Perseverance in life is key and our FEBRUARY MUSE of the MONTH has “IT”. The felinely classic and ever evolving, CARA SANTANA is a Texas born native that's now living in Los Angeles where she focuses on her acting career. Through our exclusive interview she dishes about her upcoming travels with UNICEF to Africa and shares with us one of her most recent endeavors - www.caradisclothed.com, an inspirational fashion blog for ALL people. Most importantly she reminds readers to always “study your craft, focus on your goals, love what you do and don't ever give up.”
HAUTE STREET: Tell us a little bit about Cara Santana!
CARA SANTANA: I grew up in El Paso, Texas. My mother, a Russian Jew, and my father, an Italian Catholic, married now for 40 years, were sure to give me and my young brother a well rounded and full upbringing. We practiced both religions, went to prep school, played every sport under the sun and experienced all we could in our small Texas town. My mother, an attorney, and my father, the Chief of Juvenile Probation in El Paso, really implored upon my brother and me to work hard and be passionate about what we loved and if we did that, we would succeed. At 15, I knew I was ready to leave Texas and head to LA to start my acting career, which was my true love. With my parents love and support, I moved to LA at 16 and enrolled in Idyllwild Arts Academy, which was a boarding school for the performing arts. I thrived there. I graduated at 18 and have been living and working in California, ever since!
HS: What is your current state-of-mind?
CS: Currently, I'm inspired. I feel very open to life and experience. I'm totally ready for life and what it throws my way.
HS: Your home is GORGEOUS! Can you tell us a little bit about it your inspirations while choosing and decorating your room?
CS: My boyfriend, Jesse Metcalfe, and I had been together for 4 1/2 years and we decided it was time to buy a place together. We both have very distinct styles. His taste is very masculine, vintage and cultured; to the contrast I'm very feminine, traditional and modern. So we knew that we'd really need to work together to create a home that was perfect for the both of us. We fell in love with this 1920s Spanish Mediterranean style home in the Hollywood Hills. So, with Jesse at the helm, he's far more versed in design and aesthetics and has spectacular taste, we started to remodel and create this home. We Venetian plastered the walls and put in fresh hardwood floors. We tried to add brightness which is what I like with some furniture and use of windows and color palettes, but kept the feel of the house by adding some amazing rugs and wood pieces. It was a labor of love and we're happy with how it turned out. It's a total compromise of our styles from the pink bathroom and gold curtains to the vinatge mirrors and Steinway piano, but it works! Jesse has an extensive art collection, which added elegance to the home. We have a beautiful Williem De Kooning in our living room, a Warhol in one of the guest rooms and a Bueno that we love in the dining room. We really pieced together a well rounded home.
HS: A favorite quote that inspires you?
CS: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and conscience, but where he stands in time of challenge and controversy " -Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
HS: You just recently launched your fashion blog, caradisclothed.com! Can you tell us a little bit about it and how/why you got started?
CS: CaraDisclothed came to be, because I wanted to create a conversation about fashion that was accessible to everyone, no matter who you are. People always would ask me who I was wearing or why I chose this with that, and I like having a dialogue about it. Making the concept of fashion attainable to all people, no matter their financial position, body type, style, etc. was compelling to me. There's an aloofness in the industry, an attitude or air of pretension, and I wanted to engage people in a way that was not like that. So I cover what I like, what I wear, why I do it and I love it! I enjoy writing and I like having a platform to hear what others think about what I like. So, keep reading!
HS: Being a Los Angeles insider, can you recommend some of your favorite places to eat and get pampered in the city?
CS: Well, listen, Los Angeles is an endless Mecca for fabulousness! It's always changing and evolving and this list of great places are infinite, so don't limit yourself to these. However here are my favorites!!
2100 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
" It's nestled in the Hollywood Hills. It's romantic and cute. The food is delicious and all organic. You can't go wrong."
2. Sunset Tower Bar
8358 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069
" It's delicious and fun. It's old school Hollywood. There's live music. A great place."
3. Pizzeria Mozza
641 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
"It's laid back and just divine. No other words necessary."
1. Beverly Hills Hotel - Polo Lounge
9641 Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
"The food is incredible and it's a staple."
2. Chateau Marmont
8221 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
" It's luxurious and the garden is a beautiful ambience. I adore it there."
1. Sunset Tower Spa
8358 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069
"I don't want to give it away, but get the Hamam and a couple's massage and you'll be in heaven!"
2. ES Nail
8384 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069
"The best nails spot in LA. If you want it done, they can do it."
New places are always popping up but you can definitely find me at one of those spots!
HS: How did you break into the entertainment industry?
CS: I knocked on every door until someone would give me a shot. Perseverance. There's no grey story. I trained hard and went after what I wanted. And am still doing it.
HS: Who would you say is your mentor?
CS: I have had so many amazing inspirations over the years. From my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Morrow, whom I still speak to, to this day. She taught me discipline while having fun. To my mother, who I go to for any and all things life related. Lol! I have friends who are successful in their field that I seek guidance from. My manager, Loch Powell, is a source of direction and motivation. I am lucky to have a lot of people who help me and guide me along the way.
HS: Is there any advice you would give to young girls with aspirations to be actresses?
CS: My advice would be to study your craft. Focus on your goals. Love what you do. And don't give up.
HS: What is the wildest thing you’ve ever seen on set?
CS: Shooting Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 we had 20 dogs on the set at one time and they all had to do their exact command at the exact time! More often than not, they succeeded! It was impressive!
HS: How would you describe your personal style?
CS: My style is evolving and ever changing. I'm not categorized into one thing, so to speak. However, on the whole I would say that I'm feminine and classic.
HS: What is one of your favorite trends right now?
CS: I pay more attention to what looks good on me rather than following trends, however, I am thrilled that clunky platformed heels are taking a back seat now to the sleep stiletto! Less trash and more class!
HS: What is your “go-to” item in your closet.
CS: My Alexander Wang black tee. I stole it from my friend and stylist, Mariel Haenn. I can't live without it which is why I haven't given it back.
HS: If you could raid ANYONE's closet whose would it be and why?
CS: My friend Nicole Richie's closet! Does it need an explanation?! Her style is so unique and eclectic. It'd be so much fun and I know she has the best vintage!
HS: Your idea of happiness?
CS: To be fully comfortable with who you are and where you are in each moment. That is to be truly happy.
HS: One of our favorite questions to ask… What is the best advice someone has given to you that has kept you going & growing?
CS: My grandpa always said: "There are no extraordinary people, just ordinary people doing extraordinary things and you can be one of them if you let yourself." It reminds me that we are all equal and what we do with our lives is a matter of our will. We can all accomplish greatness. Your biggest obstacle is yourself.
HS: Tell us something that most people don't know about you.
CS: I bite my nails!!! It's terrible and gross and I've done it since I was 6! Soo embarrassing...
HS: Tell us about your passion project. Why did you choose this cause?
CS: I'm traveling with UNICEF to Botswana in May. Africa is a place dear to my heart. I spent a few months there a few years back and was really inspired by the people. I'm looking forward to going back with UNICEF, which is just an amazing organization that does so much good around the world. To team up with them and travel to a country I love to hopefully do some good is quiet a compelling prospect. I'm so thrilled and excited to join them and go back to a place I love with people that are so special.
HS: Can you tell us about your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why?
CS: Johannesburg, South Africa. The culture is phenomenal. The people are incredible. The history is astounding. It is just so unique, rich and multi-faceted. It's really unlike any place I've ever been.
HS: For someone who has never been to Johannesburg, South Africa, what would you recommend they do?
CS: If you're planning a trip to Johannesburg I would implore you to explore the Kruger National Park, tour the township of Soweto where Nelson Mandela lived, shop at Melrose Arch and eat pup!!
HS: What's next on your travel bucket list?
CS: As mind blowing as this sounds - I've never been to Paris and I'm desperate to go. It's the fashion capital of the world and Coco Chanel lived there. Enough said!
HS: Which top 3 instagram accounts do you follow?
@insta_animal! It's just too cute! I love animals.
@BarackObama. I mean, he's the President!
HS: Can you share with us a pivotal moment in your life?
CS: At 18 years old, I overdosed on drugs and alcohol. I had no relationship with myself, my family or God. As I felt what was sure to be death, I asked "God", if he could give me one more chance. I told him if he did, I'd never forsake an opportunity or take life for granted. I blacked out after that wish. Since then, which was April of 2004, I've been sober from drugs and alcohol. Getting clean was a life affirming step that I took. Even if you're not someone suffering from an addiction, what I've come to find is that we all can take life for granted. Having it almost taken away made me realize how badly I wanted to live, and I mean truly live, not just get by. My amends to myself and to the people out there that didn't get a second chance is to never take life for granted.
HS: An obstacle that you have had to overcome?
CS: Coming to terms with my addiction was a battle. The stigma that's often attached to addiction really made me uncomfortable. The idea that my parents would judge me or be judged because of me, threatened my security. Allowing myself to be okay with all parts of me, including m addiction, was a journey. But, it has reaffirmed who I am. It has taught me about myself and has undoubtedly made me a better person. I'm grateful for it.
HS: What does your tattoo say and what's the meaning behind it?
CS: Well I have 4.
The one on my ribcage says in Hebrew: "A set back, is a set up for a comeback." I got it after I was sober. It's a reminder that if you chose to learn from your mistakes, then you can only be better and do better.
My foot says "Faith over Fear". As people, we have a tendency to be afraid of what's to come, instead of having faith in whatever is to come; that is positive and beneficial. So that's my reminder.
My neck says in Zulu, an African language, "Be the change you wish to see in the World". That's obviously Ghandi. It was inspired by my first trip to Africa. We can all illicit positive change, we just have to start it if we want it.
And my lower back is an "Om". Peace, positivity, tranquility and serenity, baby!
HS: Who is your fashion icon and why?
CS: I don't have an icon per se. I'm constantly inspired by people and revere their style. Sometimes by people on the street. A girl who shows confidence and individuality. That's inspiring. Or, I look at women from history who were trailblazers in their time and carved out their individuality like Coco Chanel, Katherine Hepburn or Jackie O. Or the modern day women who play by their own rules, like Nicole Richie who never plays it safe and always takes a risk; Olivia Palermo who has mixing and matching down to a science; Kate Bosworth who's carved out an effortlessly chic style, or Lupita N'Yongo who is influenced by the "clothes that speak to her". There are icons all around us and I love to observe and be inspired by them all.
HS: Each month we ask our MUSE what they would ask the next MUSE. January’s MUSE, Q, asked: “You’re going to a deserted island and you can only take one movie, one song, one book, one pair of shoes, and one makeup item with you. Name them all.”
CS: Haha! Good question! Ok... I'd take "A League of Their Own". It's heart felt, action packed, funny and a period piece so it's like 4 movies in one. And I love the acting. Miley's "Wrecking Ball". It's upbeat, but the juxtaposition to the lyrics makes for a well rounded listening opportunity. "The Alchemist" would be my book. It's sooo good and everytime you read it you can get something new from it. I'd take my Nike tennis shoes. I'm a pragmatist and I'm on an island. And I would take my Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with SPF. It's practical and when I get rescued I would look color corrected.
HS: What should we ask the next MUSE?
CS: If you could have dinner party with 4 people from the past or present who would it be and why?