with knowledge comes responsibility; we decided we had to make a change and evolve. Like most vegans, I only wish I’d done it much sooner.
VN: And there’s another way you’re channeling your compassion: fashion! How has your veganism impacted your fashion lines?
DF: My fashion sense has also evolved. I no longer care about wearing the “it” designer of the moment or getting that must-have bag every girl wants. I’m more aware of what I’m buying and what I put my name on. My brand doesn’t test on animals or use leather or suede. I also don’t think we should have to choose between paying our mortgage or getting that designer bag. I don’t want to be a slave to fashion, but I still want to look modern and know the trends, so I can translate them to be more inclusive, wearable, and affordable.
VN: You’ve been in the entertainment industry for over three decades, but you’ve said that you only recently started to really settle into a work/life balance. What shifted?
DF: I got married. I’ve been busy working for decades, but found real love and married later in life. I now want to enjoy this part of life more. I hate that even if I live to be 90, I won’t get to spend enough time with the love of my life—whom I only met in my forties! I’ve got clear priorities now. I don’t have to, or want to, do everything; I want to enjoy life. I want to learn about myself, my husband, and the universe. I want to spend more time with family and less time doing things I don’t absolutely love.
VN: Speaking of you and your husband, you started a podcast together—Tequila Talk—that started during the beginnings of the pandemic and ran the following two years. How did the idea come up, and what was that like?
DF: It started as something we did a few times on Instagram Live, while we were having a drink. We love to talk and we love tequila. Some people thought we should make it a regular thing. We talked about everything you’d talk about when having a drink with a friend … current affairs, pop culture, stories in the news. We vented, we got philosophical, discussed the world—I loved it.
VN: More importantly, what’s your favorite way to drink tequila?
DF: I’m a purist. Añejo tequila on the rocks with a lime wedge.
VN: Tequila aside, how are you practicing self-care these days?
DF: I’ve embraced living in a simpler way. So many luxuries and acquisitions have become so silly and unnecessary. I meditate and spend a lot of time in nature. I live on the beach and that’s been my therapy. I’m grateful every day that I get to roll out of bed and onto the sand with my husband and our sweet dog. We hike some of the most beautiful trails in the world right in our backyard—the Santa Monica mountains. But most of all, I’ve learned that I love being home, cooking, reading, and learning. When the world gives me lemons, I get some tequila and make the best of it.
VN: And what’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself recently?
DF: That I like being authentic. I like living my truth, speaking my truth, and not worrying about what people think of me. I was busy just working and doing what people do while life was passing me by. I wish I lived according to my values sooner. I should’ve found my voice when I was younger. I want to encourage young people to find their voice, their causes. To keep an open mind, and to change it as often they need to. To question everything, and stand up for what’s right.
VN: What gives you hope?
DF: Younger generations. They know and understand so much more than many adults who are close-minded and stuck in their ways. People who stand up for others and against injustice give me hope. Even when it’s all bad news and people are at their worst, there are always some good people helping and making a difference. They give me hope.